The Safe and Proper Use of Disinfectants and Sanitizers on Mushroom Farms
David M. Beyer, Department of Plant Pathology, Penn State
Joe Poppiti, Mushroom Central
Disinfectants and sanitizers are substances or mixtures of substances used to destroy or suppress the growth of harmful microorganisms such as bacteria, viruses or fungi on inanimate objects and surfaces. These products contain about 300 different active ingredients and are marketed in several formulations: sprays, liquids, concentrated powders and gases. Approximately $1 billion is spent each year on a variety of disinfectants and sanitizers. More than 8,000 disinfectants are currently registered with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and sold in the marketplace. Technology for testing residuals on food today is more sophisticated and therefore higher levels of detection are possible. Whereas 10 years ago, parts per million (ppm) was normally the accepted level of detection, now parts per billion (ppb) is common. Some disinfectants and sanitizers registered for use on mushroom farms have no EPA established level of allowable tolerance for residue on the mushrooms themselves. Therefore, any residue on a mushroom is a concern for the growers and industry as a whole. This article hopes to outline what we know about disinfectants and sanitizers and how to safely and properly use them on a mushroom farm.