Chlorine’s first role in food safety and water disinfection is on the farm. Chlorinated water lowers the transmission of disease-causing pathogens to crops and farm animals. It also prevents the formation of bacterial slime on implements and watering equipment. To gain background knowledge on the general properties and usage of chlorine, it is recommended that you read this article first:
*Chlorination in the production and postharvest handling of fresh fruits and vegetables by Trevor Suslow Extension Specialist Postharvest Pathology, Transportation & Distribution
- Disinfection of seed by soaking chlorinated water (often with heating) is used to reduce the potential for viral, bacterial and fungal diseases.
- Recently, following repeated outbreaks of Salmonella and E.coli on sprouted seeds, such as alfalfa, it is recommended that they are presoaked in a 20 000 mg/l calcium hypochlorite solution.
- Chlorine is used to treat irrigation water for control of plant pathogens in mainlines, gated pipe and drip lines
- Prevents bacterial slime on trickle / drip irrigation lines
- Useful in the treatment of Nutrient film Culture water in the hydroponic production of vegetables to control root pathogens.
Horticultural Activities using Chlorinated Disinfectants in Fresh Fruit & Vegetables
|Activity||Application||Rate (mg/l)||Primary Target Microbe or Benefit||In Use|
|Seed||Soak /Soak with heated water||200 to 2000||Seed-borne pathogen (virus, bacteria, fungi)||Common|
|Cuttings / Slips||Spray / Soak||20 to 40||Bacteria, fungal spores||Limited|
|Cutting / Grafting Implements||Dip / Spray||25 to 100||Bacteria, fungal spores, virus||Common|
|Automated Propagation||Potato seed-piece cutting blades||50 to 100||Bacteria||Limited|
|Transplant Production||Irrigation water||1.0 to 2.5||bacteria, Pythium, Pytophthora, Colletotrichum spp.||Limited|
|Hydroponic Culture||irrigation, fertigation water. Nutrient Film Culture||0.5 to 1.5||bacteria, Pythium, Pytophthora, Colletotrichum spp.||Limited|
|Drip Line Maintenance||Purge injection||50 to 150 acidified||Biofilm removal and prevention||Common|
|Well Treatment||Purge treatment||200 to 500||Coliform elimination||Common|
|Spray Tank Treatment||General sanitation||50 to 150||Biofilm removal and prevention||Limited|
|Field Equipment (discs, blades, tracks)||General sanitation||50 to 100 with high pressure sprayer||Soil-borne pathogens||Limited|
|Harvest Totes||General sanitation||50 to 150||Bacterial, fungal spores||Common|
|Head Spray||Cauliflower||50 to 100 with plastic over-wrap||Prevent floret browning (bacteria, fungi and enzymatic browning from harvest damage)||Common|
|Drench Tanks||wash water sanitation||50 to 400||Bacterial, fungal spores||Common|
|Dump Tanks and Flotation Tanks||Tomato, Pepper, Citrus, Apples, Pears||50 to 400||Bacterial, fungal spores, surface microbial load reduction||Common|
|Flumes||Tomatoes, sweet potatoes||150 to 200 with heat||Bacteria, fungal spores||Common|
|Wash spray Bars||Wash water sanitation||75 to 150||Bacteria, surface microbial load reduction||Common|
|Ice injection||source ice disinfection||25 to 50||Colifom elimination, virus||Limited|
|Hydro cooler||Cooling water sanitation||50 to 300||Bacteria, surface microbial load reduction||Common|
|Abrasive peelers||Wash water sanitation||50 to 200||Bacteria, surface microbial load reduction||Common|
|Minimally Processed Vegetables||Wash and cooling water sanitation||50 to 200||Bacteria, surface microbial load reduction||Common|
|Packing Line Sanitation||Conveyer belts, pads, diverters, shutes, etc||Chlorinated foams or chlorinated water sprays (variable)||Biofilm prevention, general microbial reduction on contact surfaces||Limited|
|Misting Lines and Nozzles||Water sanitation distribution centers, retail display||5 to 10||Biofilm prevention, coliform elimination||Common|
|Retail Trim and Wash||Wash water sanitation||25 to 50||Bacteria, surface microbial load reduction||Uncommon|
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