Does New Salad Wash Live Up to Its Claims?

A new salad rinse developed by Chiquita Brands International lives up to its claims of superiority over standard chlorine washes, according to one food safety expert.

Chiquita says its new FreshRinse wash kills substantially more of three leading microorganisms, Salmonella, Listeria monocytogenes, and Escherichia coli 0157:H7, than common chlorine washes. The company is using the rinse for its own products but plans to license it to others in the fresh produce industry. In the wake of three recalls of Chiquita’s Fresh Express bagged salad brand within the past year alone, the company is looking for an edge in food safety.

The company may have it with FreshRinse, says Robert Buchanan, PhD, director of the Center for Food Safety and Security Systems at the University of Maryland’s College of Agriculture and Natural Resources in College Park. Dr. Buchanan was recently asked by Chiquita to review all of its data and protocols related to FreshRinse, including laboratory trials, pilot plant trials, and early commercial data.

“It looked very good,” he said. “There are no magic bullets, but it seemed to be substantially more effective than just the standard chlorine wash. Standard washes give you about a log of inactivation, or a factor of 10; with this product, the data shows they’re getting about 2.3 logs.”

In an Oct. 15 article in The Wall Street Journal, Kansas State University food safety professor Doug Powell, PhD, questioned why Chiquita has not submitted the FreshRinse data to a peer-reviewed journal. According to Dr. Buchanan, that’s not unusual.

“These labs don’t usually do peer review on their antimicrobials,” he says. “Typically, peer reviews are done by academics after the product has been commercialized, looking at it in different conditions. These reviews may make or break a commercial operation later on, but there’s no requirement for any pre-market efficacy test, and, in fact, it’s not common.”

Mike Burness, Chiquita’s vice president for global food safety and quality, told The Wall Street Journal that the company plans to submit its research to the Journal of Food Protection by the end of the year.

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