According to notes from the United Fresh 2009 expo by The Packer, specialized harvesting manufacturer Ramsay Highlander, Inc. plans to release in June a patented commercial lettuce harvester that uses water jets. Advantages of using water cutting for lettuce harvesting, says Ramsay Highlander CEO Frank Maconachy, include food safety. Water jets’ precision cutting will not cause bleeding or browning as conventional harvesters sometimes do.
Although it is best known for things like glass cutting, water jet technology’s efficacy in food cutting has long been established. Food Production Daily magazine wrote in 2005 that “water jet technology is one of the fastest growing major machine tool processes in the world due to its versatility and ease of operation…The technology offers processors sanitary advantages over other mechanical cutting methods, since there is no bacterial transfer from food to food or from tool to food. There is also no downtime for sharpening as there is with knives. Operator safety is improved because water jets can be remotely controlled by robotics.”
Using water jets for food cutting has also gained popularity due to its preservation of the material being cut and the very small kerf width—this means that very little food is wasted in the process. Additionally, water jet cutting does not produce harmful vapors or hazardous materials.