• produce;
  • bins;
  • tomato;
  • sanitization;
  • cleaning;
  • abrasion



Although surface characteristics of food contact materials are known to alter the efficacy of cleaning procedures there is a lack of data establishing how cleaning/sanitization practices affect the surface characteristics of materials used for produce handling on-farm. The overall objective of this work was to characterize the effects of cleaning and sanitization procedures on the surface properties of new and extended-wear polyethylene bins used for produce harvest and handling.


Compared to detergent cleaned samples, chlorine and quaternary ammonium sanitization resulted in a decrease in advancing contact angle from 100° to 88° and 59°, respectively, after 2 min exposure. However, changes in surface chemistry were not observed. Increasing sanitization time to 144 min (representative of 4320 sanitization cycles) resulted in an increase in contact angle to 73° for quaternary ammonium sanitization and a decrease in contact angle to 75° for chlorine sanitization. Abrasion increased contact angle hysteresis due to enhanced surface roughness. The hysteresis effect of abraded material was reduced with quaternary ammonium treatment.


This work indicates that sanitizing agents employed in on-farm cleaning can alter the surface characteristics of polyethylene picking bins and should be considered in developing cleaning and sanitization procedures. © 2013 Society of Chemical Industry