Combining scientific research and technology in collaboration with growers and processors, AquaPulse Chemicals is on a mission to transform food safety.
The U.S. Food & Drug Administration estimates that there are about 48 million cases of foodborne illness each year. This equates to one in six Americans becoming sick from contaminated food. Recognizing foodborne pathogens pose one of the greatest threats to the food supply, a group of scientists re-invented AquaPulse Chemicals three years ago with the goal of making food safer, more abundant and nutritious.
“The entire food industry faces challenges with food sustainability including foodborne pathogens and outbreaks of salmonella and E. coli,” Vice President Jim Byron says. “Consumers can become overwhelmed by news about food safety and may simply ignore the subject entirely. Or worse, consumers stop buying some foods because they don’t understand what is safe and what isn’t safe to eat. What the food industry wants is the approach we take, which is bringing scientific data and technology in collaboration with growers and processors to make food safer.”
Based in Oxnard, Calif., AquaPulse Chemicals provides a full-service program. This includes expertise, written recommendations, validated equipment, chemicals, service and documentation with continuous monitoring, control, data recording and reporting, field service and calibration of systems that use its chemicals. Three years ago, California Miles Chemical Company acquired AquaPulse Chemicals to expand its portfolio of solutions working to solve challenges in food production.
“AquaPulse Chemicals has been spending money to accumulate ‘real world’ data that creates understanding and supports good decisions, ensuring food safety,” President Don Osborne says. “We have invested with the growers, and for the growers, all for the end-consumers.”
“When we acquired AquaPulse Chemicals, that really was the pivotal moment when we began working with growers and started on the journey we are on now,” Byron says. “To make scientific decisions you need data. What was needed in the industry was scientific data from real world agricultural applications of chemistry. As Don says, we have been investing millions to acquire that scientific data so the industry will be better informed when making decisions about irrigation water treatment, for example, and achieve the best food safety outcomes.”
AquaPulse Chemicals prides itself on not having a typical vendor-client relationship. “We take a collaborative approach where we actually spend time in the field with growers and in the plants with processors to understand the big picture and regulations,” Byron explains. “We work as a resource to the industry and our reward is helping the industry do a better job so restaurants, hotels and end-users have an even better food experience.”
With a complete understanding of the growing and processing environments, as well as the bacteria and pathogens that pose a risk, AquaPulse Chemicals has systems of chemicals, equipment and people it deploys to help its customers eliminate contamination. “The industry is becoming aware of us and allowing us to take over this part of their responsibility, knowing they are putting it in the hands of a company that’s capable, trusted and has a track record for solving these problems so they can sell the food to the market and it’s a positive thing for everyone all around,” Byron says.
AquaPulse Chemicals refers to its full-service program as “Field-to-Fork” because it stands side-by-side with growers and processors, helping them bring safer foods to restaurants and consumers. “Growers are spending a significant amount of money and time on providing safer foods,” Osborne says. “AquaPulse is there through the entire process, from germination to the time it gets on the truck after being processed.”
The scale of food production and everything that influences how a final product gets consumed or prepared is undergoing fundamental changes today. AquaPulse Chemicals’ mission is to be a resource to the industry to ensure that when people eat a strawberry or a salad in their home or in a restaurant, they are able to enjoy the experience and not have to worry about foodborne pathogens. “Our vision is that we will continue to play a role in the critical development of technologies to advance the science of food safety,” Osborne says.
The company admits it still has a lot of work to do. “The number of people who are made ill from foodborne pathogens is 30 times greater than the number of reported cases,” Byron adds. “The numbers are actually really concerning and it’s sad. There are deaths and long-term consequences to failure. That’s why we are so committed and we are investing millions of dollars to bring a scientific approach to the industry so people can enjoy their food.”
AquaPulse Chemicals is also supporting development of new technology that is capable of detecting dangerous organisms in minutes versus days, as well as detecting animal intrusion in farmlands and potential exposure to legionnaires bacteria. The company is commercializing its technology to the United States market and is looking to expand into Mexico.
“Our goal is for people to go out and enjoy eating, enjoy their families and enjoy life, and never have to worry about any of the scientific details that we spend every day making sure are done properly in the food production chain,” Byron concludes.