LINDSAY, Calif. — Ever since Cal Citrus Packing Co. became part of the Sherman Oaks-based Sunkist Growers Inc. family about a year ago, the bar has been raised a bit, said Roy Bell, general manager.

One of the latest changes is the addition of a three-stage bin washer to clean and sanitize citrus bins.

Designed and built by Fruit Growers Supply Co. in Sherman Oaks in conjunction with Valley PackLine Solutions in Reedley, the huge washing machine can clean three bins at a time, inside and out.

It sterilizes the bins to prevent cross contamination, helps avoid transferring pests from one grove to another and rids bins of all kinds of debris, Bell said.

“Sunkist, in conjunction with Fruit Growers Supply Co., is addressing buyer and consumer food safety concerns,” he said. “The bins are part of an overall food safety program that includes hazard analysis and critical control point and certification.”

The washer has a carousel that holds three bins and sprayers that douse the bins with 250 gallons of recyclable water per minute, said David Sorenson, operations and technical services manager for Fruit Growers Supply Co.

The three-bin washer is more efficient than a single-bin washer because it can hold the bin for 164 seconds versus 60 seconds, he said.

“You get an extended wash time, which is an advantage as far as being able to clean the debris and the dirt off,” he said.
The machine can clean 200 bins or more per hour.

A handful of companies now use the patented device, but Cal Citrus was the first, Bell said.

The company started using the bin washer in March.

“From that moment forward, we had a tremendous improvement in decay-prevention and control,” Bell said.