Exploring food safety of fresh-cut vegetable processing and water disinfection with ultraviolet and free chlorine

Research output: Contribution to conferencePosterProfessional


Climate change and water scarcity demand an efficient use of our freshwater sources. Although we seek solutions to secure safe food, we currently use large amounts of water during vegetable processing. Previous scientific research emphasizes a need to prevent cross-contamination of microbiological pathogens via the water to the produce and subsequently between produce batches. Treating the water with disinfection technologies aims to reduce the number of pathogens in the water, allowing one to reuse the water and resulting in a lower probability of recontamination of subsequent product batches. In the fresh-cut vegetable setting, concerns with the presence of Listeria monocytogenes and the demands for reduced water during washing raise questions about the feasibility of water disinfection technologies to meet these objectives. Our research evaluates ultraviolet (UV) and free chlorine (FC) during fresh-cut lettuce processing at a pilot scale.
Materials and Methods
A pilot-scale washing line was constructed and assessed for the efficacy of UV, FC, and UV + FC during fresh-cut lettuce processing (± 300 kg/h) on reducing wash-water challenged with Listeria innocua (6 log CFU/mL). A target concentration of 7-8 ppm and 2-3 ppm FC, during single and combined tests, respectively, was assessed. Single technologies were tested for 60 min, and UV + FC was tested for 180 min. The quality of the treated water and the lettuce was monitored for parameters like temperature, pH, chemical oxygen demand, conductivity, UV transmission, FC, total viable counts, and Listeria spp.
Our results illustrate a single and combined application of UV and FC and the effects thereof on water quality during vegetable processing. Considerations for the formation of residual compounds in the reused process water are important to realize both microbiological and chemical food safety.
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusPublished - Oct 2023
EventBSFM Conference on Food Microbiology - Brussel, Belgium
Duration: 12 Oct 202313 Oct 2023


ConferenceBSFM Conference on Food Microbiology


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