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Optimization of Water use in Fresh-cut Processing Industry

KJ Staff
KJ Staff

In view of the Water scarcity Globally, World Agricultural Scientists are developing the techniques to use minimal water for washing the fresh cut of  fruits and vegetables. The new techniques in the form of a Aquafresh Project by collaborating with the two companies  seems to be promising.

The horticultural and Fresh-cut industry needs to react to the growing demands for food safety, competitiveness and its environmental impact. Washing with fresh water is the main post-harvest process carried out by this industry to eliminate dirt and reduce the microbial load of fruit and vegetables. With the project aquafresh the partners want to improve the food safety of processed fresh fruit and vegetables and to reduce water consumption during processing. Kronen and the Spanish company CITROSOL are collaborating with the Spanish technological centre CNTA in the prototyping of a new industrial washing process.

Saving, reusing and recycling of water leads to an efficient use of this resource. In addition, it reduces wasteful discharges and thus the impact of the same on the environment. Aquafresh is striving to develop a new technologically feasible and economically competitive system for washing and disinfection of Fresh-cut fruit and vegetables without using chemical additives.

The aquafresh project follows a holistic approach studying the integration of all the essential parameters in the process chain, such as the effectiveness of the wash, the micro-organisms load, the use of chemical agents, the water use and its reuse with the consequent reduction in water consumption, the monitoring of the disinfection process plus the preservation of the quality of freshly cut produce. 

The international consortium of aquafresh is made up of the two project partners, KRONEN from Kehl at the Rhine in Germany and CITROSOL from Valencia, as well as the CNTA (National Centre of Technology and Food Safety) located in Navarra in Spain.

CITROSOL is focused on improvements related to the hygienic washing and disinfection process. The company has developed a new formulation within its range of Citrocide® products that will be applied in a fully automated way at an industrial level. This system is able to accurately manage the most relevant washing process parameters and to log the necessary data.
The ambitious goal of the so-called aqusfresh project is destined to be a watershed in the operation of the Fresh-cut industry: cutting, washing and packaging of ready-to-eat fruit and vegetables.

The aim of which is to reformulate the current working system of the industry reducing both water and energy use during washing and disinfection, mitigating the environmental impact, and improving the food safety for the end consumer. The new washing system is supposed to provide the Fresh-cut industry with an alternative to traditional chlorine-based disinfection systems whilst continuing to guarantee food safety.

The CNTA, under CITROSOL’s supervision, will evaluate the antimicrobial efficacy of the new formula in the wash water over different Fresh-cut products at an industrial level. CNTA is to study the impact of disinfecting within wash water on product quality and food safety.

KRONEN is working on the development of a revolutionary washing machine that will be the benchmark for a new generation of more efficient and sustainable washing machines for the Fresh-cut industry. It guarantees an effective cleansing of the produce with a rational use of resources, whilst, at the same time, meeting both the hygienic requirements and the principles of good hygienic design established by the different directives, both European and worldwide.

The Global result of this project is to provide the Fresh-cut industry with a comprehensive, sustainable solution, which is anticipated to revolutionize a segment in constant growth as is the Fresh-cut sector. Aquafresh  results will be carefully considered by the European Food Safety Authority as a valuable data when assessing the ready-to-eat fruit and vegetable produce sector.

The project started in June 2017 and will last for two years. It is funded by Eurostars, a joint program between EUREKA and the European Commission, co-financed by the Union Member States through Horizon 2020, to the tune of almost 665,000 Euros.

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