In addition to sanitizing food contact surfaces, chlorine bleach solutions may be used for sanitizing raw fruits and vegetables during the washing or peeling process.
We occasionally hear of salmonella contamination of raw fruits and vegetables causing gastrointestinal illnesses. It’s not that hard to imagine how it could happen…
When buying fruits and vegetables at the grocery store, it is often unknown where the produce has specifically come from, under what sanitary (or lack thereof) conditions, who picked it, processed it, how was it handled, was it kept clean during distribution, how many people have picked up the produce and put it back down on the grocery store shelf, were their hands dirty…
Here’s one way to assure that your raw fruits and vegetables are sanitized:
Federal regulations permit the use of sodium hypochlorite (chlorine bleach) in washing produce (21 CFR Part 173).
The concentration of sanitizer in the wash water must not exceed 2000 ppm hypochlorite.
The produce must be rinsed with potable water following the chlorine treatment.
Having said that, most sanitizing operations, unless the produce is very dirty, will not need a sanitizer concentration greater than 200 ppm total chlorine to achieve the desired sanitizing effect – provided contact times of one minute or greater (typically sufficient to achieve a thorough kill).
How To Make A Chlorine Bleach & Water Solution To Sanitize Raw Fruits And Vegetables
2 teaspoons Regular Bleach (8.25% sodium hypochlorite)
1 Gallon of clean water
This will result in a 200 ppm (parts per million) chlorine solution.
Let fruit or vegetables stand in solution for at least one minute.
Then rinse with tap water or potable water.
Note: Use Regular bleach (no additives) with sodium hypochlorite as the active ingredient. Today’s Regular Clorox bleach is ‘concentrated’ at 8.25% sodium hypochlorite. If you are using Regular bleach of 5 – 6.25% sodium hypochlorite (read the label), then use 1 Tablespoon per gallon to achieve a 200 ppm sanitizing solution.
Note: For sanitizing non-food surfaces, make your own chlorine bleach & water solution.
Oklahoma Cooperative Extension Service
– Division of Agricultural Sciences and Natural Resources
U.S. Food and Drug Administration