Chiquita Brands International Inc. said Friday it is using a new wash on its bagged salads that it says better kills bacteria including E. coli and salmonella.
Bacteria outbreaks have plagued the bagged salad industry, including a nationwide E. Coli outbreak that sickened some 200 and was traced back to bagged spinach. Dozens of brands were involved in the recall. Fresh Express salads, which are made by Chiquita, have been recalled as recently as this May because of bacterial contamination.
Chiquita said it will longer use the industry standard wash of chlorine, which it said still leaves some bacteria on the leaves. Instead it will use a mixture that it calls FreshRinse. It has no chlorine and kills the bacteria both on the greens and in the wash water.
CEO Fernando Aguirre said the rinse dramatically improves food safety.
"Chlorine is the abacus, and FreshRinse is the iPad," he said at a news conference to announce the change.
Chiquita plans to share the rinse with its competitors. It will launch a campaign early next year to promote the rinse.
Chiquita, based in Cincinnati, says by the end of this year or early next year the majority of Fresh Express salads will be made with the new rinse.
The new rinse is made with peroxyacetic acid, an organic peroxide, and lactic acid, which is found in some milk products. Both substances are already approved by regulators for use with food, so no additional approval is needed.
The company is applying for a patent for FreshRinse.
It should add no more than a few pennies in cost per bag, Chiquita said.