Cleaning Fruits and Vegetables. What Is Being Done?

(CINCINNATI – Nov. 15, 2006) – Now that American restaurants and other foodservice outlets are serving spinach again, those in the industry still want to know what they can do to reduce risk and help protect their customers from E. coli and other pathogens.
“The industry needs to have confidence in food safety so they can provide customers more produce, not less,” said Todd Wichmann, a chemical engineer by training and President of HealthPro Brands, maker of FIT Fruit and Vegetable Wash.
In a germ-conscious society, is washing with water or using chlorine bleach enough?  
The industry is making this their number one priority. “Food safety is a shared responsibility,” Wichmann said.
 
Industry Practice
It is widely known that fresh cut produce processors use chlorine bleach or chlorine dioxide to wash produce. However, as the FDA has acknowledged, bacteria can be tightly attached to produce and the current guidelines are not designed to kill the E. coli on the produce itself.
Wichmann said FIT’s commercial produce wash can help overcome that problem when washing fresh cut and other processed produce. FIT helps provide the much needed “kill step” the industry is not currently practicing. FIT’s commercial formula has been found to be effective in killing 99.9 percent of bacteria, including E. coli, Salmonella and Staphylococcus aureus, on processed produce (cut, chopped, peeled, etc.). These bacteria have been associated with food-borne illnesses.
The ingredients in FIT, specifically its natural surfactants, act as “wetting agents” which are designed to lift off and kill the pathogens on processed produce. FIT is able to get into “nooks and crannies” that other washing systems may not.   
 “We found it works better than chlorine,” said Sandy Watts of Mundo Exports, a Texas-based mango importer who has been using FIT to wash and sanitize mangos and flowers sold to the floral industry. “Chlorine dissipates too fast, but this pH-balanced product lasts longer,” he said. “Another advantage is that it is more environmentally friendly than chlorine” said Watts. The U.S. Army has been ordering FIT to help clean and sanitize produce for soldiers in Iraq.
 
Practices at Home
Many people at home wash fruits and vegetables with water alone. Wichmann says that’s not enough and he poses this analogy: people don’t use water alone to wash their hands or cutting boards, so using more than water for washing fruits and vegetables is something to consider. Produce is typically handled by many different people as it goes from being picked in the field, to being packed in a processing facility, to being handled by consumers at the point of purchase.
Our sense of safety should not increase just because a fruit or vegetable has a skin that we may not eat. Once you make a cut with a knife, germs and pathogens on the outside can be transferred inside, Wichmann said.
FIT is available in select grocery stores or can be located on www.fitwash.com. Consumers and businesses can also purchase FIT online. FIT also makes the produce look, smell, and even taste better, according to Wichmann.
 
More About Fit
FIT is made from all natural and every day food ingredients, such as citric acid and grapefruit oil. It rinses away clean and, unlike chlorine, leaves no aftertaste or smell. Wichmann said FIT also cleans faster than chlorine, saving energy, time and water for industry users.
FIT Fruit and Vegetable Wash removes up to three times more chemicals and residues than washing with water alone. The product underwent extensive testing in its own laboratories and an independent laboratory. A comparison of the effectiveness of FIT versus water was conducted by applying commonly occurring residues to popular fruits and vegetables.  
Some substances, notably wax, are water-insoluble and cannot be adequately removed with water alone. Unlike soap products, FIT is completely safe and natural and has been specially formulated for use on produce. FIT’s formula rinses away with water, leaving behind the true flavor and goodness natureintended.
FIT was originally developed by Procter & Gamble in 2000 and was sold to HealthPro Brands Inc. in 2006. FIT is the only produce wash certified Kosher and recommended by the American Vegetarian Association. More information can be found online at www.fitwash.com.