Taylor Farms has washed about 2 billion pounds of leafy greens with SmartWash, its proprietary chlorine wash enhancer.
Salinas, Calif.-based New Leaf Food Safety Solutions LLC, which like Taylor Farms is a unit of Taylor Fresh Foods, hopes other produce companies soon will be marketing leafy greens, and more, that have been treated with the product.
“I’m hoping that within a couple of months — by summer — we’ll have a couple of customers on board and fully implemented,” Tanya Mason, New Leaf’s vice president for business development, said March 10.
New Leaf introduced SmartWash — which has been in development for four years, to the industry last year. Taylor Farms has used the product in all its facilities for more than a year, Mason said.
“Industry response has been pretty incredible,” she said. “We’re excited that they’re coming to us and asking about it. Our phones are ringing with people asking if they can try it.”
Mason said New Leaf has completed several in-plant trials and is negotiating installments.
“They can test drive it and make sure they’re comfortable with it in their plant,” she said.
“A trial can last anywhere from two weeks to two months. It depends on how aggressive the potential client wants to be.”
While Taylor Farms uses SmartWash for leafy greens, Mason said New Leaf has had interest from companies that produce alfalfa sprouts, tomatoes, cantaloupes, mushrooms and frozen vegetables in addition to leafy greens.
Mason said the cost of using SmartWash will vary depending on a client’s water chemistry. She said before New Leaf visits a potential customer they request that the company send a water sample to determine how much SmartWash is needed.
“It’s an added cost to the system, but it’s not a large cost,” she said.
SmartWash is a wash enhancer designed to make chlorine more effective.
“Once you have an organic load, chlorine gets consumed by that organic load,” Mason said.
“You don’t have any chlorine left to go after the microorganism. It preserves the chlorine so you have chlorine in the wash all the time. It prevents cross contamination. It’s a simple addition to an existing wash system.”
SmartWash is just one of the new wash products introduced in the past year. Cincinnati-based Chiquita Brands International — owner of Fresh Express — launched a chlorine alternative, FreshRinse, during the Produce Marketing Association’s Fresh Summit 2010 in Orlando, Fla. Another new non-chlorine produce wash, Greenwash99, is being marketed by Greenline Distributing, Salinas.
Mason isn’t discouraged by the competition.
“I think it’s good,” she said. “There’s a focus in the industry on improving wash systems. It’s exciting for us. As more people come to the surface with their products, it says to us that we’re all working to make safer products.”
Researchers from the U.S. Department of Agriculture will present their findings about SmartWash during the Center for Produce Safety’s Produce Research Symposium June 28 in Orlando, Mason said.