Air Purifying technology helps ensure avocados safety

08/10/2012 01:31:00 PM
Jim Offner

Jimmy Lee would like to clear the air.

Lee, general manager of Atlanta-based KES Science and Technology Inc., says his company’s sanitation system, AiroCide PPT purifying technology, is ideal for avocados, and it has plenty of marketing uses for suppliers and retailers who employ it in their refrigerated storage systems, both large and small.

It’s not exactly a new technology, Lee said, noting it was developed more than a dozen years ago by NASA.

“We have a number of customers that have been using it for a number of years,” Lee said.

Coral Gables, Fla.-based Fresh Del Monte Produce Inc. was one of the first produce shippers to line up for the system, and avocados were the reason, Lee said.

“They came on board, specifically, to control ethylene concentrations where they were storing avocados,” he said.

It didn’t stop with avocados, he added.

“They’ve expanded in all their cold-storage facilities, not only to control ethylene gas but also to prevent pathogenic contamination from mold or bacteria — anything basically airborne, AiroCide will mineralize or destroy.”

Coosemans Atlanta Inc.’s operation is among the latest produce shippers to install the system, which generally costs around $10,000, Lee said.

“They’ve already offered some pretty good stories about shelf-life extension,” Lee said.

Indeed, the company’s website offers testimonials from more that 20 retail stores and produce shippers on the product’s effectiveness. Most of the praise comes from the system’s capabilities in removing odors and mold.

The technology is ideal for avocados, Lee said, noting that, although ethylene gas is used to ripen avocados once they’re ready to go to the consumer or the retailer, too much of the gas can be a problem.

“The old solution was to vent ethylene to the outside of the building, but what these processors and cold-storage companies are finding out is 100% of ethylene doesn’t leave the building. It lingers, permeates through to other coolers and can cause avocados to ripen prematurely.”

The AiroCide system, on the other hand, draws in ethylene gas and destroys it inside a ‘reactor’ unit, Lee said.

The system has a growing customer base in an era of tighter food safety protocols, Lee said.

He cited, as an example, intensified scrutiny by the Food and Drug Administration through the Food Safety Modernization Act, which was signed into federal law in January 2011.

“One a (food-safety) hazard inside cold storage or processing has been airborne, that spore or bacteria will attach itself to other product and damage whatever it is in that room, cooler or processing area, causing cross-contamination,” Lee said.

Worst-case scenarios can involve product recalls, he said.

The system helps to minimize risks, Lee said.



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