All produce, whether from the garden or commercially grown, carry microorganisms from the environment. Safety is assured by applying Good Agricultural Practice (GAP) from the seed onward, Good Hygienic Practice (GHP) from harvest and handling and Good Manufacturing Practice (GMP) during preparation. Washing is essential to remove the soil and debris before consumption.
Consequently, leafy salads sold as washed and ready to eat are thoroughly washed in water. The water is often chlorinated or treated with fruit acids to ensure that the leaves are as clean as possible and fit for immediate consumption without further washing.
Prewashed prepared produce does not benefit from rewashing in the home as this may result in cross-contamination, and does not further improve hygiene.
Environmentally Acceptable Washing Methods
There is a constant development programme throughout the salad industry to find new efficient, cost effective, and environmentally acceptable washing approaches ranging from spring water washing through to the use of fruit acid based biocides and chlorine derivatives.
All washing approaches that are in commercial use have been assessed and validated as fit for purpose.
However, CFA’s Micro Guidance for Growers sets out how to minimise the opportunity for contamination in the field through the application of HACCP systems is key to assuring the microbiological quality of salad produce.