Evaluation of cleaning treatments for almond-contact surfaces in hulling and shelling facilities

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After harvest, almond hulls and shells are separated from kernels in specialized huller-sheller(HS) facilities. This study evaluated various cleaning and sanitizing treatments on contact surfaces typically found in HS facilities. Dust (hull, shell, and soil particulates) was collected from an HS facility and applied to samples of new and worn conveyor belting and painted and unpainted galvanized steel.Dust-contaminated surfaces (100 cm') were swabbed before and after blowing with air for 30 s and/or wetting with water, an aqueous commercial cleaner, or isopropyl alcohol quaternary ammonium (IPAQUAT) sanitizer. Aerobic plate counts (APCs) and, in some cases, adenosine triphosphate (ATP) levels were determined. Combinations of air, commercial cleaner, and IPAQUAT significantly reduced APCs and ATP levels; however, the correlation between APCs and ATP levels was poor. The use of water or aqueous cleaners is not recommended for HS facilities unless complete dust removal canbe assured and there is adequate time for thorough drying of equipment (e.g., post- or pre-season). Air blowing reduced APCs by 10 fold (on worn and new belting) to 100 fold (on unpainted and painted steel). In the laboratory, applying an IPAQUAT sanitizer after air blowing reduced APCs by an additional 10 fold on belting or 100 fold on steel surfaces. However, when this same treatment was evaluated in a commercial HS facility, the APCs were not significantly reduced on any of the surfaces tested

Wen-Xian Du
M.D. Danyluk
L.J. Harris
Food Protection Trends