When it comes to food safety, indoor growers face many of the same challenges as traditional farmers, as well as some that are unique to the controlled environment. From fundamentals to critical steps you might not have considered, Dr. Andy Moreno will call upon his extensive industry background and proven expertise to provide important tips and insights during his Indoor Ag-Con Las Vegas 2019 presentation, “How To Improve Food Safety” on Wednesday, May 22, 2019 from 10-10:30 am.
Dr. Moreno is the Genetic Detection Systems Engineer for HSG-AME Certified Laboratories. He has installed, trained on, certified, and supported qRT-PCR technologies and systems for food and human applications. He also designs microbiological test design schemes, implementation programs, and food safety validation for food production and food quality organizations. We checked in with Dr. Moreno to get a sneak preview of some of the information he’d be sharing during his Indoor Ag-Con presentation.
Q: From a food safety perspective, what are the pitfalls that indoor growers are not considering?
A: Probably the most important element is the cleanliness of the water. Oftentimes, those working in hydroponics don’t consider some of the factors that can impact water. The assumption is that you’re adding nutrients to the water so it is safe. But there are elements that can change or impact quality like, for instance, when light hits water.
Cleanliness is key from start to finish. Starting with seeds, you need a soaking cycle because seeds themselves are not sanitized. For leafy greens, a triple wash is vitally important.
The first wash is to knock off dust and debris, a step some think isn’t necessary indoors. But, you need to do this in a closed, soil-less environment because there are factors like yeast and mold to consider.
Second, you need a sanitizer bath to kill resident bacteria as well as yeast and mold.
And lastly, you need to wash the greens again with potable water.
For indoor grows, we’re not focusing enough on commercial food safety. Our population’s immune system is weak and we need to protect it. When we think about organic food, more and more consumers are buying it because they want to eat healthier, especially those who may have illnesses or other health concerns. What’s more, many senior citizens are also under some kind of pharma regime that inevitably impacts the immune system. In addition, parents who are focusing on their kids’ diets are the same ones who, perhaps, inadvertently overprotect them from a broad spectrum of organisms we used to be exposed to like dirt, dogs, cats and other elements — through overuse of hand- sanitizers and more time spent indoors. So the resistance is lower or compromised, making many of these individuals more susceptible. So we have to protect them with a kill step of some kind.
Learn more about this critically important topic during Andy’s session!