Seems like every few months, we're hearing about a salmonella or E. coli scare. Lettuce, tomatoes, eggs, and more are seemingly becoming gateways to pathogens in our food system.
Leave it to food science to strike back. Cincinnati-based producer Chiquita announced Friday that it had successfully developed a new salad wash that will dramatically reduce the risk of bacterial contamination in packaged lettuces. Chiquita is the largest player in that market thanks to its Fresh Express brand of bagged salads.
The wash, called FreshRinseT, was developed by Chiquita over two years. According to the company, it can effectively
combat the growth of bacteria such as salmonella, E. Coli, and listeria
monocytogenes on lettuce leaves up to 78 times more effectively than
the industry standard chlorine wash currently used. In addition, FreshRinseT is said to keep lettuce fresher longer and allow lettuces to
maintain their aroma and crisp green color.
At a recent news conference, Chiquita CEO Fernando Aguirre called the wash the future of food safety.
"Chlorine is the abacus, and FreshRinse is the iPad," said Aguirre.
Until now, packaged salads had used a chlorine wash to rid lettuce
leaves of harmful bacteria. Most recently, outbreaks of salmonella on packaged spinach sent consumers and the food industry into a state
of heightened safety this May.
FreshRinseT contains no chlorine.
It uses a peroxide called peroxyacetic acid, as well as lactic acid, to
combat bacteria. Both substances are already approved for use in
consumer foods by the FDA, meaning Chiquita can begin using FreshRinseT
Chiquita has said that FreshRinseT has already been
endorsed by leading food safety experts such as Dr. Michael T.
Osterholm, director of the Center for Infectious Disease Research and
Policy at the University of Minnesota; and Dr. David Acheson, former
associate commissioner of food safety for the FDA. The company has
applied for a patent but says it plans to share the rinse with
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What does this mean for the consumer? Fresher,
safer bagged lettuces showing up in grocery stores as early as the end
of this year.