Processing Produce at the Speed of Light

Each year, millions of people are sickened, and hundreds of thousands of people fall gravely ill or die as a result of foodborne pathogens. The world’s skyrocketing demand for food has forced leading producers into industrial farming configurations that...


Working closely with the USDA, ScanTech plans to open a facility in McAllen, Texas enabling irradiation of fruits and vegetables that are crossing the border in both directions. The United States imported $8.4 billion worth of fruit and vegetables from Mexico, Central America, and South America in 2011, $7.9 billion of that directly from Mexico. There is a coordinated effort between CBP and USDA calling for a “fast pass” lane at border crossings to allow trucks to move through the checkpoint quickly if the manifest and “paperwork” shows the product crossing is to be treated at an ECP or similar type of facility. These trucks will be required to follow a specified route directly to the treatment facility, before heading to its final destination. The ScanTech facility will be the first facility built under this new rule and the first produce treatment facility that will be USDA approved, “pest free,” and ISO14470.

In order for a facility to be approved by USDA as a “pest free facility,” it has to meet strict guidelines set forth by USDA regulations. One of these requirements is a physical separation between the “untreated” side of the facility and the “treated” side to ensure prevention of cross-contamination. The facility in McAllen will be the first of its kind to keep the cold chain intact from grower to final destination, and unlike most treatment facilities, specific design plans are being made with cold chain management in mind. The facility will use state-of-the art handling and engineering systems that will be unparalleled in the industry to enable best-in-class cold chain processes.

 

Jaymie Forrest is managing director of the Georgia Tech Supply Chain & Logistics Institute and co-founder of the Integrated Food Chain Research Center.

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