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      Advances in ensuring the microbiological safety of fresh produce 

      Advances in sanitising techniques and their assessment for assuring the safety of fresh produce

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          Abstract

          Fresh produce accounts for the majority of foodborne illness outbreaks and >30% of food waste attributed to premature spoilage. To date, pathogen control has been focused on the pre-harvest stage, in the form of testing and Good Agricultural Practice, given the limited efficacy of post-harvest washing to remove field-acquired contamination. However, the open nature of production systems and unreliability of testing have led to increased attention on post-harvest interventions as a type of ‘pasteurisation’ step. Attempts to improve the washing process involve identifying and maintaining sufficient free chlorine in wash tanks to prevent cross-contamination events. Alternative sanitisers to chlorine have also been evaluated although at best, minimize cross-contamination rather than support decontamination. This has led to the development of aqueous-free produce decontamination methods with gas-phase, gas plasma and hydroxyl-radical treatments showing promise. The development of a standard validation method to compare technologies is discussed along with future directions.

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