Grower’s guide to packinghouse preparation prior to peach season
July 22, 2020 By Lydia Balogh, Kathryn Carter, Peter VanWeerden and Amanda Green, OMAFRA
Tender fruit harvest has started, and as packing lines are getting prepared for the upcoming season, there are a variety of things that growers should consider when getting their packinghouses prepared for production.
Members from Ontario’s Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs (OMAFRA) team have compiled a resource about cold storage, preparing the packing line, monitoring and cleaning packing lines, and of course, COVID-19 concerns ahead of the province’s peach season.
Some highlights include:
- Cold storage units should be kept at temperatures around 0 C because higher temperatures (4 to 8 C) can reduce fruit quality.
- Prior to starting production, consider running a small amount of produce through the packing line to assess if peaches are getting damaged, and how to prevent bruising.
- Brushes, drains, floor brushes, bumpers and HVAC systems damaged walls and floors are vulnerable to the build up of pathogens such as Listeria spp. or E. coli which can be difficult to remove. Research has shown that aggressive cleaning of floors, bumpers, and damaged walls can reduce observations of presumptive positives for generic Listeria spp.
- Cleaning and maintaining bins and picking baskets can also help to reduce food safety risks.
- Follow government recommendations for COVID-19 protocols in the workplace. Food safety programs generally recommend thorough hand washing as well as wearing latex gloves.
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