Scientific testing confirms microbial reduction in reefers with new washout technology

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The Healthy Trailer machine in a reefer trailer — the technology for reefer washouts was developed by a company based in produce-heavy Salinas, Calif.The Healthy Trailer machine in a reefer trailer — the technology for reefer washouts was developed by a company based in produce-heavy Salinas, Calif.

Working with Lighthouse Food Quality and Safety, LLC, the Healthy Trailer company finished the first phase of a third-party verification of its patent-pending trailer cleaning process, developed by a team marshaled by produce broker Pam Young partly in response to the Food Safety and Modernization Act’s resulting Sanitary Transportation Rule. (The Healthy Trailer reefer cleaning machine was covered last year in Overdrive, accessible via this link.)

Trailer sanitation in the food transport sector is increasingly becoming a topic of food safety conversations as fresh produce suppliers and receivers begin to take a serious look at the supply chain, Healthy Trailer says, but also because consumers have expectations that their fresh produce is traveling in clean trailers.

The purpose of the company’s microbial evaluation in trailer sanitation was two-fold: to establish the levels of microbial population and, secondly, demonstrate that the Healthy Trailer process did effectively reduce the microbial load.

The results showed that both field trailers (equipment used to transport fresh field product from farm to processing plant) and over-the-road trailers (long-haul trailers loading fresh produce for deliveries to food service, retail and wholesale businesses) do contain varying levels of microbial population.

After collecting test samples from each of these trailer types before and after the cleaning process, data demonstrates that the Healthy Trailer process does reduce microbial levels with multiple spray bars, forced air drying, and germicidal UV lamps.

Of field and OTR trailers tested in this first phase, notes Young, microbial loads detected before cleaning were reduced with a Healthy Trailer washout by anywhere from 43% to 81%, the high mark met with an OTR trailer that had loaded mostly bin lettuce for food service processing.

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