How “ORGANIC” is Organic Sanitized Produce.

By Dr. John A. Lopes Ph.D.

Almost every week we come across news about recall of contaminated fresh fruits and vegetables lettuce, tomatoes, etc. that made people sick. This news is more often associated with contaminated organically grown fruits and vegetables. Organic fruits and vegetables are grown in natural rich organic soil that results from metabolic activities of billions and billions of microorganisms that degrade organic plant matter. Thus, organic fruits and vegetables comparatively carry a heavier load of microorganisms.

Some of these bacteria can degrade organic matter more efficiently and spoil fruits and vegetables. Some, such as listeria, salmonella could be pathogenic, originating from waste animal matter, insects, birds and rodents. Because of sheer diversity and intensity of microbiota on organically grown produce, there is greater need for cleaning or sanitizing organic fresh fruits and vegetables.

The produce surface has an intricate architecture. The shining surfaces of tomatoes or cucumbers have numerous pores and natural stomata, where bacteria can hide.  Ordinarily microorganisms strongly adhere and penetrate the surface of fruits and vegetables. These contaminants are resistant to dislodging with simple water or more efficient surfactants. Clean looking produce may have plenty of contaminating microorganisms.

Various organic agencies certify specific agents to clean and sanitize organic produce to maintain its organic character. The certified sanitizing agents include oxidizing agents such as hypochlorite or peracetic acid to kill the bacteria left over after cleaning with water.

Fresh fruits and vegetables have vitamins, phytochemicals, essential nutrients and other sensitive organic matter which can be easily be oxidized and denatured. All oxidizing agents including; ozone, hydrogen peroxide and other organic certified oxidizing agents covalently bind and denature or modify pristine organic matter. Dr. Brackett1 has shown that even a 15 to 30 second treatment with hypochlorite can chlorinate some of the organic matter on food and generate carcinogenic byproducts. Using these oxidizing agents to sanitize produce and you have lost the very purpose of maintaining the wholesome and organic character of your produce.

Microcide offers safe and effective technology which is as powerful or more than any of the present sanitizing agents for food safety. There are several non-destructive non-oxidizing PRO-SAN products that are competitively priced and are available for produce safety (www.microcide.com).