With the growing concern that food contamination is on the rise, food safety has never been more critical. Fresh produce is a particularly high-risk commodity, a fact that lead the pioneering Clean Works company to develop a revolutionary process to clean fresh fruit and vegetables more effectively.
An interesting aspect of the cleaning method – called Clean Verification – is that it is completely waterless.
Clean Verification is a decontamination treatment and alternative to traditional post-harvest washing.
Traditional methods of cleaning produce using chlorine washes, only offer a 50% contaminant reduction. However, the company says this technology is up to 99.99% effective at killing harmful pathogens and mold.
In many cases, this is could be the measure that prevents someone from suffering from E. coli, Salmonella, Listeria, or human parasites.
Plus, “it has the benefits of treating certain fruits and vegetables that cannot be washed with water – strawberries for one.
Benefits extend to all major players in the agri-food industry – growers, packers and processors, wholesalers, and retailers.
The treatment also increases fruits’ shelf life by up to 25%.
Additionally, customers can apply it to a wide range of crops more safely and effectively.
Clean Verification’s use along the supply chain
Two major players leading the way with this advance are Sunkist and Mission Produce.
The Clean Works technology is infiltrating the market beyond these big names, though.
Grapes, citrus, and apples have been the first innovators using our products. More recently great results with leafy greens, and romaine lettuce.
Plus, Clean Verification’s developers have adapted the technology for easy use along each point of the supply chain.
Clean Works is able to treat the product as it comes in from the farmer’s fields through our Batch machine, which is a large chamber that we treat the product with in the initial stages.
Then Clean Works have a certain sized unit that we can go in with the packers, people using the post-harvest treatment; plus, as well having a scale machine that can be implemented in kitchens or restaurants or even grocery stores for the fresh-cut fruit.
With so many advantages of Clean Verification, the global industry is taking note.
Clean Works is seeing a lot [of interest] at the farmer level and from the producers or the packers as well. Installations ranging from Southern Ontario, where Clean Works is located, California and Australia.
Interest is coming out of China, Southeast Asia, and Nepal. Africa is actually an emerging market for us as well. A lot of inquiries are also coming in from the avocado industry and a lot of that is coming out of Chile and South America.
The company is also gaining a lot of interest from Europe, due to the very high standards for pesticide residues on their products.
As a side benefit of this technology, there has been a reduction of pesticide residue by 25-50%; this is an especially attractive capability for industry players who otherwise wouldn’t be able to ship to the continent.
Clean Works has certain products that are grown in North America that are unable to ship to Europe because of their higher pesticide residue levels. So we have that advantage of being able to reduce that going into Europe.
As far as what this worldwide expansion looks like in the short and long term, short-term is North and South America and then spreading out from there.
Clean Works hopes within a year and a half to two years, they will be covering Australia, New Zealand, and expanding east from there into Europe and the Far East.
For now, Clean Verification’s most prominent market is in California.
There’s a lot of large scale farms [in the state] and they seem to be the early adopters tied in with Sunkist – the citrus side of things have been very positive for Clean Works. I think [California] will be the leader for a while.
Awards and Recognition
A number of associations have applauded the company for its trailblazing efforts.
In August, it will receive the International Association of Food Production Award for Innovation.
Previously, it won Premier’s Award for Agri-Food Innovation Excellence.