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Wash Water Sanitation
Not Just An Issue For Sprouts

Our continuing coverage of the outbreaks related to sprouts seems to bring no end of ideas for improving the situation. Here is one from a vendor who mentions that one need not necessarily buy his product:

Thanks for the good words that come in your column; I appreciate the viewpoint and frank opinion you bring to these discussions.

Instead of hypochlorite, why don’t sprout growers use chlorine dioxide? It has no organoleptic impact, is organic approved and is many times more effective than hypo. We (Pureline Treatment Systems) manufacture a ClO2 generator that produces 99.5% pure ClO2 at pH 7; it’s kind of pricey, but there is also a product out there that just received EPA approval last week that is 99% pure with a moderate pH that simply requires the mixing of two powders and generates ClO2 in 1 hour with no capital equipment at all.

I keep waiting for the FDA to get serious about having processors test produce wash water for micros; the use of hypochlorite for wash water sanitation will cease after the first batch of results.

Many processors are simply running their product through a “stew” of bacteria, thinking that chlorine is doing the job. One look at the scum line at the top of the wash tank says otherwise.

Wash water should be relatively clear, with decent turbidity; if it is more than cloudy, it’s dirty. Customers deserve better.

That’s my two bits; thanks again,

— Steve Eberhard
Pureline Treatment Systems
Irvine, California

The issue of wash water goes well beyond sprouts. We often hear government officials complaining that the produce industry uses chlorine as if it has been approved to remove pathogens from produce when it has actually only been approved to help keep the water clean.

The traditional concern with chlorine dioxide in the sprouting community was the expense, but Steve is pointing to new options that may alleviate that concern. If so, this may become a new option for many.

Many thanks to Steve Eberhard and Pureline Treatment Systems for helping to keep the industry up to date in this matter.

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