Clean Works, based in Beamsville, Ontario, has invented a process to clean fresh produce without using water. Using ultraviolet light and vaporised hydrogen peroxide, the company claims the 30 second process kills 99% of dangerous pathogens. The company also says it increases the shelf life of produce by up to 25.
The process is called Clean Verification and was validated by the Food Science Department at the University of Guelph, a leading agri-food institution.
Clean Works is a joint venture between Paul Moyer, a fruit farmer from the Niagara Region who runs Moyers Apple Products, and Court Holdings Limited, a long-time family business involved in manufacturing, technology and steel service.
Moyers Apple Products was awarded the 2017 Premier's Award for Agri-Food Innovation Excellence from the Government of Ontario. The company also won an Ontario Centre of Excellence award. Moyer said a 2014 listeria outbreak in caramel apple business prompted him to start thinking more about food safety.
"Although we weren't directly affected, it certainly hurt our sales and we knew we needed to find a solution," Moyer said. "I really like bringing good food and safe food to the customer."
"Water is the traditional way of cleaning produce and it's not a particularly good way of cleaning produce.” He said liquid, despite what it is treated with or the chemicals it contains, acts like a vector. "It's very similar to taking a bath after 10 other people have taken a bath. Our process is a whole new way of thinking about cleaning produce. It's simple, it's effective and it does not use water."
The process works to sterilise bins and containers as well, not just fruit. Mr Moyer said the company was finding other flow-on benefits. The company has installations in Ontario, as well as Sunkist growers and grape producers in California.
"We are getting twice the shelf-life as the industry standard," he said. "I really believe that this is going to be a game changer. No matter if you are a developed country or a developing country, food safety is a worldwide problem and we have a worldwide solution.”