Leaders in Agricultural Innovation: A Recap of the First Annual Agri-Food Innovation and Food Safety Conference

On November 3rd, Clean Works, the University of Guelph and the Town of Lincoln came together to host the first Annual Agri-Food Innovation and Food Safety Conference in Balls Falls Niagara. The conference was sponsored by OMAFRA to showcase the diverse economy and promote agricultural innovation in the Niagara region. During the Conference, some of the leaders in agricultural innovation shared their experiences with Clean Works technology. They also identified its current and future applications in retail, food growing, and food processing. Consequently, the conference included presentations from:

How Clean Works is Currently Shaping Agricultural Innovation

Agro-innovation is at the heart of what we do at Clean Works. Since the Clean Works Process was commercialized in 2017, the waterless technology has diversified into a wide range of applications in different parts of the food industry. The process combines UV light, hydrogen peroxide and ozone to kill pathogens, increase shelf-life and reduce food waste. Our innovative technology is now accepted and used by most national retailers in North America, including Wegmans, Walmart, Kroeger Private Label, Publix, Costco and Sobeys. Andrew Moore, the director of food safety at Sobeys, shared that food safety is a growing concern in the retail environment. He also shared that produce has become a high-risk commodity subject to more recalls due to known and unknown environmental risks.

The Clean Works Process is 99.99% effective in killing harmful pathogens; a more effective alternative to traditional post-harvest washing. The effectiveness of the Clean Works Process in decontaminating produce has led to agricultural innovation projects with Vineland Estates Winery and Vineland Research and Innovation Center(VRIC). A panel discussion with Andrew Wylie from VRIC, Allan Schmidt from Vineland Estates Winery, and Dan Collins from E & J Collins, shed light on some of these innovative projects. Andrew shared the promising new results from the On-The-Vine trial. The 2-month study showed that the Clean Works Process increases disease suppression and reduces mildew fungicide resistance in grape vines. According to Allan, who helped fund the project, “The technology is a game-changer in food safety worldwide.” The results could significantly impact the grape and wine industries. Dan spoke about implementing a commercialized unit at E & J Collins and its effectiveness in reducing disease severity in spinach.

The Future of the Clean Works Process

Evidently, what was created as a solution to the Listeria outbreak affecting the caramel apple industry in 2015 has become a widely adaptive technology with an endless possibility of applications. According to Professor Keith Warriner, the applications of the Clean Works Process can only be limited by imagination. In a study conducted at the University of Guelph, Vanessa Martinez tested the applications of the Clean Works Process in treating hatchery eggs and raw poultry meat. The study showed that the Clean Works Process can be optimized to decontaminate hatchery eggs and poultry meat. This increases shelf life without negatively impacting the embryo development of the eggs or the qualities of the meat. “It still amazes me that the technology of Clean Works came out of wanting to find a solution to save our Caramel Apple business. This technology remarkably impacts many people’s lives by providing safe food supplies worldwide,” said Mark VanderVeen, President of Court Holdings Manufacturing.

Finally, the conference ended with a live demonstration of the Clean Works Process at Moyers Apple production facility in Beamsville. It was exciting to see the interest of professionals in the industry who came to share and learn more about the technology revolutionizing food safety. “I genuinely enjoyed the entire day. The content and agenda were amazing and so relevant to every aspect of food production,” said Allan Schmidt, President of Vineland Estate Winery. We appreciate our partners, sponsors, vendors and speakers for making the first annual Agri-Food Innovation and Food Safety Conference a success. We look forward to seeing where innovation leads us. Whether it’s air disinfection, an alternative to pesticides or domestic applications, the future of the Clean Works Process is very bright.

Learn more about Clean Works and how our innovative technology is shaping the agricultural industry.