Assessment and speciation of chlorine demand in fresh-cut produce wash water

Shih Chi Weng, Yaguang Luo, Jie Li, Bin Zhou, Joseph G. Jacangelo, Kellogg J. Schwab

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

33 Scopus citations


For the fresh-cut produce industry, a critical area of concern is potential pathogen cross-contamination during wash operations when wash water is reused and re-circulated in wash systems continuously imputed with fresh-cut produce. However, little research has focused on the chemical properties of wash water. Organic input from residual soil and vegetable material deteriorates water quality and creates increasing chlorine demand within this wash water. This study evaluated the origins of chlorine demand input and chlorine decay kinetics of fresh-cut produce wash water. Using a model system, vegetable juice released per kg of processed produce for shredded romaine lettuce, shredded iceberg lettuce, shredded carrot and baby spinach was 82.1 mL/kg, 94.5 mL/kg, 158 mL/kg, and 2.26 mL/kg, respectively. Batch water analysis revealed a rapid reaction between constituents in the wash water and chlorine where over a 90 min observation period, 50% of chlorine demand occurred within first 5 min, underscoring the challenge for any water treatment process to reduce chlorine demand once vegetables are deposited into washing systems. Moreover, the results also showed sustained chlorine demand over 90-min periods, indicating an accumulative effect on chlorine consumption with continuous organic input. Additionally, HPLC-SEC analysis showed that the constituents contributing to chlorine demand are predominantly dissolved small molecules (<3400 Da), which will challenge water reuse treatment approaches. This study provides quantitative information of chlorine demand origins and chlorine decay kinetics in wash water and provides baseline data critical for integrating water reuse in the fresh produce processing industry.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)543-551
Number of pages9
JournalFood Control
StatePublished - Feb 1 2016


  • Chlorination
  • Chlorine demand
  • Fresh-cut produce
  • Wash water

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biotechnology
  • Food Science


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