Friday, December 23, 2011


There was a time when chlorine was considered the most efficient disinfectant in food industry besides its preeminent role for disinfecting water. With serious doubts being raised about the safety of chlorine, many alternative chemicals have come to the fore which include ozone, trisodium phosphate, chlorine dioxide, hydrogen peroxide etc. The problem with chlorine is that it leaves a residue for longer time, reacts with organic substances generating toxic artifacts besides being dangerous to store and handle. Emergence of Hydrogen Peroxide as an efficient disinfectant in recent times owes it to its relative safety and ease of handling. Of course such treatments will help only to prevent fast deterioration of cut surfaces besides killing the bacteria present on the surface coming from the field. The progressive quality changes with time, due to physiological and biochemical reactions, especially at ambient temperatures cannot be stopped using H2O2. The practical way of using this chemical is illustrated in the following report: 

Keep it Fresh with Hydrogen Peroxide Whether it's a crisp head of Romaine or a new bag of fresh spinach, you can keep greens, fruits and veggies fresh and healthy longer with hydrogen peroxide. Spritz fresh cut salads immediately­ after making (before there is any dressing on them), then cover and keep in the refrigerator or until ready to serve. If you only dress the salad you serve, you can return the remaining salad to the refrigerat­or with the same treatment. It will taste fresh and remain crisp for up to several days! Wash hard skinned veggies like zucchini, celery, egg plants and tomatoes in a bath of half a sink of cold water and 5 ounces 3 percent food grade hydrogen peroxide. Grapes, apples, pears, cherries, melons and plums can also all be washed this way. For thinner skinned fruits and vegetables­, as well as berries and sprouts, simply spritz with a solution of 1 quart distilled or spring water and 4 ounces hydrogen peroxide. If you want more hydrogen peroxide in your diet, eat more water cress or asparagus. Both are excellent sources. (The hydrogen peroxide you use to clean your fruits and veggies will dissipate into water and oxygen in its active role of killing bacteria and microorganisms, so it can't really be considered a dietary source of h2o2).

Such simple techniques will help common man to take more precaution in processing market accessed fresh produce at home with least skill but very effectively. Recent food poisoning episodes in the US traced to Salmonella on fresh produce like Tomato, Spinach, Water Melon etc could have been avoided if techniques like H2O2 treatment were popularized among the consumers. Probably this method may be more appropriate considering that the alternative option of irradiation is still not practical due to severe consumer reservation. Several years ago food scientists at Mysore, India had worked out a dipping technique using some solutions capable of reducing pesticides residue in fresh produce dramatically, though its wide scale application never materialized due to lack of promotion. In a world becoming increasingly dangerous to live because of uncertainties regarding the safety of foods sourced and marketed from different parts of the world, such simple techniques as illustrated above will go a long way in reassuring the hard pressed denizens that, despite the pervading gloom around, all is not lost yet!


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