Chiquita Unveils Biggest Food Safety Invention Since Pre-Packaged Salads

Breakthrough 'FreshRinse' technology will be made available to the industry.

Orlando: Chiquita Brands is introducing a technology breakthrough for food safety and freshness, after years of intensive research and investment.

The unveiled FreshRinse technology is a new produce wash that dramatically reduces microorganisms on leafy greens and better maintains freshness. Of equal importance, as part of Chiquita's longstanding commitment to public health and raising industry food safety standards, FreshRinse will be made available for license to the entire industry.

"Based on our extensive research, we view FreshRinse as the biggest invention since the start of pre-packaged salads," said Fernando Aguirre, chairman and chief executive officer. "FreshRinse sets a new standard in food safety for the produce industry. We continue to deliver breakthrough innovations and we plan to make this new technology available to the industry. We want consumers and customers to know they have an important new option when making purchase decisions."

FreshRinse is a scientifically validated advancement for fresh produce safety that delivers a substantial reduction in microorganisms on leafy greens, including superior microbial efficacy against such pathogens as Salmonella, Listeria monocytogenes and E. coli O157:H7, as compared to the industry's conventional chlorine sanitizers.

FreshRinse, when compared to traditional chlorine sanitizers, has been found to be of superior microbial efficacy and to better maintain freshness. After rigorous testing, including challenge studies on suspended and attached pathogen cells, FreshRinse results indicated substantial reduction of food borne pathogens like Listeria monocytogenes, Salmonella and E. coli O157:H7 than chlorine sanitizers, with a third-party pathogen study performed by the National Center for Food Safety and Technology.

In attached cell testing, FreshRinse technology was shown to deliver a higher reduction for certain pathogens on certain leafy greens versus chlorine produce washes.

FreshRinse was shown to reduce nine times or more of E. coli O157:H7 and Salmonella for Romaine lettuce and Spinach versus chlorine produce washes. For example, FreshRinse reduced 78 times more Salmonella that were attached on Romaine lettuce leaves. FreshRinse also secondarily resulted in more than 750 times greater reduction of suspended pathogens compared to chlorinated wash water.

Mike Burness, vice president for global food safety and quality reiterated the breakthrough nature of the technology and confirmed that significant research had been conducted to demonstrate its effectiveness in a real-world environment, under processing conditions, and conforming to current industry manufacturing standards.

"The results we've seen have shown that FreshRinse delivers outstanding improvements in food safety for leafy greens," said Burness. "We are also very pleased that, after reviewing the technology, we have had such reinforcing responses from Drs. Osterholm, Acheson and Buchanan – three world renowned experts in food safety."

The FreshRinse technology is a distinctive invention developed through years of intensive research by Fresh Express principal scientist Dr. Kai-Lai Grace Ho, with support from the company's R&D, food safety, innovations, engineering and manufacturing teams.

FreshRinse is a combination of Generally Recognized as Safe (GRAS) and an FDA-approved ingredient that significantly enhances pathogen reduction and retains freshness. It is acceptable for use on both conventional and organic produce. FreshRinse has the potential for far-reaching and meaningful future applications and is an environmentally friendly technology. Ingredients will decompose to environmentally safe and friendly compounds that pose no harm to the environment.

Commercial application for FreshRinse has been scientifically validated during the past five months, working seamlessly under salad manufacturing conditions and yielding positive consumer experiences. With FreshRinse, fresh produce does not undergo the chlorine sanitation process and therefore better retains its natural color and aroma.

In order to provide information about the benefits of this new technology, Fresh Express targeted the largest gathering of produce executives in the nation – the Produce Marketing Association's (PMA) Fresh Summit – for the FreshRinse debut, thereby ensuring that both large and small produce businesses have the opportunity to learn about this new technology.

In addition, Fresh Express is planning to integrate a major consumer education program, including significant television and print advertising and other outreach activities to inform consumers about the important food safety and quality benefits of FreshRinse.