Chlorine Dioxide Gas Treats Produce Pathogens

A few hundred-thousand dollars have been awarded to the validation study for the tree-fruit industry, evaluating effective strategies of sanitizing harvest bins and picking bags. The Center for Produce Safety awarded research funds to Valentina Trinetta, Ph.D. at Kansas State University, to survey and identify strategies to clean harvesting tools, bins, and containers.

The data generated from this study will improve the competitiveness of tree fruit crops, and will manage food safety risks tied to poor sanitation of harvesting bins and picking bags. This specific study is focused on apples, but the results could help growers and packers of similar products. Industries that use plastic bins, wood bins, or nylon bags can benefit from the results of the study.

In this two-year study, concluding later in 2023, two objectives have been identified:

“1) evaluate the effectiveness of commercially available sanitizers (chlorine, chlorine dioxide, peracid, steam, and silver dihydrogen citrate) in reducing Listeria monocytogenesSalmonella and Escherichia coli on experimentally inoculated coupons (wood, plastic and nylon) representative of food contact surfaces commonly used in the apple industry during harvesting; and

2) validate selected sanitizers against surrogate microorganisms (Enterococcus faeciumListeria innocua, and generic Escherichia coli) on bins and harvesting bags at commercial operations.”

Initial Results Show Chlorine Dioxide Gas to be Effective

While treatments are still ongoing in the study, Trinetta has said some trends are already apparent, “I don’t have the final statistics, but I can tell you that wood is very difficult to clean, and plastic is the surface that is the easiest to clean,” Trinetta said. “Chlorine dioxide gas has been giving us good results.”

Dr. Trinetta will present her final report at the 2023 CPS Research Symposium in Buckhead, Georgia on June 20-21st, 2023.


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