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ARS Home » Southeast Area » Fort Pierce, Florida » U.S. Horticultural Research Laboratory » Citrus and Other Subtropical Products Research » Research » Research Project #432608

Research Project: An Innovative Chlorine Dioxide Technology to Protect Fresh Produce from Decay and Foodborne Microbial Contamination

Location: Citrus and Other Subtropical Products Research

Project Number: 6034-41430-006-12-R
Project Type: Reimbursable Cooperative Agreement

Start Date: Apr 25, 2017
End Date: Aug 31, 2019

Objective:
Objective 1. Determine critical points where decay and foodborne microbial contamination occur in the postharvest handling and marketing of fresh citrus, tomatoes, strawberries and blueberries (two large fruits and two small berries important to Florida horticulture) under Florida processing conditions to optimize postharvest sanitation and to safely extend the shelf life of Florida produce. Objective 2. Develop and evaluate applications of a potent sanitizer, chlorine dioxide, under commercial packaging and transport conditions that can include unplanned changes in temperature and humidity, in collaboration with packers and shippers to determine how to best deploy the sanitizer. Objective 3. Provide assistance to industry for incorporation of chlorine dioxide decontamination technology into their processing systems.

Approach:
Conduct survey of packing houses for citrus, tomato and blueberry (strawberry is packed from the field for points of contamination, then improve sanitation at these point using chlorine dioxide, a potent sanitizer in the water wash. In addition, use sachets of chlorine dioxide in cartons (orange and tomato) or clamshells (berries) and test for efficacy against decay organisms and human pathogens.