February 15, 2022

New Research Advocates for a Data-Based Collaborative Approach to Harvest Equipment Sanitation and Hygienic Design

On February 14, a white paper on harvest equipment sanitation titled “Periodic Deep Cleaning Study of Harvesting Equipment” was made publicly available that advocates for a data-based approach to Periodic Equipment Cleaning (PEC) and hygienic redesign of harvest equipment. The report was coordinated by the Leafy Greens Harvester Sanitation and Hygienic Design Working Group.

PEC includes a protocol to schedule the dissassembling, cleaning and sanitizing of hard-to-clean niche areas in food processing equipment. Currently, PEC activities are well-developed in food processing facilities, but they have not been applied to harvest equipment. The information and microbiological data collected during this study illustrates the need for a combination of PEC cleaning and hygienic design improvement to facilitate effective and efficient cleaning of harvesting equipment.

The study concluded that periodic teardown and deep cleaning at a predetermined frequency are necessary to address identified areas of concern and other niche locations. It acknowledged that although PEC is necessary, it’s quite a burden to execute, given field cleaning of the equipment and out of service time needed. Therefore, moving forward, the strategic solution is to elevate industry focus on hygienic design enhancements.

Additional dialogue, training and partnership is needed with harvesting and equipment manufacturing representatives regarding sanitation, maintenance requirements and improved design opportunities. Further testing and coordination with harvesting operations and manufacturers is planned to enhance hygienic design and sanitation processes.

This effort requires a collaborative approach from harvesters, processers, customers, original equipment manufacturers, trade groups and regulatory agencies to progress the initiative beyond its existing state, according to the report.

If you have any questions or comments, please reach out the Western Growers Science team at [email protected].