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BioSafe Systems gets key label for Ariz. leafy greensBioSafe Systems gets key label for Ariz. leafy greens

Permit enables treatment of agricultural irrigation water to control human health pathogens.

Todd Fitchette

November 21, 2023

3 Min Read
Leo Velasco, left, food safety director for Top Flavor Farms and Jay Sughroue, area manager, BioSafe Systems.
Leo Velasco, left, food safety director for Top Flavor Farms and Jay Sughroue, area manager, BioSafe Systems, collaborate on irrigation water treatment protocols in spinach at Top Flavor Farms near Yuma, Ariz.Todd Fitchette

Arizona leafy greens growers have another tool in their “toolbox” to enhance food safety.

Recently, the Arizona Department of Agriculture issued a Special Local Needs (SLN) permit for the treatment of agricultural irrigation water to control human health pathogens.

BioSafe Systems was granted the 24c SLN label for their product, SaniDate 12.0, in Arizona to treat against the bacteria Escherichia coli (or STEC), including O157:H7 as well as Salmonella enterica in preharvest agricultural water. This gives produce growers the only approved option to sanitize surface water for human health pathogens when irrigating.

SaniDate 12.0 can be used across Arizona for irrigation water treatment to reduce human health pathogens that have potentially contaminated their irrigation water. It has not yet been approved for use in California, according to Jay Sughroue, area manager, for BioSafe Systems. Sughroue anticipates approval in California in 2024.

SaniDate 12.0 isn’t new to the market, according to Sughroue. BioSafe started working in 2013 with various universities on scientific proof that what they had could effectively control generic E. coli and coliform bacteria which are indicator organism commonly used by the fresh produce industry to evaluate the acceptability of water sources for irrigation.

Sughroue explained that the Environmental Protection Agency and Food and Drug Administration hadn’t yet developed a protocol for manufactures to follow for registering their products to control human health pathogens in irrigation water so they could never make that claim on the EPA label until now.

Channah Rock, a water quality Extension specialist and associate professor with the University of Arizona, said growers of leafy greens in Arizona and California who are members of the Leafy Green Marketing Association (LGMA) are required to treat their surface irrigation water as part of revised metrics. These rules were developed after an outbreak of E. coli O157:H7 in 2018 that was linked to the desert growing region.

“We were happy to work alongside industry and chemical manufactures to evaluate the efficacy of SaniDate 12.0 to meet current regulatory requirements,” Rock said. “SaniDate 12.0 is currently the only water treatment chemistry with an approved label for pre-harvest use to reduce human health pathogens in water. This is a big deal.”

‘Doesn’t react with fertilizers’

Yuma farmer Steve Alameda, a partner in Top Flavor and Sabor Farms, said he switched from chlorine to SaniDate 12.0 a couple of years ago because “it doesn’t react with fertilizers, unlike chlorine” and this allows him to treat his irrigation water while he fertilizers his spinach and lettuce crops.

Active ingredients in SaniDate 12.0 are peroxyacetic acid and hydrogen peroxide. This new approved application on the SaniDate 12.0 in Arizona will help local growers meet the requirements of the FDA Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA) as well as the Arizona LGMA metrics.

Sughroue explained that BioSafe Systems will soon apply for a 24c SLN in Arizona for SaniDate WTO. SaniDate WTO is similar to SaniDate 12.0 but OMRI approved for use on organic crops. The 24c SLN will then allow growers of organic crops to treat their irrigation water for human health pathogens.

About the Author(s)

Todd Fitchette

Associate Editor, Western Farm Press

Todd Fitchette, associate editor with Western Farm Press, spent much of his journalism career covering agriculture in California and the western United States. Aside from reporting about issues related to farm production, environmental regulations and legislative matters, he has extensive experience covering the dairy industry, western water issues and politics. His journalistic experience includes local daily and weekly newspapers, where he was recognized early in his career as an award-winning news photographer.

Fitchette is US Army veteran and a graduate of California State University, Chico. 

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