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Seeka leads the way in developing a non-invasive UV testing technology
22 April 2016

Seeka leads the way in developing a non-invasive UV testing technology

22 April 2016

Te Puke, April 22 - Seeka Kiwifruit Industries, working in conjunction with Zespri, has led the way in developing a non-invasive UV testing technology to check trays of export kiwifruit potentially affected by lubricant oil contamination.

Seeka is one of a number of Bay of Plenty packhouses supplied by distributor UPNZ with a batch of moulded plastic pocket packs that were found to have been contaminated by the Chinese manufacturer.

Zespri has held up a total 1.7 million trays of kiwifruit while it investigates whether any of the fruit has been contaminated. Seeka fruit represents less than one-third of the total that has been held, and with teams working 24/7, expects to have completed its checks by the end of next week.

 “We moved immediately to develop a technology that would allow us to check our fruit, and so far have found a very low ratio of contamination of between 1:8,000 and 1:10,000 trays,” said chief executive Michael Franks.

Although Seeka has a rigorous quality control system, it began working on the problem as soon as Zespri advised the packhouse industry of the issue. The solution Seeka came up with is the use of an ultra violet light with a specific frequency which is shone through the trays from below and fluoresces if it detects contamination.

Because the light is damaging to eyes, Seeka has made a special unit that projects the image onto a computer screen for viewing.

Seeka Western Regional Manager Jarrad Bates - who is supervising the testing operation at Seeka’s cool store in Totara Street, Tauranga - said the company had tested UV lighting at a number of different frequencies to find the one that worked with the particular contaminant and type of plastic involved.

“It is a very unusual frequency on the light spectrum and we had to import the bulbs from the US,” said Mr Bates.

General Manager Growers Simon Wells said the Seeka team had worked closely with Zespri to ensure the industry export body was comfortable with the test procedure that has been developed. Seeka has five assessment lines operating and will be manufacturing more UV boxes for use by the industry and Zespri.

“We have also made our procedure open to other members of the packhouse industry and a number have come to observe what we have done, but so far as we are aware no-one else has developed their own version yet,” he said.

 “Our cleared kiwifruit is now sitting in our cool store and we are waiting for Zespri to give approval for it to be exported.”

For more information please contact Michael Franks 


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