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SmartWash Solutions aims to continue boosting fresh produce safety

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Once the dust has settled following the COVID-19 pandemic, there is likely – many in the produce industry believe – to be an increased awareness of the importance of safety in the food production process, including during the washing and preparing of vegetables. Here, innovative treatments from JBT alliance partner, SmartWash Solutions could be poised to play a key role.

Originally launched in the US in 2009, SmartWash Solutions’ patented SmartWash delivers Pinpoint Process Control™ to food processing wash-water systems, mitigating cross contamination while improving food safety. The system has proven so effective in curbing cross contamination that it is now used by over 50% of the US fresh-cut produce industry, leading to expansion to Europe with the opening of SmartWash Solutions BV in the Netherlands.

Wash-lines are used by all produce processors across Europe to clean vegetables and salad products, according to Ewoud Buter, General Manager of SmartWash Solutions BV; a manual process, which typically involves hand contact. Not only raising potential contamination questions, the process is also highly labor-intensive, typically involving hourly QA testing of pH and Total Chlorine levels in the wash-water. 

The SmartWash acidulent – in combination with the SmartWash controller, known as the ASAP – will continually monitor and control the water chemistry, taking data every 10 milliseconds and saving it every two seconds. As well as improving food quality and safety, Buter says the system will also reduce labor usage over an eight-hour period by 87.5% on average. “With the SmartWash method, you only need to have a manual check once per shift, that’s to say once every eight hours, so you reduce QA hours by almost 90%,” he says.

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Controlling chemistry
Offered under a leasing program, SmartWash ASAP unit installation, maintenance and repairs – when required – are carried out by SmartWash technicians, although the company also provides in-depth training for new customers, covering operation and basic maintenance, including parts replacement. 

However, the potential of SmartWash’s scope to effectively control the chemistry of wash-water could yet be broadened further. The company has significant relationships with scientists in Belgium, the Netherlands and Spain. One of these scientific partners is currently researching the effect of chlorinated disinfectant on viruses. “SmartWash is already massively effective against (Gram negative) bacteria, so we believe it will likely have a positive impact on viruses present on vegetables, including potentially COVID-19,” says Buter. “We are really looking forward to the results of the study.”

Learn more about SmartWash Solutions

To learn more about other ways JBT can help you in the COVID-19 environment please visit www.jbtc.com

SafeTraces saniDART receives AOAC approval

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JBT ally SafeTraces has announced that it has received regulatory approval from the US-based AOAC Research Institute (AOAC-RI) for its groundbreaking rapid sanitation verification solution, saniDART™. In doing so, saniDART has become the first rapid solution for verifying sanitation effectiveness at a microbial level to receive AOAC certification.

SaniDART addresses major shortcomings of two commonly used methods for verifying sanitation effectiveness in food production: the Adenosine Triphosphate (ATP) test and the Aerobic Plate Count (APC) test. The ATP test measures the effectiveness of the sanitation processes in removing organic matter but is not a reliable indicator of bacterial inactivation. Meanwhile, the APC test is a reliable indicator for bacterial inactivation, however the 48-hour wait period for results precludes making in-process corrective actions. In contrast, saniDART functions as a powerful tool for monitoring bacterial inactivation with APC-like test quality and results available at a speed closer to that of ATP tests.

“Now more than ever, consumers and regulators are demanding high standards and visibility into food safety practices throughout the supply chain,” says Erik Malmstrom, SafeTraces Chief Executive Officer. “There is a significant unmet need in the food industry for a better, faster, and cheaper solution for sanitation verification at a microbial level. SafeTraces responded and innovated, which is what we do best. Receiving AOAC validation, the gold standard for proprietary testing methods in food safety, is a major milestone for saniDART. We look forward to delivering this groundbreaking solution to the food industry in a big way.”

Verified effectiveness
Results in the AOAC validation report (Performance Tested Method #032001) provided evidence that saniDART is effective at detecting the presence of saniTracers™, proprietary abiotic bacterial surrogates and a key component of saniDART, on stainless steel surfaces representative in food processing and manufacturing facilities. SaniTracers are manufactured by encapsulating short, non-coding DNA sequences within food-grade material particles and are applied on food contact surfaces in processing facilities, including Zone 1.

SaniTracers are degraded and removed in a similar manner as microbes during cleaning and chlorine-based sanitizing, and can be quantified by a simple swabbing and on-site qPCR test that provides results in 25 minutes. By measuring saniTracers levels before and after sanitation, saniDART provides powerful, actionable information in a pass/caution/fail format for verifying sanitation effectiveness.

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The saniDART rapid sanitation verification solution includes saniTracers consumables, test kits, an off-the shelf qPCR reader, and a tablet with a cutting-edge augmented reality (AR) feature to identify sampling points in food processing facilities. saniDART is supported by market-leading environmental monitoring software to manage floor plans, scheduling, corrective actions, reporting, and analytics.

About AOAC International
AOAC International (formerly the Association of Analytical Chemists) is an independent, third-party, not-for-profit organization that develops standards on measuring and determining the safety and integrity of food and other products worldwide. An AOAC-Research Institute (AOAC-RI) validation means that the manufacturer’s claims have been verified by a trusted third-party laboratory.

About SafeTraces
Founded in 2013, SafeTraces is a mission-driven team of entrepreneurs, scientists, engineers, and food safety practitioners dedicated to using nature’s DNA to make food production safer, more transparent, and more sustainable. SafeTraces’ rapid, easy-to-use, and cost-effective testing solutions for sanitation verification and traceability build on groundbreaking and patented DNA-based technology.

Learn more about SafeTraces

SmartWash Solutions go beyond improving food safety

In August 2019, JBT and SmartWash Solutions announced a Europe-wide alliance to bring the US-based company’s innovative combination of science, technology and engineering to fresh-cut produce processors accords the continent. Here, Ewoud Buter, General Manager of SmartWash Solutions BV, details how the technology is helping customers make cost savings and improve food safety.

Over the past few years, SmartWash Solutions BV has been active in the European market and conducted multiple successful trials yielding impressive results for large suppliers in the Fresh Cut market. In order to prove the success of their products, SmartWash Solutions offers a free trial in cooperation with the processor, with both sides working to establish common goals and benchmarks. 

During this trial, SmartWash Solutions provides the equipment to enhance the food safety systems while also providing a thorough evaluation of the process, often finding additional cost savings and operational improvements. In this article, the benefits and value of the many SmartWash solutions will be revealed as more than just a food safety improvement. 

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Cost Savings
The most immediate need for processors is to move away from manual or semi manual control and monitoring of their processes and food safety. Not only is automating a huge factor in improving food safety but it can also reduce costs. 

Technology is often an underutilized cost saving tool in the food production industry but transitioning staff away from checking samples by hand can improve data integrity and reduce materials needed for the check samples. Historically, many facilities would employ at least one person to constantly monitor wash lines for critical control points, generating one to two data points per hour per wash line. With real time, automated control and monitoring it is possible to obtain at least 1800 data points per hour, all extremely accurate due to an automatic calibration procedure. This translates to lower labor costs and impactful savings with improved process control and additional feedback on the production runs. 

Another common issue is related to managing wash water at all stages of wash systems. In the past, controllers could not handle the organic load at primary washes, where products would shed the organic material from the fields or oftentimes be the first wash stage after cutting. Now, due to innovations built into the SmartWash controller, also known as the ASAP, these hurdles can be overcome and all points of potential water-born cross contamination can be treated even under the most challenging conditions. Processors that previously only treated the secondary wash are now continuously treating the primary wash as well. This is a huge step in mitigating cross contamination and preventing the perfect storm. 

Often during trials, SmartWash discovers opportunities for operational improvements that may yield substantial savings. For example, one processor in the US reduced their operational down time by implementing the SmartWash Solutions ASAP Controllers. By reducing the water dumps necessary throughout the day, the processor could complete their production schedule over less time and reduce overall usage of water. A different processor was able to cut up to 15% of the facility’s water usage. These benefits can add up to quickly pay for the cost of the SmartWash program. 

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Universally compatible
Since the ASAP unit is a ‘stand-alone’ unit which can be wheeled in and connected to any wash line, the benefits of the system can be applied to many different processes. Although wash lines may be sourced from different manufacturers, this does not prevent or limit the opportunities to find value as SmartWash technicians take time to evaluate the line during a pre-installation visit and ensure the solutions fit the process.

Most of the time we find wash lines are ready to go and, in some occasions, only need small changes such as an injection point or pump adjustments. Some wash lines are much more turnkey, such as the FTNON manufactured lines, as they can add the necessary components into their build process. We find that this translates to one of the highest performing wash lines in the industry. But all wash lines can have the SmartWash method implemented, with all the associated food safety and operational benefits that it has for the processor.

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Quickly adopted
As we all know, buy-in at the floor level is key to making any new technology work. Typically, wash operators are a challenging group to convince as change can often mean new stresses in an already stressful environment. SmartWash Solutions has found the technology is quickly adopted and embraced by floor personnel as it makes their work environment more enjoyable. They no longer handle chemicals and often the air and environment are improved in the facility.

Management is typically very sensitive to the opinions of their floor technicians and they sometimes cannot believe the buy-in. The ease of use makes a big difference in the day-to-day activities of floor employees and the increased accessibility to the data allows the management staff to monitor the improvements. It is a win-win for all involved and this translates to a better working environment. Technology can be a tricky thing in this environment, but our goal is to make everything easier for the staff while ensuring a safe product is produced 100% of the time, as we can’t afford to fail the consumers.

Drew McDonald, vice president of food safety at Taylor Farms, commented:  “SmartWash has enabled us to fill gaps in the process with their automation of data collection and robust, continuous control. While food safety was the main factor in the SmartWash program adoption, we have reaped many other benefits such as cutting water usage, increasing production efficiencies and gaining valuable insight into the performance of more than 100 of our wash systems across the Taylor Farms supply chain.”

Request information about organizing a free SmartWash trial in your plant!

JBT and TORR Industries confirm global alliance for filling technologies

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JBT and California-based TORR Industries Inc. have announced an alliance aimed at bringing TORR’s versatile fillers to companies handling everything from wines and juices to coffee concentrates all across the globe.

The non-exclusive Sales Representation Agreement will give JBT the opportunity to represent TORR’s low and high-acid aseptic and sanitary liquid filling systems for bags, pouches, and bulk-containers with fill fitments globally. The alliance covers applications for products within the liquid foods, fruit and vegetable, dairy, wine, tomato sauce, and ready-to-eat sauce categories. 

Based in Shasta County, Northern California, TORR is the leader in high output wine bag fillers in the US market, but with an international presence that includes installations for coconut milk in Malaysia and crushed pineapple in the Philippines.

TORR filling systems will allow JBT to offer filling systems that can be used with Bag-in-Box (size ranging between 2 and 25 liters), stand-up pouches (size ranging between 0.175 to 5 liters) and bulk containers (size ranging from 200 to 1400 liters) with a wide range of filling speeds. TORR filling systems will complement JBT’s sanitary fillers for HPP products and will also fill the gap between JBT’s retail and bulk filling offerings.

Increased shelf life
A recent major success for TORR has been the supply of Bag-in-Box fillers to Delicato Family Wines in Manteca, California. for their “Bota Box” three-liter Bag-in-Box package. TORR installed seven TORR 150 fillers at the new Manteca 770,000 sq. ft winery and distribution center in the first quarter of 2019. Delicato placed additional orders in August for two more fillers for the new 1.5-liter Bag-in-Box line. 

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“Delicato chose TORR over international competition because of TORR’s patent pending filling heads that provide increased shelf life because of low oxygen pickup during filling,” said TORR Sales Director, Chris Rutter. “The servo powered fillers also provide high uptime and low maintenance cost.”

TORR fillers, which include automatic bag into box loading at up to 25 bags per minute, are used for dairy, coffee concentrates and fruit juices. TORR also offers the Engi-O range of FDA LONO-approved aseptic bag fillers for up to 1500-liter bins, 200-liter drum and 20-liter bags for foodservice. The company is currently installing four Engi-O AM5 low acid aseptic fillers that fill bins, drums and foodservice bags at a major producer in the US Pacific North West for fruit and vegetable purees. International installations of the TORR Engi-O low acid aseptic fillers include coconut milk in Malaysia, crushed pineapple in the Philippines and dairy products in New Zealand. 

Learn more about TORR’s range of solutions

JBT and SmartWash alliance to take fresh-cut food safety technology into Europe

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JBT and food safety technology specialist SmartWash Solutions™ have announced the start of a new European alliance between the two companies, which has been developed to bring an innovative combination of science, technology and engineering to fresh-cut produce processors within Europe.

Originally launched in the US in 2009, SmartWash Solutions’ patented SmartWash delivers Pinpoint Process Control™ to food processing wash water systems, mitigating cross contamination while improving food safety. The system has proven so effective in curbing cross contamination that it is now used by over 50% of the US fresh-cut produce industry, leading to expansion to Europe with the opening of SmartWash Solutions BV in the Netherlands.

Ewoud Buter, General Manager of SmartWash Solutions BV, said that with the announcement of the alliance, the company anticipates further expansion with the leveraging of JBT resources in Europe and beyond, which will enable it to significantly scale-up its activities. He said: “Through our alliance with JBT, we will be able to make many more people in the industry aware of the benefits of SmartWash by leveraging the resources of JBT worldwide.”

Carlos Fernandez, JBT’s Executive Vice President and President, Liquid Foods, said: “Food safety is a mega-trend that will transform the marketplace over the next generation. We’re thrilled to partner with SmartWash Solutions and offer this breakthrough to our customers.”

Alleviate challenges
Buter explained that the solution is designed to increase and maximize the effectiveness of the most powerful anti-microbial weapon in existence – chlorine – by combining chlorine-based washes with patented SmartWash chemistry. 

“The components of our patented SmartWash solution help to alleviate the challenges associated with fresh-cut produce, comprising a high level of pathogen control that allows us to mitigate the risk of cross contamination and in the process reduce the probability of outbreaks occurring,” he said. “The wash water used in fresh-cut processing can get extremely dirty, due to soils and other contaminants entering the system.”

SmartWash Solutions’ process control systems provide high process control while also withstanding the challenges of working in a wet and cold environment, common in fresh-cut processing. Additionally, SmartWash Solutions has helped customers realize cost savings in labor, productivity and utilities by improving the efficiency of wash systems and increasing the process control to levels previously impossible in the industry. 

So successful has the technology been that SmartWash systems now treat an estimated five billion pounds worth of fresh-cut produce in the US every year, as well as significant volumes in Canada, Australia, China and Spain. 

Learn more about SmartWash Solutions

IceGen: A revolutionary breakthrough for liquid foods

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JBT ally IceGen is a specialist in Liquid Ice generation, an innovative technology which provides a wide variety of applications to extend shelf life and aid in product transportation. Through IceGen’s alliance with JBT, the system is now being made available to a far wider customer base across the global liquid foods sector and is poised to bring tangible advantages to juice and liquid food producers and exporters.

IceGen’s scraped surface, heat exchangers create Liquid Ice that is used to increase quality, speed up processes and significantly increase savings within the juice industry.  The Liquid Ice is an energy efficient, cost effective system that delivers results that far outweigh those of traditional systems. 

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Cost savings
Using considerably less energy than conventional systems, the technology has significant cost saving advantages for juice or vegetable producing companies. When filling tankers with an IceGen, juice can be shipped for several weeks without the need of refrigerated trucks. Juice is cooled inline and drums are frozen in a fraction of the time.

According to Motti Einhorn, president of IceGen Corp, the moment a product enters the IceGen, the water particles within the product are instantly frozen creating millions of tiny ice crystals that act as heat exchangers. The cooling power of these millions of crystals is huge.

 “You can keep food and juice cool for a month without any refrigeration by using Liquid Ice,” Einhorn explains. “The crystals within the juice or product use their latent cooling power to maintain the cool temperature without the need for additional cooling. We are able to load a tanker at 30ºF and 30 days later receive it at the same temperature.”

The Juice plants using an IceGen save money by removing the need for refrigerated transport and by freezing drums in a fraction of the time. 

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IceGen supplied machinery to convert Liquid Ice into snow for the 2014 Sochi Winter Olympics

Homogenous freezing
Liquid Ice is pumpable like any other liquid, yet it has more cooling power than solid ice. When freezing a drum with Liquid Ice, the juice or liquid will freeze homogenously, without any separation of water and sugar particles as is seen in traditional freezing. This preserves the taste, aroma, color and overall quality of the product. When a drum, frozen with Liquid Ice, is removed from the freezer it defrosts homogenously too and it tastes as fresh as did when it was frozen. The ‘pineapple effect’ is avoided and there are no interior pockets of warm juice when freezing.  

 “It works much better than a blast freezer because it’s much softer on the product and much faster,” says Einhorn. “The product comes into the machine and goes out with every part of the product at the freeze point. It is as effective on greens and vegetables and purees as it is on juice. We are even using it now on chunks of fruit and vegetables with the same success. Customers have also complained about a ‘frozen taste’ with products that go through a blast freezer – with Liquid Ice you never have that problem.

“Customers have told us: ‘When buying from other growers inevitably we end up purchasing products that have come through an IceGen because the product quality is so superior'”.

IceGen’s worldwide footprint is truly global with almost 100 machines in every continent.  With more people becoming aware of the many advantages of the IceGen, that number is growing daily.

Request more information about IceGen’s solutions

JBT & Aurratech: bringing fog sterilization & sanitization to the globe

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JBT’s alliances are all about bringing complementary solutions and technologies to its global customer base, which is why innovative sanitization specialist Aurratech looks certain to be a perfect fit over the coming years. Aurratech is the company behind Fog-in-Place™, a pioneering sterilization and sanitization system that guarantees 100% surface contact plus airborne disinfection with a fraction of the water and chemicals typically consumed by traditional technologies.

Fog-in-Place (FIP) can be used by food, beverage, produce, and protein processors to sterilize or sanitize equipment, piping, tanks and entire processing areas by turning biocide solution to fog in form of billions of micro-particles.

According to company founder Caio Agmont, FIP produces low weight particles that achieve 100% surface contact by remaining suspended in the air for long periods of time through which it can reach all areas of a facility that need to be sanitized, including around odd shapes.

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FIP also reduces more than 99% of the water, waste and sanitizing solution typically associated with traditional liquid based Sanitize-In-Place (SIP) procedures, making major savings in time, energy, solution and water, with negligible environmental impact. The system can be used effectively by both food (fruits, vegetables, nuts and dairy) and beverage (wine, beer, juice, non-alcoholic and general beverages) processors, while it also has applications in the meat, fish and bakery sectors, among others.

International interest
Agmont says FIP has received a positive response from companies worldwide, including from leading wine producers in South Africa and fruit packers in Spain. “FIP is a great alternative to Clean-In-Place (CIP) programs and can save 99% of the water and chemicals used by CIP,” he says. “We have been working with a major wine company in Cape Town, South Africa where they have a huge problem with drought. Saving water is very important for them as they clean and disinfect several tanks and lines per day. FIP can save a huge amount of water and eliminate the need for waste treatment.”

With FIP now approved as meeting USDA Organic Standards 205.272 and 205.605 in the US, the technology is also seen as having great potential to replace chlorine dioxide gas sterilization processes for organic products.

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Aurratech is helping wine producers in South Africa save water

Airborne disinfection
There are also significant benefits, continues Agmont, in using FIP as an alternative to steam sterilization. “In Spain, we are using FIP with several companies for aseptic tanks,” he says. “Normally these companies use steam for the sterilization process. With FIP we can save steam (which is expensive), energy on air conditioning for cold rooms (FIP does not increase the room temperature), nitrogen (a huge amount is used to cool tanks during steam sterilization), water and we eliminate the risk of tank collapse.”

FIP is also being used by Aurratech customers for airborne disinfection, sterilizing ambient bottling plants which do not have aseptic fillers. “If the fillers are not aseptic, companies need to achieve a better air quality control to avoid any kind of contamination,” says Agmont. “Using FIP, we can deliver airborne disinfection by creating ‘aseptic’ ambient conditions.”

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New applications
Proving that the technology has huge scope for possible uses, Agmont says FIP has also been employed by nursery greenhouses for fertilizer and fungicide application with great results, while it has proven effective in combating botrytis in rose production facilities in South Africa.

Significantly, Aurratech is also planning research and investigation in Spain examining how FIP can be used to treat fruits during the postharvest stage to reduce decay. 

“The challenge here is to find the right chemical that doesn’t leave any residue on the fruit,” says Agmont. “Especially in Europe, there is a move towards residue free fruit, so companies must be much more aware about cold room and bin disinfection to eliminate any cross contamination or ambient contamination during storage. 

“We believe FIP can bring about new options to this field in terms of ambient disinfection.”

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Aurratech is researching post harvest applications for fruits

Tremendous progress
Sam Mudgal, JBT’s Alliance Coordinator for Liquid Foods, describes JBT’s role as increasing Aurratech’s reach and profile as its exclusive Global Sales Representative, assisting the company with sales, marketing and opening new doors. “We have a well-defined scope for Aurratech in terms of applications and territories, and it has already made tremendous progress in Spain and South Africa,” he says.

Mudgal says Aurratech alliance-sourced global sales have grown seven-fold since beginning its collaboration with JBT, and he predicts the current figure will double before the close of 2019. In fact, to manage its expansion, Aurratech now offices in Brazil, the US, Spain and South Africa, while a fifth is in the pipeline for Chile. 

However, yet more ambitious expansion is on the table for the next 12 months. Following completion of a Fog-In-Place demonstration unit and the signing of a non-binding Memorandum of Understanding, Aurratech is readying a move into the lucrative North American market. “Our goal over the next six months is to turn that non-binding agreement into a permanent one and start manufacturing in North America,” adds Mudgal. 

LEARN MORE about Aurratech’s Fog-In-Place

JBT alliance strategy delivers ‘win, win’ for customers and collaborators

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Alliances have formed a key part of JBT’s expansion strategy over the past six years, helping bring major innovators such as Laser Food, Ice Gen and Aurratech to the JBT portfolio and providing these companies, in turn, with access to sales, service, manufacturing and sourcing operations that span 25 countries. 

Under the leadership of Carlos Fernandez, JBT Liquid Foods has pursued a strategy of expansion through acquisitions, but also – equally importantly – through strategic alliances with well placed, global innovators.

“We have had a clear growth strategy under Carlos as JBT Liquid Foods President, whether through new product development, acquisitions or by working with companies that either have solutions that complement our existing core technologies, can help us get into a new area, or explore the edges,” explains Sam Mudgal, JBT’s Alliance Coordinator for Liquid Foods. 

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The ‘Fog-In-Place’ system from JBT and Aurratech

Alliances, he says, provide JBT with a faster means of entering new markets than new product development. “We do both renovation of our existing product line and innovation, and that requires a significant investment of finances, resources and time,” continues Mudgal. “Alliances are a really quick way of bringing new technologies to our customers in a shorter space of time.”

Profitable relationships
Such arrangements, he says, have a clear strategic objective of supporting JBT’s aim of market expansion by providing valuable exposure to new markets and customers, while helping expose JBT customers to the latest market trends. Alliances, explains Mudgal, enable JBT to become a major distributor – generating potential financial rewards in the process – of a cutting-edge technology, and at the same time allowing the allied company to benefit from worldwide sales network, marketing potential and, when applicable, manufacturing capabilities.

“It’s a win, win, win,” says Mudgal. “A win for JBT, a win for participating companies and a win for our customers.” Of course, such arrangements are not purely altruistic, but rather have a very solid financial justification. According to JBT data, alliance-sourced commissions increased by 60% year-on-year in 2018, proving they are not just viable arrangements, but profitable ones too.

Mudgal says JBT alliances can take many different, multi-faceted forms, from co-manufacturing, joint product development to a joint sales strategy. “An alliance relationship can provide an easy, quick, less risky, and adaptable access to a technological solution or a product offering,” he adds.