DANBURY, Conn., April 25, 2003 — Praxair, Inc. (NYSE: PX) today announced that it has reached agreement with Strickland Produce, Inc. to install the first commercial unit of the Praxair® NatureWash™ozonated water produce washing system at Strickland's Nashville, Tennessee location. The initial use of the patent pending NatureWash system will be to process fresh-cut fruit and vegetables prepared by Strickland for the pre-packaged, ready to eat consumer market.
Walter Strickland, president of Strickland Produce, has been a leader in the produce industry supporting the benefits of ozone for washing and disinfection of fruits and vegetables. "The Praxair NatureWash system delivers a continuous washing and dewatering operation that precisely regulates and monitors the ozone level during washing of produce," comments Strickland. "We are very encouraged by the results Praxair has shared with us and look forward to beginning production at our facility."
"Our in-house tests with a commercial scale system have shown superior sensory and microbial results over that normally seen with traditional washing systems," said John Capettini, business development manager at Praxair. "The computer controls simplify adjusting ozone levels required to process different types of produce; this is an important step to gain the full benefit of using ozone for produce. Since Strickland is known as a market leader in fresh-cut produce, we are excited to install our first system into their production line."
Ozone has been used in Europe for decades and was granted GRAS (generally recognized as safe) status in the U.S. for direct contact with food as a processing aid in June of 2001. Strickland Produce will initially process 1000 lbs/hour of cantaloupe and honeydew melon following installation of the NatureWash system. "We are extremely pleased to be the first produce company to offer fresh-cut produce that looks fresher and tastes better through the use of ozone," concluded Strickland.
Strickland Produce processes fresh-cut value added produce, packaged salads and salsa. They are a pioneer in the use of ozone-processing technology to wash fruits and fresh-cut vegetables. In a four-year development period, Strickland found that incorporating ozone into the washing process better preserves the taste, appearance and texture of produce compared to previous methods.
Praxair is the largest industrial gases company in North and South America, and one of the largest worldwide, with 2002 sales of $5.1 billion. The company produces, sells and distributes atmospheric and process gases, and high-performance surface coatings. Praxair products, services and technologies bring productivity and environmental benefits to a wide variety of industries, including aerospace, chemicals, food and beverage, electronics, energy, healthcare, manufacturing, metals and others. More information on Praxair is available on the Internet at www.praxair.com.
Susan Szita Gore