By Martín Mottura, Manager Postchosecha de Precisión at Citrosol
In conjunction with the European project, aqUAFRESH, CITROSOL has been able to demonstrate that the Citrocide® System offers a fully valid alternative, both technically and economically, in the replacement of chlorine for the disinfection of fresh-cut fruit and vegetable water.
From there, our commercial work began not only in Spain, but also in other countries such as Germany, to bring this solution to the industry. The reception has been great and we are receiving enquiries day after day confirming that there is a real and growing demand to replace chlorine in minimally processed fruit and vegetable washing water. However, implementation is not easy, as the use of chlorine has been very widespread for decades, and so change can be slow and complicated.
We have some cases, such as peeled garlic, where Citrocide® FRESH-CUT has been very well accepted and we have our systems installed in the main producers of processed garlic in Spain. We also have some clients who, due to problems with chlorites and chlorates in their final product, have successfully replaced chlorine with Citrocide®.
But change is slow, even in countries where the use of chlorinated disinfectants on minimally processed produce is not permitted like Germany, it has been seen that resistance to change remains, although little by little we are opening the market.
All of the Citrocide® Systems, not just FRESH-CUT, make a significant difference when compared to those currently on the market in two main areas: In the monitoring of the disinfection process and in food safety, from the point of view of the generation, or, better said, resultant by-products derived from disinfection (DBPs) that may be harmful to people or the environment.
Regarding the monitoring of the disinfection process, the Citrocide® System measures the concentration of the technological adjuvant in the wash water in real time, always guaranteeing a constant and homogeneous dose, notifying by means of alarms if any parameter falls out of range. We have been using these systems for over 10 years, and not only can we guarantee precision in this monitoring, but also that the systems are very robust and reliable. Achieving the same thing using chlorine as a disinfectant is very complicated. As of today, very few systems are capable of measuring the concentration of chlorine in water directly and reliably. The vast majority of companies that work with chlorine still monitor the disinfection process manually and do not measure continuously with the consequent risk that that may entail. Where automated systems are in use, they will usually measure REDOX, which is an indirect estimate of the concentration of chlorine in the water.
Furthermore, as far as DBPs are concerned, it has been shown that when Citrocide® Systems are used, the potential risk posed by the formation of chlorinated DBPs in the wash water is completely eliminated, thus enhancing the food safety of the final product.
We have been working with Citrocide® Systems for more than a decade, starting with peppers, believing that it would be a solution applicable only to this product. However, we have not stopped developing solutions, including for tomato, avocado, mango and sweet potato. We also recognised an important need in the washing of minimally processed fruit and vegetable produce, and have developed the Citrocide® FRESH-CUT System. The truth is that we are continuing our development work and the list we have is very long. It’s a solution that brings a lot to the table, both in terms of food safety and extending the commercial life of fruit and vegetable produce and in reducing food waste.
Another important contribution is that it allows water consumption to be reduced during washing, by keeping it in a hygienic condition for much longer, thus facilitating its recirculation. This reduction in water consumption results in huge energy savings, contributing to responsible energy consumption and the sustainable development of the fresh-cut industry.
For all this, the projection of the Citrocide® System has no limits, as we have already seen that it can be applied to a wide range of fruit and vegetable products, with important contributions at economic, food safety and environmental levels.