Date of Graduation


Document Type


Degree Type



Davis College of Agriculture, Natural Resources and Design


Animal and Nutritional Sciences

Committee Chair

Cangliang, Shen

Committee Member

Kenney, P. Brett

Committee Member

Kristen, E. Matak

Committee Member

Jacek, Jaczynski


There is a growing concern regarding the microbial safety of farmers’ markets as fresh produce consumption in the United States is gaining popularity. The CDC reported 46% of foodborne illnesses are related to fresh produce. Consuming fresh produce raw removes a processing step, increasing the risk of cross-contamination, leading to illness. However, this risk can be mitigated by washing produce with antimicrobial solutions during post-harvest processes. To reduce the microbial load on fresh produce, the triple-wash process, where the produce is rinsed with water twice and lastly an antimicrobial solution (WWA). WWA is recommended by the WVU Extension Service Small Farm Center, but its efficacy has yet to be evaluated.

The objectives of this project were: 1.) to evaluate the two triple-wash procedures (WAW/WWA) with commercial antimicrobials to inactivate foodborne pathogens and surrogate bacteria on cucumbers, tomatoes, and spinaches; 2.) to evaluate the two triple-wash procedures with SaniDate-5.0 on microbial quality of butternut squashes; 3.) to determine the economic feasibility of the triple-wash application in a processing plant, and 4.) to assess how produce growers handle containers and evaluate the survival of Salmonella and Listeria monocytogenes on various commonly used produce container surfaces under refrigerated and room conditions.

Results showed Triple-wash by WWA with antimicrobials achieved additional reductions (P < 0.05) of pathogens by 0.38-0.56 log10 CFU/cucumber, 0.71 -1.48 log10 CFU/tomato, 0.35-1.07 log10 CFU/g spinach, and 0.7-2.0 log10 CFU/squash than the WAW procedure The estimated annual operating cost of the triple-wash process with SaniDate-5.0 ranges from $487.05 to $1,977.33 for growers producing 1,000-5,000 squashes. Pathogens decreased slower (P < 0.05) at 3.2oC on pressed-card and wood surfaces than at 22.5oC on a plastic surface. At 22.5oC, Salmonella and L. monocytogenes reduced (P< 0.05) to

Collectively, results indicate that WWA can achieve additional pathogen reduction, SaniDate-5.0 could be used as an alternative antimicrobial agent in the triple-wash process for small local produce growers. It showed the WWA method was an economically feasible approach for produce growers to improve microbial safety during postharvest processing of squash.