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Integration of postharvest fungicides and fruit sanitation treatments to optimize decay control and address food safety concerns

James Adaskaveg: Department of Microbiology and Plant Pathology, University of California

<div><span face="Calibri" style="font-family:Calibri;" size="3">Aqueous postharvest recycling fungicide-drench applications are one on the most effective strategies for preventing fruit decay at low use rates and fruit residues. Sporulation control, however, is optimized when fungicides are used in fruit coatings that also improve fruit appearance and reduce water loss during storage/marketing. Thus, staged or sequential fungicide applications during postharvest processing-grading of fruit result in the highest level of decay management. With the establishment of the Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA) in the United States, sanitation of recycling fungicide drenches is mandatory due to the potential contamination with food-borne human pathogens. This has caused the potential elimination of recycling fungicide-drench treatments due to sanitizer incompatibility with fungicides and/or worker safety issues from volatile odors. Thiabendazole, fludioxonil, azoxystrobin, and difenoconazole are compatible with sodium hypochlorite; whereas imazalil, pyrimethanil, and natamycin are not. These fungicides except natamycin are compatible with peroxyacetic acid. Both sanitizers, however, are odoriferous. Acidification (pH 3.5) with natural organic acids and food-grade surfactants is compatible with all postharvest fungicides, non-odoriferous, non-phytotoxic, and toxic to human-borne pathogens. Thus, sanitation of recycling fungicide-drenches by acidification meets FSMA requirements and allows highly effective decay control.</span></div>