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Eco-friendly ProduceShield extends shelf life, reduces pathogens

A new product rolled out in October has been shown to beat back spoilage organisms and extend shelf-life for fresh produce as well as offer a sustainable pathogen-fighting wash that outperforms chlorine or acid-based alternatives, according to developer CMS Technology.

The Danbury, CT-based firm developed ProduceShield after a team of scientists worked more than six years developing an environmentally friendly, FDA-certified as Generally Recognized as Safe product that can respond to the growing instances of foodborne outbreaks, Harley Langberg, operations director for CMS Technology, told The Produce News.

It relies on a positively charged, cationic carrier technology that remains stable in cold and hot temperatures and can be used in wide-ranging environments, said Langberg.

And unlike other washes, ProduceShield does not have to be rinsed after application, and companies tell CMS that they're looking for alternatives to chlorine and acid-based products because there's concern bacteria are becoming resistant to these technologies or can reappear after the product is rinsed off, according to Langberg.

Firms that have been using chlorine for more than 20 years are beginning to look for alternatives, especially as new federal food-safety regulations are coming down the pike from the U.S. Food & Drug Administration, said Langberg, adding that the product is an effective weapon against E. coli, Salmonella and Listeria.

"We've shown we're better than anything out there," said Langberg, pointing to the product's success in killing off spoilage bacteria and extending shelf life for commodities like leafy greens, butternut squash and strawberries.

The firm is focusing marketing efforts on three links in the food supply chain: supermarkets, universities and schools, and farm and processors.

Langberg said ProduceShield can be used on the farm as part of its post-harvest spray before product is sent to processors or supermarkets. In supermarkets, it can be applied to protect against spoilage and bacteria from the handling of produce. Some supermarkets just use water or a citrus wash.

The new product also has tremendous benefit in schools and universities.

"They want something that protects against spoilage and protects the children," Langberg said.

Georgia-based Kennesaw State University has successfully integrated ProduceShield into its food program that serves 7,000 meals a day. Known as a leader in food safety and sustainability efforts, the school was recognized last year by the National Restaurant Association with its Innovator of the Year Award.

The university found produce washed with ProduceShield lasts two to three weeks longer than if the fruits and vegetables were washed in water, which is a huge benefit for a school that manages its own farm, greenhouse and apple orchards.

"As food safety is at the forefront of our program, we appreciate not only the preservation qualities of your product but the eco-friendly component that ties in to our sustainability initiatives," Gary Coltek, senior director of Kennesaw's culinary and hospitality services, wrote in a testimonial about the product.

In the meantime, the company has contracted with a food-safety research institute to conduct further tests on its new technology, and it plans to ramp up marketing in the retail sector and extend the marketing reach to seafood, poultry and plastics.

For more information, log on to www.cmstechnology.com/produceshield.