Washing in the Packinghouse

Field-packed melons are not generally washed because of the difficult logistics of supplying adequate water to mobile washing equipment. Melons transported to packing plants may be washed by spraying over rollers in flat-bed brush washers or by immersion in a wash tank [33]. However, these investigators found little or no reduction and in some cases an elevation in microbial populations on cantaloupes and honeydew melons washed with commercial equipment in packing plants in the Rio Grande Valley of Texas. This may have resulted from contamination of the wash water and/or depletion of chlorine by reaction with organic material. It also may have been due to the limited efficacy of brush washers in detaching microbial contaminants from melon surfaces. Annous et al. [36] demonstrated the inability of a flat-bed brush washer to reduce the population of E. coli on inoculated apples. In contrast, Materon [37] reported reductions of 3.2 logs in the populations of aerobic microorganisms on cantaloupes washed by unspecified means in four commercial packinghouses, also located in the Rio Grande Valley of Texas.

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