The aqUAFRESH European Project will improve the food safety of minimally processed fruit and vegetables and reduce water consumption during processing

The aqUAFRESH European Project will improve the food safety of minimally processed fruit and vegetables and reduce water consumption during processing

CITROSOL and KRONEN GmbH, Spanish and German companies respectively, are collaborating with the Spanish technological centre CNTA, in the prototyping of a new industrial washing process designed to apply new innocuous treatments more efficiently, aiming to increase the sustainability of water and energy use. The international consortium, aqUAFRESH, is made up of the Spanish company, CITROSOL, together with the German company, KRONEN GmbH, in collaboration with CNTA (National Centre of Technology and Food Safety) located in Navarra (Spain). The project financed by Eurostars to the tune of almost 665,000 euros, started in June 2017 and will last for two years

The ambitious aqUAFRESH project is destined to be a watershed in the operation of the Fresh-Cut produce 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 agricultural 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 global result of this project is to provide the fresh-cut industry with a comprehensive solution, the aqUAFRESH solution, which is anticipated to revolutionize a segment in constant growth as is the fresh-cut fruits and vegetables 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 horticultural industry needs to react to the growing demands for food safety, competitiveness and to reduce its environmental impact (related with its large consumption of both water and energy). 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. 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 the washing and disinfection of minimally processed fruit and vegetables. For disinfection of the fresh-cut produce wash cycle water, the Spanish company, CITROSOL 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.

For its part, the German company, KRONEN GmbH, 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.

The aqUAFRESH solution
CITROSOL, the Valencian company, is focused on improvements related to the hygienic washing and disinfection process based on the new Citrocide® formula. The Centro Nacional de Tecnología y Seguridad Alimentaria (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.

The German partner in this consortium, KRONEN GmbH, is working on the development of a new generation of more efficient and sustainable washing machines, which guarantee 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 is to provide the fresh-cut industry with a comprehensive solution, the aqUAFRESH solution. This new system will provide the fresh-cut industry with an alternative to traditional chlorine-based disinfection systems whilst continuing to guarantee food safety. In fact, the aqUAFRESH project studies the integration of all the essential parameters in the process chain, such as the effectiveness of the wash, the microorganisms load, the use of chemical agents, water use and its reuse with the consequent reduction in water consumption that could prove very important, the strategy of washing and the monitoring the disinfection process plus the preservation of the quality of freshly cut produce.

The aqUAFRESH project is funded by Eurostars, a joint program between EUREKA and the European Commission, co-financed by the Union Member States through Horizon 2020.

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Members of the consortium
CITROSOL is a Valencian company with more than 50 years’ experience dedicated to the implementation of technology and post-harvest treatments efficiency solutions and socially responsible, in the maintenance of the quality of fresh fruit and vegetables. CITROSOL started its journey researching post-harvest solutions for citrus products, and this is truly reflected in the treatment of more than five million tons of fruit every year. However, over the last decade the company has also been developing new post-harvest alternatives for other types of fruit and vegetable, both whole and fresh-cut. Examples of these are the Citrocide® Systems developed by CITROSOL for the hygienic washing of tomatoes, peppers and avocados, which represent a radical improvement in the washing of these products, guaranteeing food safety to the end consumer and reducing water consumption by 70%. Furthermore, this system is also authorized for use in the organic farming of peppers and tomatoes.

Their great ability to adapt to market circumstances makes CITROSOL a partner their clients can rely on, enhancing quality internally and respecting the environment in the manufacture of their products. The company has numerous representations and subsidiaries, such as CITROSOL South Africa PTY, international representatives in Greece,, , Croatia, Brazil, Turkey, South Africa, China, Peru and Egypt, among other countries where the company develops his activity , three national delegations in Andalusia, Murcia and Castellon and several other distributors throughout Spain. The company employs the latest technology in all of its products, developing some very innovative products such as natural and vegetable waxes and new custom formulas to meet the specific needs of individual clients.

KRONEN GmbH develops and manufactures stand alone and special machines as well as complete processing lines according to the customers’ requirements – high-duty machinery for washing, cutting, dividing, peeling, de-watering, drying, and packaging food. Today, KRONEN has 100 employees and is a globally operating supplier of machines and systems for the catering, specialty food and food industry with representations in over 60 countries and is selling its solutions in over 100 countries worldwide. KRONEN has a committed and qualified R&D department, responsible for the constant development of machines and systems, and the implementation of new technologies. The same department also works closely in cooperation with universities and research institutes. KRONEN highly values the experience and technology necessary to successfully implement R&D projects that provide the sector with innovative high-quality products.

The National Centre for Technology and Food Safety – CNTA (Centro Nacional de Tecnología y Seguridad Alimentaria) located in San Adrian (Navarra, Spain), is the Research and Technological collaborator within the aqUAFRESH project. CNTA is a non-profit organization, created in 1981 on the initiative of the Industrial Association of Vegetables Preserves of the Ebro Valley, Spain, with the aim of contributing to the development and innovation of food companies and by extension to enhance the competitiveness of the sector. CNTA is a centre of reference in the fresh-cut industry in Spain and within Europe, and has participated in very relevant initiatives, such as the EU Resfood project, in addition to providing continuous service to companies in the sector throughout Spain.

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