Good Fruit Grower

August 1

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18 AUGUST 2015 Good Fruit Grower I n the storages and packing house at Auvil Fruit Company, the workers call it "magic water." They use it to clean storages and bins before bringing in new bins of apples at the start of harvest and to sanitize apples and sorting and packing equipment routinely during the packing process. In a U.S. Depart- ment of Agriculture study report, it was called "shockingly powerful." So what is this magic water? The real name is electrolyzed water, and it is gaining traction in many places in the food industry and in the health care industry as well. It is a user- friendly replacement for chlorine, ozone, and detergents. Walt Hough, the plant operations manager at Auvil, says, "I'm a believer. I have a high level of confi dence that we have a food safety plan that works. It works not only against pathogens that can harm humans, it works against molds and yeasts that cause fruit decay in storages. "Not only does it let me sleep better at night, we can assure our customers that they are buying a clean product that will have a longer shelf life. We can document that." In his 38 years at Auvil, Hough had felt frustrated that Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Points (HACCP) plans didn't really offer assurance that effective mea- sures were being applied at those critical contamination points. The reliance on solutions containing chlorine is near total. The history Hough began reading the literature about electrolyzed water about fi ve years ago and adopted it two years later. The Japanese began using it in the mid-1980s to kill bacteria and parasites associated with fi sh. Then they began using it in hospitals. Since then, research has shown it can be used on fresh produce since it has no effect on quality characteristics like taste, odor, or tex- ture. It can be used in mist water in supermarket pro- duce displays. It can be used to spray carcasses in meat slaughter facilities to kill organisms like Escherichia coli (E. coli). Home units for making electrolyzed water are being sold as a germ-free alternative to ordinary tap water, and it is said to have energizing powers. It is safe to consume and harmless to people's skin and lungs. It's being tried outside, in orchards as well. It is being studied as a tool for control of mildew in cherry orchards and to kill fi re blight bacteria in apple and pear orchards, Hough said. It is safe for workers to use. And, when it has done its work, it resumes its role as ordinary water, easy to dispose of or use for other purposes. The Auvil Fruit Company website has this to say: MAGIC water + – Anode Cathode Salt water solution + + + + + + + – – – – – – – Acidic solution Alkaline solution SANITIZING CLEANING Making electrolyzed water An electric current is passed through salt water, breaking the water and the salt into ions. Positive hydrogen and sodium ions fl ow toward the cathode. Negative chlorine and hydroxyl ions fl ow toward the anode. The acidic and the alkaline solutions are stored in separate tanks, where they can be used as cleaners or sanitizers. JARED JOHNSON/GOOD FRUIT GROWER Harvest Electrolyzed water is making waves in storage and packing house sanitation. by Richard Lehnert

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