Effect of Disinfectants on Preventing the Cross-Contamination of Pathogens in Fresh Produce Washing Water

J.L. Banach, I. Sampers, S. van Haute, H.J. van der Fels

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

110 Citations (Scopus)


The potential cross-contamination of pathogens between clean and contaminated produce in the washing tank is highly dependent on the water quality. Process wash water disinfectants are applied to maintain the water quality during processing. The review examines the efficacy of process wash water disinfectants during produce processing with the aim to prevent cross-contamination of pathogens. Process wash water disinfection requires short contact times so microorganisms are rapidly inactivated. Free chlorine, chlorine dioxide, ozone, and peracetic acid were considered suitable disinfectants. A disinfectant’s reactivity with the organic matter will determine the disinfectant residual, which is of paramount importance for microbial inactivation and should be monitored in situ. Furthermore, the chemical and worker safety, and the legislative framework will determine the suitability of a disinfection technique. Current research often focuses on produce decontamination and to a lesser extent on preventing cross-contamination. Further research on a sanitizer’s efficacy in the washing water is recommended at the laboratory scale, in particular with experimental designs reflecting industrial conditions. Validation on the industrial scale is warranted to better understand the overall effects of a sanitizer.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)8658-8677
JournalInternational Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health
Publication statusPublished - 2015


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