British company Catallix is calling on supermarkets to review the “chemical soup” used to wash bagged salads.

Launching its own alternative process for washing salads in the UK, the company says retailers need to look for more environmentally inert technology and is urging them to apply the “bath a baby test”.

It says the liquids used to sanitise salads contain synthetic chemicals and can cause problems with waste disposal. Furthermore, these solutions do not have to be specified on the label.

Managing director Richard Stead said: “Tender young salads need gentle treatment for maximum flavour, texture, colour and presentation. We’re urging the supermarkets to consider treating salad items, fruit and vegetables with a natural process that’s inert enough to bath a baby in and requires no further waste water treatment before discharging into the water system.”

According to the company, some 95 per cent of salads are still washed in chlorine solutions, which are 20 times stronger than used in swimming pools.

The Catallix process was developed in France where chlorine washing is considered unsafe for food processing. It mimics a human’s own defence system, using a natural enzyme process similar to the defence used by our own bodies.

It is based on the Lactoperoxidase System (LPS), technology that has been used in other areas for decades but has only recently been targeted at food processing and especially minimal processing of salads.

Catallix’s research shows using spring water and its own Catallix washing system are the only processes that would pass the “bath a baby test”.

However, using spring water has been made difficult by problems with borehole levels.

Some supermarkets are also using chemical derivatives called fruit extracts, which Catallix says are not being used as a natural process.