Using a by-product from cheese production, a natural fruit and vegetable wash can be created. This solution might be an organic alternative to chlorine.
The shelf-life of fruits and vegetables must be extended in order to meet consumer demands. The dairy industry produces a large amount of the by-product whey, which is considered a high-contaminant waste if not processed before disposal. Exploring the possibility of using whey is a solution to both issues.
Funded by the EU, the WHEYSAN project proposes a natural whey-based disinfection formula as a solution for sanitising whole and fresh-cut fruits and vegetables. One of the main objectives of WHEYSAN is to find a natural sanitising alternative to chlorine for fruits and vegetables. Another objective is to find a solution for a highly polluting by-product of the dairy industry, unprocessed whey.
Four different kinds of cheeses and the respective types of whey were analysed and underwent different potential processes. In total, 16 different combinations of whey types and treatments were obtained and brought to the analytical lab for a further physico-chemical and microbial analysis.
The eventual results of the project will include a whey-based raw material with sanitising properties and a whey-based commercial formula. Industrial protocols for whey processing, for sanitiser application on whole fruit and vegetables, and for sanitiser application on fresh-cut fruit and vegetables will be created.
A whey-based commercial formula is the project's main breakthrough, and while not yet identified, antimicrobial and proximate analyses have been performed. It was determined that the following three methods are required to determine antimicrobial activity: disk diffusion, agar dilution, and broth dilution. Of these three, disk diffusion and broth dilution were chosen for usage.
Protocols for whey processing with EU directives were identified regarding information related to customers, food safety, environmental issues and the commercialisation of biocide products. In terms of creating an industrial protocol for sanitiser application, issues such as the types of washers, factors influencing washing efficiency and the basics of fogging have been considered.
Most of these results are considered to be about 30 % completed and are quickly progressing. This project offers an important opportunity to transform a harmful waste product into a natural and environmentally friendly sanitisation alternative, thus achieving a profitable by-product.
Provided by Cordis