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Farm Fresh Produce ramps up bell peppers program, cabbage

Farm Fresh Produce ramps up bell peppers program, cabbage

Farm Fresh has 50 acres of peppers. Most of Farm Fresh’s produce is shipped to the East Coast, noted Ceccarelli, because their location in North Carolina gives them cheap freight costs when shipping to markets in the region. Ceccarelli noted that the season hasn’t been the best, but they’re busy providing for their customers.
 
“Peppers have been pretty good so far,” said Ceccarelli. “The market hasn’t been ideal, but we’re keeping our product fresh and our customers happy.”

Farm Fresh Produce is also in the thick of their cabbage program this year. Like with their peppers, Farm Fresh’s cabbage program is focused on East coast markets, which they can reach in about two days from their facilities in North Carolina.

“We’re going to do a lot of cabbage this year,” said Farm Fresh’s Steve Ceccarelli. They began harvesting Napa cabbage at the beginning of last month, and harvesting of regular green cabbage and Flathead cabbage began shortly after. The Napa variety is what Farm Fresh produces the most, with 70 acres dedicated to that kind of cabbage, while 30 acres are dedicated to the Flathead variety.

“We have an advantage from a freight standpoint,” said Ceccarelli. “It’s cheaper for us to ship to the East Coast and the Eastern part of Canada than it is for competitors who aren’t in this region.” Another big program for Farm Fresh is their line of sweet potatoes, which they also predominantly sell on the East Coast. Currently, Farm Fresh has grey, yellow and green sweet potatoes available.

For more information:
Steven A. Ceccarelli
Farm Fresh Produce
Tel: +1 910-508-8933
[email protected]
www.farm-fresh-produce.com

Publication date: 6/28/2013


FreshPlaza.com

Researchers’ recipe: Cook farm waste into energy

It takes some cooking, but turning farm waste into biofuels is now possible and makes economic sense, according to preliminary research from the University of Guelph.

Guelph researchers are studying how to make biofuels from farm waste, especially “wet” waste that is typically difficult to use. They have developed a fairly simple procedure to transport waste and produce energy from it.

Scientists have struggled to find uses for wet and green waste, including corn husks, tomato vines and manure. Dry farm waste, such as wood chips or sawdust, is easier to use for generating power. Often, wet farm waste materials break down before reaching their destination.

Researchers led by engineering professor Animesh Dutta, director of the Bio-Renewable Innovation Lab (BRIL) at U of G, have found a solution: pressure cooking.

Cooking farm waste yields compact, easily transportable material that will not degrade and can be used in energy-producing plants.

Dutta said the research, which is published this week in the journal Applied Energy, shows that in a lab setting, biofuels can produce the same amount of energy as coal.

“What this means is that we have a resource in farm waste that is readily available, can produce energy at a similar level to burning coal, and does not require any significant start-up costs,” said Dutta.

“We are taking what is now a net-negative resource in farm waste, which farmers have to pay to remove, and providing an opportunity for them to make money and help the environment. It’s a closed-loop cycle, meaning we don’t have to worry about external costs.”

Using excess food, green and wet waste to reduce the carbon footprint is drawing a lot of interest in Europe, he said, but so far it has proven unfeasible in North America.

Coal is more readily available in North America. Biomass is highly rich in alkali and alkaline earth metals such as silicon, potassium, sodium and calcium. The presence of these metals in farm waste damages pipes at power plants during combustion.

The new biofuel product made by the BRIL researchers produces a product that has less alkali and alkaline earth metals, allowing them to be used at power plants.

“We’re able to produce small amounts of energy in our lab from these biofuels,” said Dutta.

“The next step is to take this outside of the lab. We have a number of industry partners and government ministries interested in this technology. Essentially, the agri-food sector could power the automotive industry.”

Dutta said large pressure cookers located near farms could accept and cook waste for transport to energy plants.

“We’re looking at a timeline of five to seven years, depending on the funding,” he said.

“Once we have a commercial system set up, we’ll be self-sufficient. It can reduce our energy costs and provide an environmental benefit. It’s going to change the paradigm of energy production in North America.”

Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by University of Guelph. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.

Agriculture and Food News — ScienceDaily

MOM’s Organic Market opens oyster farm

To assist in conservation efforts in the Chesapeake Bay — and offer sustainable, affordable seafood in stores — MOM’s Organic Market has started its own oyster farm off of Fleets Island, Va.

The retailer plans to sample and sell oysters at the grand opening of its first store in Washington Nov. 14-16, as well as at stores in Rockville, Md., and Alexandria, Va. Customers can also recycle oyster shells in-store thanks to the Oyster Recovery Partnership.

Stores will sell two dozen oysters for $ 14. MOM’s aims to make the mollusk more affordable.



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Duda Farm Fresh Foods opens California citrus season

Duda Farm Fresh Foods marks the start of the California-grown citrus season with a large variety of items available now in promotable volumes.

“The Navel oranges crop is off to an early start this season and the fruit is exceptionally sweet,” Paul Huckabay, Duda Western citrus sales manager, said in a press release.DUDA-12134-MeyerLemonBag Fr

“The Navel orange sizing is slightly smaller than the past few seasons and we are seeing a lot of excitement surrounding bag promotions for the holidays,” Huckabay said.  “We anticipate some fruit growth over the next few months and hope to have larger sized fruit near Christmas or the first of the year.”

Supplies of lemons are abundant from the California desert region. The Duda lemon crop has an even distribution of sizes which will appeal to both retail and foodservice customers.

“We plan to transition harvest to the central San Joaquin Valley district in December and then continue production into spring,” Huckabay said.

Mandarins also had an early start to the season this year, and the fruit size is moderate to slightly larger with a nice eating quality.  

“We have good volume now and we are well positioned for holiday ads as we move into November and December,” he said. “We will have good volume from early January all the way through March and into early April.”

Lastly, Duda started shipping Meyer lemons the last week of October — a full week earlier than last year.  The Dandy one-pound Grab n’ Go bag is updated this year to reflect new recipes and uses for Meyer lemons. The quality is excellent with smooth, well-shaped fruit and a sweet and juicy interior, Huckabay said.  

“Meyer lemons are one of the last really seasonal items in the product department, and that creates excitement for the overall citrus set and brings attention to the category,” he said.

The company projects good volume of Meyer lemons for the Thanksgiving and Christmas holidays and continuing through March.

Duda is supporting sales with new seasonal packaging, data and an online sales kit that includes recipes for consumers and point-of-sale material.

The Produce News | Today’s Headlines – The Produce News – Covering fresh produce around the globe since 1897.

Duda Farm Fresh Foods opens California citrus season

Duda Farm Fresh Foods marks the start of the California-grown citrus season with a large variety of items available now in promotable volumes.

“The Navel oranges crop is off to an early start this season and the fruit is exceptionally sweet,” Paul Huckabay, Duda Western citrus sales manager, said in a press release.DUDA-12134-MeyerLemonBag Fr

“The Navel orange sizing is slightly smaller than the past few seasons and we are seeing a lot of excitement surrounding bag promotions for the holidays,” Huckabay said.  “We anticipate some fruit growth over the next few months and hope to have larger sized fruit near Christmas or the first of the year.”

Supplies of lemons are abundant from the California desert region. The Duda lemon crop has an even distribution of sizes which will appeal to both retail and foodservice customers.

“We plan to transition harvest to the central San Joaquin Valley district in December and then continue production into spring,” Huckabay said.

Mandarins also had an early start to the season this year, and the fruit size is moderate to slightly larger with a nice eating quality.  

“We have good volume now and we are well positioned for holiday ads as we move into November and December,” he said. “We will have good volume from early January all the way through March and into early April.”

Lastly, Duda started shipping Meyer lemons the last week of October — a full week earlier than last year.  The Dandy one-pound Grab n’ Go bag is updated this year to reflect new recipes and uses for Meyer lemons. The quality is excellent with smooth, well-shaped fruit and a sweet and juicy interior, Huckabay said.  

“Meyer lemons are one of the last really seasonal items in the product department, and that creates excitement for the overall citrus set and brings attention to the category,” he said.

The company projects good volume of Meyer lemons for the Thanksgiving and Christmas holidays and continuing through March.

Duda is supporting sales with new seasonal packaging, data and an online sales kit that includes recipes for consumers and point-of-sale material.

The Produce News | Today’s Headlines – The Produce News – Covering fresh produce around the globe since 1897.

Duda Farm Fresh Foods opens California citrus season

Duda Farm Fresh Foods marks the start of the California-grown citrus season with a large variety of items available now in promotable volumes.

“The Navel oranges crop is off to an early start this season and the fruit is exceptionally sweet,” Paul Huckabay, Duda Western citrus sales manager, said in a press release.DUDA-12134-MeyerLemonBag Fr

“The Navel orange sizing is slightly smaller than the past few seasons and we are seeing a lot of excitement surrounding bag promotions for the holidays,” Huckabay said.  “We anticipate some fruit growth over the next few months and hope to have larger sized fruit near Christmas or the first of the year.”

Supplies of lemons are abundant from the California desert region. The Duda lemon crop has an even distribution of sizes which will appeal to both retail and foodservice customers.

“We plan to transition harvest to the central San Joaquin Valley district in December and then continue production into spring,” Huckabay said.

Mandarins also had an early start to the season this year, and the fruit size is moderate to slightly larger with a nice eating quality.  

“We have good volume now and we are well positioned for holiday ads as we move into November and December,” he said. “We will have good volume from early January all the way through March and into early April.”

Lastly, Duda started shipping Meyer lemons the last week of October — a full week earlier than last year.  The Dandy one-pound Grab n’ Go bag is updated this year to reflect new recipes and uses for Meyer lemons. The quality is excellent with smooth, well-shaped fruit and a sweet and juicy interior, Huckabay said.  

“Meyer lemons are one of the last really seasonal items in the product department, and that creates excitement for the overall citrus set and brings attention to the category,” he said.

The company projects good volume of Meyer lemons for the Thanksgiving and Christmas holidays and continuing through March.

Duda is supporting sales with new seasonal packaging, data and an online sales kit that includes recipes for consumers and point-of-sale material.

The Produce News | Today’s Headlines – The Produce News – Covering fresh produce around the globe since 1897.

Duda Farm Fresh Foods opens California citrus season

Duda Farm Fresh Foods marks the start of the California-grown citrus season with a large variety of items available now in promotable volumes.

“The Navel oranges crop is off to an early start this season and the fruit is exceptionally sweet,” Paul Huckabay, Duda Western citrus sales manager, said in a press release.DUDA-12134-MeyerLemonBag Fr

“The Navel orange sizing is slightly smaller than the past few seasons and we are seeing a lot of excitement surrounding bag promotions for the holidays,” Huckabay said.  “We anticipate some fruit growth over the next few months and hope to have larger sized fruit near Christmas or the first of the year.”

Supplies of lemons are abundant from the California desert region. The Duda lemon crop has an even distribution of sizes which will appeal to both retail and foodservice customers.

“We plan to transition harvest to the central San Joaquin Valley district in December and then continue production into spring,” Huckabay said.

Mandarins also had an early start to the season this year, and the fruit size is moderate to slightly larger with a nice eating quality.  

“We have good volume now and we are well positioned for holiday ads as we move into November and December,” he said. “We will have good volume from early January all the way through March and into early April.”

Lastly, Duda started shipping Meyer lemons the last week of October — a full week earlier than last year.  The Dandy one-pound Grab n’ Go bag is updated this year to reflect new recipes and uses for Meyer lemons. The quality is excellent with smooth, well-shaped fruit and a sweet and juicy interior, Huckabay said.  

“Meyer lemons are one of the last really seasonal items in the product department, and that creates excitement for the overall citrus set and brings attention to the category,” he said.

The company projects good volume of Meyer lemons for the Thanksgiving and Christmas holidays and continuing through March.

Duda is supporting sales with new seasonal packaging, data and an online sales kit that includes recipes for consumers and point-of-sale material.

The Produce News | Today’s Headlines – The Produce News – Covering fresh produce around the globe since 1897.

Duda Farm Fresh Foods opens California citrus season

Duda Farm Fresh Foods marks the start of the California-grown citrus season with a large variety of items available now in promotable volumes.

“The Navel oranges crop is off to an early start this season and the fruit is exceptionally sweet,” Paul Huckabay, Duda Western citrus sales manager, said in a press release.DUDA-12134-MeyerLemonBag Fr

“The Navel orange sizing is slightly smaller than the past few seasons and we are seeing a lot of excitement surrounding bag promotions for the holidays,” Huckabay said.  “We anticipate some fruit growth over the next few months and hope to have larger sized fruit near Christmas or the first of the year.”

Supplies of lemons are abundant from the California desert region. The Duda lemon crop has an even distribution of sizes which will appeal to both retail and foodservice customers.

“We plan to transition harvest to the central San Joaquin Valley district in December and then continue production into spring,” Huckabay said.

Mandarins also had an early start to the season this year, and the fruit size is moderate to slightly larger with a nice eating quality.  

“We have good volume now and we are well positioned for holiday ads as we move into November and December,” he said. “We will have good volume from early January all the way through March and into early April.”

Lastly, Duda started shipping Meyer lemons the last week of October — a full week earlier than last year.  The Dandy one-pound Grab n’ Go bag is updated this year to reflect new recipes and uses for Meyer lemons. The quality is excellent with smooth, well-shaped fruit and a sweet and juicy interior, Huckabay said.  

“Meyer lemons are one of the last really seasonal items in the product department, and that creates excitement for the overall citrus set and brings attention to the category,” he said.

The company projects good volume of Meyer lemons for the Thanksgiving and Christmas holidays and continuing through March.

Duda is supporting sales with new seasonal packaging, data and an online sales kit that includes recipes for consumers and point-of-sale material.

The Produce News | Today’s Headlines – The Produce News – Covering fresh produce around the globe since 1897.

Duda Farm Fresh Foods opens California citrus season

Duda Farm Fresh Foods marks the start of the California-grown citrus season with a large variety of items available now in promotable volumes.

“The Navel oranges crop is off to an early start this season and the fruit is exceptionally sweet,” Paul Huckabay, Duda Western citrus sales manager, said in a press release.DUDA-12134-MeyerLemonBag Fr

“The Navel orange sizing is slightly smaller than the past few seasons and we are seeing a lot of excitement surrounding bag promotions for the holidays,” Huckabay said.  “We anticipate some fruit growth over the next few months and hope to have larger sized fruit near Christmas or the first of the year.”

Supplies of lemons are abundant from the California desert region. The Duda lemon crop has an even distribution of sizes which will appeal to both retail and foodservice customers.

“We plan to transition harvest to the central San Joaquin Valley district in December and then continue production into spring,” Huckabay said.

Mandarins also had an early start to the season this year, and the fruit size is moderate to slightly larger with a nice eating quality.  

“We have good volume now and we are well positioned for holiday ads as we move into November and December,” he said. “We will have good volume from early January all the way through March and into early April.”

Lastly, Duda started shipping Meyer lemons the last week of October — a full week earlier than last year.  The Dandy one-pound Grab n’ Go bag is updated this year to reflect new recipes and uses for Meyer lemons. The quality is excellent with smooth, well-shaped fruit and a sweet and juicy interior, Huckabay said.  

“Meyer lemons are one of the last really seasonal items in the product department, and that creates excitement for the overall citrus set and brings attention to the category,” he said.

The company projects good volume of Meyer lemons for the Thanksgiving and Christmas holidays and continuing through March.

Duda is supporting sales with new seasonal packaging, data and an online sales kit that includes recipes for consumers and point-of-sale material.

The Produce News | Today’s Headlines – The Produce News – Covering fresh produce around the globe since 1897.

Duda Farm Fresh Foods opens California citrus season

Duda Farm Fresh Foods marks the start of the California-grown citrus season with a large variety of items available now in promotable volumes.

“The Navel oranges crop is off to an early start this season and the fruit is exceptionally sweet,” Paul Huckabay, Duda Western citrus sales manager, said in a press release.DUDA-12134-MeyerLemonBag Fr

“The Navel orange sizing is slightly smaller than the past few seasons and we are seeing a lot of excitement surrounding bag promotions for the holidays,” Huckabay said.  “We anticipate some fruit growth over the next few months and hope to have larger sized fruit near Christmas or the first of the year.”

Supplies of lemons are abundant from the California desert region. The Duda lemon crop has an even distribution of sizes which will appeal to both retail and foodservice customers.

“We plan to transition harvest to the central San Joaquin Valley district in December and then continue production into spring,” Huckabay said.

Mandarins also had an early start to the season this year, and the fruit size is moderate to slightly larger with a nice eating quality.  

“We have good volume now and we are well positioned for holiday ads as we move into November and December,” he said. “We will have good volume from early January all the way through March and into early April.”

Lastly, Duda started shipping Meyer lemons the last week of October — a full week earlier than last year.  The Dandy one-pound Grab n’ Go bag is updated this year to reflect new recipes and uses for Meyer lemons. The quality is excellent with smooth, well-shaped fruit and a sweet and juicy interior, Huckabay said.  

“Meyer lemons are one of the last really seasonal items in the product department, and that creates excitement for the overall citrus set and brings attention to the category,” he said.

The company projects good volume of Meyer lemons for the Thanksgiving and Christmas holidays and continuing through March.

Duda is supporting sales with new seasonal packaging, data and an online sales kit that includes recipes for consumers and point-of-sale material.

The Produce News | Today’s Headlines – The Produce News – Covering fresh produce around the globe since 1897.

Duda Farm Fresh Foods opens California citrus season

Duda Farm Fresh Foods marks the start of the California-grown citrus season with a large variety of items available now in promotable volumes.

“The Navel oranges crop is off to an early start this season and the fruit is exceptionally sweet,” Paul Huckabay, Duda Western citrus sales manager, said in a press release.DUDA-12134-MeyerLemonBag Fr

“The Navel orange sizing is slightly smaller than the past few seasons and we are seeing a lot of excitement surrounding bag promotions for the holidays,” Huckabay said.  “We anticipate some fruit growth over the next few months and hope to have larger sized fruit near Christmas or the first of the year.”

Supplies of lemons are abundant from the California desert region. The Duda lemon crop has an even distribution of sizes which will appeal to both retail and foodservice customers.

“We plan to transition harvest to the central San Joaquin Valley district in December and then continue production into spring,” Huckabay said.

Mandarins also had an early start to the season this year, and the fruit size is moderate to slightly larger with a nice eating quality.  

“We have good volume now and we are well positioned for holiday ads as we move into November and December,” he said. “We will have good volume from early January all the way through March and into early April.”

Lastly, Duda started shipping Meyer lemons the last week of October — a full week earlier than last year.  The Dandy one-pound Grab n’ Go bag is updated this year to reflect new recipes and uses for Meyer lemons. The quality is excellent with smooth, well-shaped fruit and a sweet and juicy interior, Huckabay said.  

“Meyer lemons are one of the last really seasonal items in the product department, and that creates excitement for the overall citrus set and brings attention to the category,” he said.

The company projects good volume of Meyer lemons for the Thanksgiving and Christmas holidays and continuing through March.

Duda is supporting sales with new seasonal packaging, data and an online sales kit that includes recipes for consumers and point-of-sale material.

The Produce News | Today’s Headlines – The Produce News – Covering fresh produce around the globe since 1897.

Duda Farm Fresh Foods opens California citrus season

Duda Farm Fresh Foods marks the start of the California-grown citrus season with a large variety of items available now in promotable volumes.

“The Navel oranges crop is off to an early start this season and the fruit is exceptionally sweet,” Paul Huckabay, Duda Western citrus sales manager, said in a press release.DUDA-12134-MeyerLemonBag Fr

“The Navel orange sizing is slightly smaller than the past few seasons and we are seeing a lot of excitement surrounding bag promotions for the holidays,” Huckabay said.  “We anticipate some fruit growth over the next few months and hope to have larger sized fruit near Christmas or the first of the year.”

Supplies of lemons are abundant from the California desert region. The Duda lemon crop has an even distribution of sizes which will appeal to both retail and foodservice customers.

“We plan to transition harvest to the central San Joaquin Valley district in December and then continue production into spring,” Huckabay said.

Mandarins also had an early start to the season this year, and the fruit size is moderate to slightly larger with a nice eating quality.  

“We have good volume now and we are well positioned for holiday ads as we move into November and December,” he said. “We will have good volume from early January all the way through March and into early April.”

Lastly, Duda started shipping Meyer lemons the last week of October — a full week earlier than last year.  The Dandy one-pound Grab n’ Go bag is updated this year to reflect new recipes and uses for Meyer lemons. The quality is excellent with smooth, well-shaped fruit and a sweet and juicy interior, Huckabay said.  

“Meyer lemons are one of the last really seasonal items in the product department, and that creates excitement for the overall citrus set and brings attention to the category,” he said.

The company projects good volume of Meyer lemons for the Thanksgiving and Christmas holidays and continuing through March.

Duda is supporting sales with new seasonal packaging, data and an online sales kit that includes recipes for consumers and point-of-sale material.

The Produce News | Today’s Headlines – The Produce News – Covering fresh produce around the globe since 1897.

Duda Farm Fresh Foods opens California citrus season

Duda Farm Fresh Foods marks the start of the California-grown citrus season with a large variety of items available now in promotable volumes.

“The Navel oranges crop is off to an early start this season and the fruit is exceptionally sweet,” Paul Huckabay, Duda Western citrus sales manager, said in a press release.DUDA-12134-MeyerLemonBag Fr

“The Navel orange sizing is slightly smaller than the past few seasons and we are seeing a lot of excitement surrounding bag promotions for the holidays,” Huckabay said.  “We anticipate some fruit growth over the next few months and hope to have larger sized fruit near Christmas or the first of the year.”

Supplies of lemons are abundant from the California desert region. The Duda lemon crop has an even distribution of sizes which will appeal to both retail and foodservice customers.

“We plan to transition harvest to the central San Joaquin Valley district in December and then continue production into spring,” Huckabay said.

Mandarins also had an early start to the season this year, and the fruit size is moderate to slightly larger with a nice eating quality.  

“We have good volume now and we are well positioned for holiday ads as we move into November and December,” he said. “We will have good volume from early January all the way through March and into early April.”

Lastly, Duda started shipping Meyer lemons the last week of October — a full week earlier than last year.  The Dandy one-pound Grab n’ Go bag is updated this year to reflect new recipes and uses for Meyer lemons. The quality is excellent with smooth, well-shaped fruit and a sweet and juicy interior, Huckabay said.  

“Meyer lemons are one of the last really seasonal items in the product department, and that creates excitement for the overall citrus set and brings attention to the category,” he said.

The company projects good volume of Meyer lemons for the Thanksgiving and Christmas holidays and continuing through March.

Duda is supporting sales with new seasonal packaging, data and an online sales kit that includes recipes for consumers and point-of-sale material.

The Produce News | Today’s Headlines – The Produce News – Covering fresh produce around the globe since 1897.

Processing Aids for Fresh Produce: Safety Buffers Between Farm and Table

Nutrition labels on items in the produce section tend to be short, if not absent altogether. While cereals, soups and sauces come with long lists of ingredients on their packaging, an apple doesn’t need an ingredient list for consumers to know what they’re buying (although it arrived at the grocery store in a labeled package), and the ingredients for bagged salad are only as varied as the different lettuces in the bag.

However, more often than not, other substances are at some point applied to the fruits and vegetables available on store shelves in order to kill pathogens or preserve freshness. But unless these substances change the character of the food or are still present in significant amounts by the time they reach the consumer, they are considered a “processing aid,” and do not have to be listed as an ingredient by law.

According to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, processing aids are substances that are added to a food during processing but are either “removed in some manner from the food before it is packaged in its finished form” or “converted into constituents normally present in the food,” or are “present in the finished food at insignificant levels and do not have any technical or functional effect in that food.”

For more information about how processing aids are classified, see Food Safety News’ article Processing Aids: What’s Not on the Label, and Why? 

What processing aids were used on the produce I’m buying? 

Processing aids used on produce are wide-ranging, from chlorine washes to ozone to organic acids to oils derived from plants such as cinnamon or pine trees.

“It’s not always across the board for all commodities and they don’t always use [one processing aid] consistently even throughout the season,” says Trevor Suslow, extension research specialist at the University of California Davis.

The challenge for a processor is to find the substance that safely delivers the desired effect (pathogen reduction or freshness preservation) without changing the quality or taste of the food.

Items marketed as ready-to-eat, such as bagged lettuce or sliced apples, have almost certainly been treated with at least one processing aid, says Suslow.

Indeed FDA recommends the use of antimicrobial agents in its guidance for industry on minimizing microbial hazards for fresh-cut fruits and vegetables.

“An initial wash treatment may be used to remove the bulk of field soil from produce followed by an additional wash or washes containing an antimicrobial chemical,” writes the agency.

One such ready-to-eat product, bagged lettuce, usually goes through two and often three washing phases, says Suslow. The first wash water commonly contains chlorine or chlorine dioxide, while the second might include an antimicrobial agent such as peracetic acid or acidified sodium chlorite – a combination of sodium chlorite and citric acid.

Finding the right balance has been a process for the leafy greens industry, says Suslow, as too much chlorine can leave a lingering odor or flavor on greens, and too little won’t be effective at killing pathogens.

“As that industry has grown and matured and gotten some strong negative feedback earlier on about chlorine residual taste or smell, which some of the product certainly had, they’ve really worked at minimizing any carry over,” Suslow explains.

Peracetic acid is also applied by apple processors, who may use it on apples in a dunk tank or as a spray.

A 2007 study from Washington State University found that peracetic acid could also be used on cherries without changing the quality of the fruit when used at low and medium concentrations. The leading method of cherry sanitization is also a chlorine wash, according to the study.

Chlorine washes are common across the produce industry, says Suslow. Table grapes are another example of a type of produce often treated with chlorine.

“It can vary, but at least the operations that I’ve had the opportunity to visit, it’s pretty much the same,” he says. “They tend to be rinsed in chlorinated water or ozone and then they take the individual grapes off the stem after that.”

Stone fruits, such as peaches and nectarines, which are in season right now, often benefit from a chlorine wash as well, says Suslow.

FDA has set specified concentrations for processing aids used in washes so that they are present at safe levels. For example, the concentration of sodium chlorite in acid solutions used on raw agricultural commodities and processed fruits and vegetables must remain between 500 and 1,200 parts per million.

Other processing aids may be used to keep produce from spoiling. For example, grapes are often packed with pads containing sulfur dioxide to prevent decaying and the growth of mold.

On the flip side, processing aids can also be applied to induce ripening. Ethylene gas, for example, is often applied to bananas to speed up the ripening process before they are distributed to retailers, since bananas are commonly harvested in an unripened state.

Processing aids for produce: looking forward

One sector that’s recently been looking at different processing aid options is the cantaloupe industry. After two deadly foodborne illness outbreaks linked to these melons – a Listeria outbreak that killed 33 people in 2011 and a Salmonella outbreak that sickened 261 people and killed 3 in 2012 – shook consumer confidence and hurt the industry, processors have been looking for a way to ensure consumers of the safety of their product.

Processing aids are among the solutions that are being closely examined by the cantaloupe industry, along with brushing, pasteurization and other sanitizing techniques, according to Suslow.

An ongoing research project at the Center for Produce Safety is looking at the effectiveness of essential oils — such as those derived from cinnamon bark and pine needles — as antimicrobial agents.

“We’re getting promising results,” says Suslow of this research, “and we still have a ways to go.”

The trick with these oils, he notes, is to make sure they don’t affect the flavor of the produce to which they’re applied.

Another benefit of using essential oils is that they are also organic, a feature that appeals to a growing number of consumers.

Will such oils become common as processing aids in the produce industry?

That remains to be seen. Suslow says cost is a primary concern, and right now chlorine remains one of the cheapest sanitizing options for produce.

Other organic processing aids include lactic acid as an antimicrobial or ascorbic acid (derived from vitamin C) as an anti-browning agent.

For an in-depth explanation of organic versus non-organic processing aids, see Food Safety News’ article How Does the Organic Industry Regulate Processing Aids?

Another processing aid gaining popularity in the produce industry is electrolyzed oxidized water, which can be generated on-site and is sodium-free.

Fresh berries: another approach 

Of course not all produce items have been treated with processing aids. Such items may be fragile or susceptible to taste alteration, or companies might have found that other food safety precautions adequately minimize pathogens on their products. Kyle Register, a representative for Driscoll’s, which sells fresh berries, says each berry is handled only once, and goes straight from the farm where it’s picked into a clamshell and then to the grocery store. No processing aids are used on these items. Instead, the safety of the berries is controlled through stringent adherence to the company’s Global Food Safety Program, which is modeled on FDA’s good agricultural practices (GAPs) standards and verified by independent audits.

This fruit packaged without a processing aid illustrates what Suslow says is the main take-home point when it comes to processing aids for fruits and vegetables: one size does not fit all. In fact, there’s a different size for pretty much every processor, and even the same processor is likely to be exploring new methods.

“There are a variety of different processes and it’s hard to track because they often change from visit to visit,” says Suslow.

Food Safety News

Hotline Launched for Reporting Cruelty, Neglect of Farm Animals

The Humane Society of the United States (HSUS) has launched a hotline that offers a reward for whistleblowers who report cruelty and neglect on factory farms, at livestock auctions, and in slaughter houses.

The organization is offering up to $ 5,000 for information leading to the arrest and conviction of those who have committed acts of cruelty to farm animals.

The hotline was created after Idaho became the seventh state to put an “ag-gag law” on the books to criminalize undercover investigations of agricultural facilities.

Animal cruelty laws vary among states, but punching, kicking and other overt acts of violence are usually illegal. Denying adequate food, water, shelter and veterinary care to animals may lead to prosecution.

“The bleak conditions endured by animals on factory farms are often made worse by overt violence and neglect,” said Paul Shapiro, vice president of farm animal protection for HSUS. “Pigs are often beaten. Chickens are stomped on. Lame cows are left for dead. We want whistleblowers to know that help is just a phone call away.”

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