Fine bubbles "kill 90% more bugs" without residue

Washing fresh produce in water filled with fine bubbles is far more effective at removing bacteria than water alone, a chemical engineer has claimed.

Image: Jonas Bodenhöfer (CC BY-ND 2.0)
Image: Jonas Bodenhöfer (CC BY-ND 2.0)

An independent consultant with over 30 years' experience of food and hygiene, Dean Burfoot said: "Washing surfaces or produce using water with fine bubbles destroys 90% more microorganisms than using water alone. Creating bubbles in water can also disinfect the water itself as the agitation produces free radicals which act as cleaners."

Originally developed as a way of reducing water volumes used in cleaning, the addition of tiny bubbles has also been found to cause a natural scrubbing action.

"The technology has also been seen to improve plant growth and this is thought to be due to increasing the oxygen and nitrogen content of the water," Burfoot added.

Currently fresh produce is often irrigated and washed with biocides to kill off microorganisms such as E. coli before it is sold, but his can leave residues on produce. For this reason biocides are coming under scrutiny from the European Commission, which  proposed maximum residue levels for chlorate in November 2015.

As well as being effective, the fine bubble technology is also relatively cheap. Growers can purchase specially designed nozzles and combine them with existing kit to aerate their water supply.

AHDB Horticulture has now arranged for Burfoot to explain the process as part of a series of workshops on fresh produce and hygiene around the country.

Its research and knowledge exchange manager Grace Choto said: "The 'Keep it Clean' microbials workshops will provide growers with novel methods and guidelines to help ensure that produce is free from microbial contaminants."

The venues and dates are:

  • Dunfermline, Fife on 15 or 16 February;
  • Bolton, Lancashire on 21 February;
  • Claverdon, Warwickshire on 1 March;
  • Maidstone, Kent on 7 March;
  • Taunton, Devon on 21 March.

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