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04.12.2023 - News article

Successful completion of the research project SPLASH

Development of an innovative process for washing and disinfecting cut lettuce with the HEWA washing machine

After its results were presented to visitors at this year’s KRONEN Customer Day, the SPLASH research project has now been officially brought to an end. The results from the test phase in which the newly developed HEWA washing machine and the plasma washing process were used are positive for all partners involved in the project and will now be processed and published following completion of the project.

The aim of the research project, which was funded by the German Federal Ministry of Food and Agriculture (BMEL), was to prevent the risk of packaged cut salads becoming contaminated with microorganisms. When combined with humidity inside plastic packaging, which cannot be avoided, the cell sap from fresh-cut lettuce offers favorable conditions for the growth of microorganisms.

The team behind the project aimed to prevent this by developing an innovative washing process for fresh-cut lettuce that uses non-thermal plasma technology to gently hygienize products. To achieve this, a washing machine was specially adapted to enable this disinfection process and subsequently tested in an industrial setting over a twelve-month period at the company Gartenfrisch Jung GmbH. The HEWA is an upgraded HELICAL washing machine with a hygienic design that has been optimized in terms of hygiene and a reduced cleaning time. The use of the machine with plasma-treated water (PTW) revealed extremely promising results; with the examination of the treated lettuce and wash water identifying a positive antimicrobial effect. 

The partners involved in the project, namely the Leibniz Institute for Agricultural Engineering and Bioeconomy (ATB Potsdam), the company Gartenfrisch Jung GmbH and the Leibniz Institute for Plasma Research and Technology (INP Greifswald) will continue to work together in the future – taking the next steps of adapting the solution to work on an industrial scale and clarifying the matter of its declaration of conformity.  The research project was funded by the German Federal Office for Agriculture and Food (BLE) within the framework of the Innovation Funding program of the German Federal Ministry of Food and Agriculture (BMEL).

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