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R427 Packhouse Diagnostics of Vegetables (LINK)

Publication Date: 
23 August 2011
Author/Contact :
John Elphinstone

Contractor :

Full Research Project Title:
Duration: October 2009 - September 2011

Aim: To assess the potential to use diagnostics to improve quality control and provide better decision support during washing and packing operations.

Industry Challenge

In reaching current supermarket quality requirements, a significant proportion of potato production is rejected during commercial washing and packing operations. The AHDB Potatoes estimates that there are annual losses of 10-20% of potato production due to waste.  Losses have increased in recent years due to wetter growing seasons which has increased inoculum loading of fungal and bacterial pathogens on harvested crops. In the potato industry, the need is to detect and quantify the soft rotting bacteria (Pectobacteria) both on tubers and in washing water. The vegetable packing industry currently lacks the means to identify high risk crops on arrival and to accurately determine and control the effect of washing and packing procedures on shelf-life of the packed product before and after dispatch to the retailer and then to the consumer.


Albert Bartlett, the British Carrot Growers Association (BCGA), Forsite Diagnostics Ltd, Horticulture Development Company, QV Foods, Smiths Detection – Diagnostics


The objectives of this 1 year feasibility study were to significantly reduce the wastage of carrots, parsnips and potatoes. This was achieved by assessing the potential of diagnostics to improve quality control and provide better decision support during washing and packing operations, and to maximise shelf-life during retailing and home storage. 2 types of diagnostic (Antibody and DNA) were tested to see which was most suitable for different stages of intake, washing and packing.

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