CPS – Funded Projects 2022 – Superheated Steam – Process Surface Decontamination


Practical application of superheated steam to harvesting, processing, and produce packing tools and equipment

Pathogens can contaminate environmental surfaces in produce handling operations. The industry uses sanitation programs to clean these surfaces and prevent product contamination. Highly effective sanitation procedures reduce the likelihood that pathogens will cross-contaminate products. In facilities that do not use water in their sanitation programs, tools like brushes and rags are used to clean. No-rinse sanitizers are sometimes used as well, but they cannot be used in organic operations. Superheated steam is a novel surface sanitizer that can kill pathogens on environmental surfaces. It is sometimes referred to as “dry steam” because it does not leave moisture or condensation on surfaces, making it a viable option for dry produce facilities. This project is designed to evaluate superheated steam use under industry relevant conditions. We will not only determine how well it works, but we will assess other key performance indicators including cost, range of appropriate applications, and the effect of extended use on equipment wear-and-tear and change to ambient relative humidity. This project will provide industry with the tools to comprehensively assess tradeoffs in superheated steam implementation. These resources will help improve the design of sanitation programs and enhance control over pathogen cross-contamination.

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