VG09086 Evaluation of Vegetable Washing

This report presents the key findings and a summary of the work conducted in Victoria by the project team to evaluate various wash water treatments available to commercial vegetable growers to reduce the incidence of food borne illness and postharvest diseases.

This project compared the efficacy of sanitising chemicals available in Australia in reducing both spoilage and pathogenic microorganisms on vegetables, particularly leafy vegetables.

Leafy vegetables are often consumed uncooked and hence the way that they are washed is critical in preventing food safety incidents at point of consumption.

The comparison between sanitisers was done in a realistic commercial setting, using equipment already present on farm. The vegetables used in the testing were part of a normal harvest on that same farm.

Robert Premier

VG09086 Extract from Final Report
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Key Outcomes and Conclusions

  • Washing vegetables in water containing 100 ppm of chlorine remains the most suitable system available to growers that wash on-farm at the moment.

    Chlorine has advantages in terms of efficacy, cost effectiveness and ease of handling. This is closely followed by Chlorobromo sanitisers, which are just as effective but have a slightly higher cost.

  • Growers who produce leafy vegetables that are sold as pre-washed and ready to eat should consider using peroxyacetic acid based sanitisers. These sanitisers are however considerably more expensive and may contribute to a lower shelf life of the product.
  • Growers who supply the organic market should consider an organic based sanitiser. Although the efficacy of these is not as good as Chlorine, Chlorobromo, or peroxyacetic acid sanitisers, they still show some level of efficacy and are better than acetic acid.
  • In these trials electrified oxidised water, an emerging technology, was shown to have superior efficacy to any of the other products tested. Results also showed that product washed with electrified oxidised water had a longer shelf life.

See Also :

Quality Wash Water for Carrots & Other Vegetables – VG99005 –
Mebalds & Hamilton (2003)

Robert Premier – Research Overview – (this website)

Acknowledgements :

The project team would like to acknowledge the support and input from all those that have contributed to the project including the participating growers who wish to remain anonymous.

In addition the team would like to acknowledge the School of Land and Environment, University of Melbourne, Sandy Clarke from the University of Melbourne statistical consulting centre and Dr Marie-Astrid Ottenhof for reviewing the manuscript.

This project was funded by Horticulture Australia Limited (HAL) in partnership with AUSVEG through the National Vegetable Research and Development Levy.

The Australian Government provides matched funding for all HAL’s R&D activities.

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