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Electrolized water for the control of postharvest decay of fruits and vegetables

Antonio Ippolito: Department of Soil, Plant, and Food Sciences, University of Bari Aldo Moro

<div>During harvest, packaging, and storage operations, fruits and vegetables are exposed to various contaminations. A critical point during postharvest handling chain is washing, in which cross-contamination by specific pathogens may occur. Sanitation is of great importance to handlers, not only to protect commodities against postharvest diseases, but also consumers from foodborne pathogens. Use of proper sanitizers help preventing product contamination and maintaining the water free of pathogens. Various disinfectants are available, however, those most used, such as sodium hypochlorite, have limitations due to risks for environmental and human health. Among the alternatives to sodium hypochlorite, electrolyzed water (EW) has recently become a popular sanitizer in the food chain. EW was firstly developed in Russia for water decontamination and regeneration; then, it gained great interest in Japan and other Countries, for sterilization of utensils, meats, cutting boards, and recently, in livestock management and for the sanitation of the washing waters of fresh and minimally processed fruits and vegetables. Generation of EW, effect of electrolytes, advantages and disadvantages on its application, physical parameters, mode of action and efficacy on different commodities will be reviewed. Particular emphasis is given to the application of EW in the washing process of fresh fruits and vegetables and its integration into current practices of postharvest handling.</div>