5 potential mistakes to avoid in fresh produce sanitization

The processing of fresh-cut produce is a highly regulated industry which requires implementing a strict set of procedures to ensure food safety. Ineffective sanitization monitoring leads to incorrect dosing of chemicals. Overdosing is both expensive and inefficient for companies and can lead to the development disinfection by-products. Underdosing can allow bacteria to breed in the water and increases the risk of cross-contamination. Any company not following strict procedures would be at risk of nonconformance, and in the worst case may be putting end-consumers at risk with contaminated produce. Here we have outlined five potential mistakes to be avoided in fresh produce sanitization.

1. Relying only on your chemical dosing system

Chemical dosing systems will feed in a defined amount of sanitizer for your wash line. Measurement probes are often provided with the dosing system to measure the levels of sanitiser is being dosed. However, these measurement systems are prone to drift over time and may not be providing an accurate picture. External validation of the system should always to be performed to ensure that sufficient levels of sanitizer are in the wash water.

2. Not controlling pH

Operating at the wrong pH level can reduce the effectiveness of your sanitizer. Chlorine in particular is pH sensitive and is known for its potential to form toxic chlorine gas at a low pH. Measuring and monitoring pH will allow you to more effectively choose a sanitizer and employ safe disinfection practices.

3. Not following the correct test guidelines

Several tests require a waiting time for colour to develop before being tested, or alternatively can require test samples to be tested within a set time window so that the sample doesn’t change or develop. If the correct test times and procedures are not followed, then the results recorded may be incorrect. Dosing decisions based on incorrect measurements could be ineffective, leading to disinfection levels that are too high or too low.

4. Ineffective data management

It is still common practice in the industry to record all sanitizer checks on paper. This leaves companies with a risk of error and can leave gaps in their auditing process. Paper records can become lost or damaged and are prone to human error if the results have been incorrectly reported by the operator. To ensure compliance to an audit, and to ensure that your produce has been correctly dosed, all sanitizer measurements should be digitally recorded so they cannot be lost, edited, or damaged.

5. Inefficient maintenance of measurement equipment

If an instrument is stored away whilst wet this may lead to water damaging the electronics of the instrument, or if the sample holder becomes scratched or stained the accuracy of results may be affected, particularly for a colorimetric test. By following the correct maintenance and cleaning procedures, you can be more confident in the quality of your method, and thus the accuracy of your results.

Our instruments have been designed specifically to support effective sanitization procedures in food processing. By simplifying the test method, our technology reduces user intervention and therefore potential errors. Find out more about how Kemio technology can help support you by contacting our team. 

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