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Treating produce wash water in the processing sector has been extensively studied. The FDA Guidance for Industry: Guide to Minimize Microbial Food Safety Hazards for Fresh Fruits and Vegetables (October, 1998) specifically addresses this issue. In Chapter 2, Section 2.2 it states, "...antimicrobial chemicals in processing water are useful in reducing microbial build-up in water and may reduce microbial load on the surface of produce. Thus, antimicrobial chemicals may provide some assurance in minimizing the potential for microbial contamination."

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Note: Spices can be heavily contaminated with microorganisms due to growth, harvesting and processing conditions. Pathogens of concern include , pathogenic , , and . Spices are generally treated with fumigants such as ethylene oxide, sterilized with steam, or irradiated to reduce the microbial load, including pathogens. Care is to be taken to avoid re-contaminating the spices after the antimicrobial treatment step. Spices on their own do not support microbial growth, but could be an ingredient in a food product that does.

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Using chemically treated water to wash and/or process fresh produce can impact public health by minimizing the risk of cross-contamination and reducing pathogens if they are present. The Food Code Annex 3, Public Health Reasons, supports this position in Section 3-302.15 Washing Fruits and Vegetables as follows:

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Pasteurization results in the sterilization of food products.

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