(UPDATED COVERAGE, 5 p.m.) ORLANDO, Fla. — Calling it a scientific breakthrough, Chiquita Brands International and Fresh Express have unveiled a new produce wash technology they say removes microorganisms from leafy greens more effectively than conventional chlorine sanitizers.
Cincinnati-based Chiquita, which owns Fresh Express introduced FreshRinse Oct. 15 at a news conference at the Produce Marketing Association’s Fresh Summit 2010.
Chiquita plans to make the system available for license development.
"Based on our extensive research, we are proud to introduce the biggest invention since the creation of prepackaged salads,” said Fernando Aguirre, Chiquita’s chairman and chief executive officer.
Aguirre compared the new technology to portable mobile devices.
“Compare FreshRinse technology to current wash standards,” he said. “Chlorine is the abacus and FreshRinse is the iPad. An abacus is what people use with the beads, a great thing at the time, just like chlorine rinse was. We believe FreshRinse sets a new standard in food safety.”
Chiquita cited research showing that in attached-cell testing, FreshRinse reduced E. coli O157:H7 and salmonella on romaine lettuce and spinach by factors of nine and up compared to chlorine washes.
Reductions were also reported for other pathogens tested, such as listeria monocytogenes.
“As a matter of magnitude, that’s the equivalent of chlorine walking a mile and FreshRinse making two round trips to the moon,” said Mike Burness, vice president of global quality and food safety. “If chlorine walked one mile, FreshRinse would have walked a marathon. We have seen a significant reduction of potential foodborne organisms that cause disease.”
The company has not submitted its research to a peer-reviewed journal. Andrew Ciafardini, a Chiquita spokesman, said Chiquita plans to submit its research to the Journal of Food Protection by the end of the year.