Can Ozone be used in Food Processing and Storage?
Food processing and storage requires strong care and attention to hygiene. Ozone is a natural solution to disinfect and sanitize not only any storage, but packages and food itself, assuring that what comes to our table remains free of harmful microorganisms.
Learn more about how ozone can play an important part in assuring the quality of our food scrolling down!
Nowadays, the consumer demand for high quality packaged products is increasing.
Safer, healthier, higher quality, and less processed foods are currently the main challenges faced for the manufacture of food products. This is true for both the consumer and food service markets. Ozone is the solution for this concern.
Ozonated water for washing and producing disinfection exceeds the traditional methods that leave residual chemicals and impart of bad smell and flavor. Also, the traditional method affects the quality of foods such as loss of original flavor, taste, appearance, color and nutritional quality.
In response to consumer demands for ‘greener’ food, the interest in ozone has expanded in the recent years, because of its oxidizing properties that contribute to the improvement of safety and quality of food products during all stages of food processing and storage.
Ozone is effective against several kinds of microorganisms on fruits, vegetables, meat, grains and seafood. It is known as a biocide against virus, bacteria, biofilms, fungi and protozoa, destroying them by oxidation.
It is about 50% stronger than chlorine, and thus is characterized by a broad spectrum of antibacterial activities. The bactericidal effects of ozone have been confirmed on a wide variety of microorganisms, including Gram-positive and Gram-negative ones, as well as bacterial spores
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How does it work?
Ozone is a safe, extremely vigorous disinfectant and oxidizer, that can be used to control and eliminate biological growth of unwanted organisms in food or even in the equipment used in the food processing industries.
Furthermore, with ozone it is impossible for a microorganism to build up any resistance to oxidation.
It is generated on-site, no need to handle or mix chemicals for sanitation. Excess ozone auto decomposes rapidly in oxygen and thus leaves no residues in foods from its decomposition.
Ozone treatment assures the sensory, nutritional and physicochemical characteristics of food remain. Furthermore, ozone extends food shelf-life and removes undesirable odors.
The treatment conditions should be specifically determined, following the safety standards and the right levels, for effective and safe use of ozone in all kinds of products in food processing and storage processes.
During food processing operations, surface disinfection and the food storage of the raw commodities is very important, too.
Ozone can be applied in storage spaces and surfaces, eliminating all microorganisms that it encounters: bacteria, virus and fungi.
With regulatory approval, ozone has become the best eco-friendly environmental option, at the same time that it is the best choice for cost-effectively disinfecting food.
The application of ozone improves the microbiological safety of food products and extends their shelf-life without changing their nutritional, chemical, and physical properties.
This process provides the company with a greater assurance of food safety and, substantially reduces the plant’s water usage.
Ozone Action depending on Stored Products:
Meat – Meat refrigeration and freezing contributes to the inhibition of the activity of germs and molds present on its surface, however, as they are not eliminated, they recover their infectious and reproductive capacity when the meat is again exposed to room temperature. The ozonation of the meat industry’s conservation chambers guarantees the elimination and prevention of the development of all types of germs and molds, guaranteeing the total sterilization of the meat, keeping it free of bacteria capable of causing infections harmful to health (such as Listeria,Salmonella and E.Coli, among many others). Ozone will allow a reduction in losses due to deterioration and meat that is softer, more tender, cleaner and with a longer shelf life.
Fish – Refrigeration and freezing of fish is not enough to guarantee its total asepsis. Low temperatures contribute to delay the development of microbes and enzymes present on the surface of the product or in the chambers themselves, however, when the cold chain is broken and the fish is exposed again to room temperature (or even in an uncovered cold bench), these microorganisms recover their reproductive capacity, increasing the chances of food putrefaction and even cause illness in the final consumer. Fish tends to host bacteria such as Listeria, Salmonella, E.coli, Shigella, Botunlinum, among others, potentially harmful to health and is characterized by releasing strong and unpleasant odors. The application of ozone in the refrigerated chambers of the fishing industry allows the elimination of all microorganisms present on the surface of the fish, as well as in the chamber itself, guaranteeing food safety and considerably increasing the time that the product remains in good condition. Ozone directly attacks the molecules that cause odors, fighting them at the root and thus achieving complete deodorization, reducing ammonia emissions, stabilizing the pH and extending the shelf life of the fish.
Fruits and vegetables – The safest way to prolong the shelf life of fruits and vegetables while preserving all their organoleptic characteristics (color, brightness, odor, texture and flavor) after harvesting is to control ethylene production and ensure absence of pathogenic microorganisms and chemical residues both on the surface and in the food. Ethylene is the natural ripening hormone of fruits and vegetables. Fruits and vegetables produce ethylene naturally after being separated from the plant, that is, in the post-harvest phase. Overexposure to ethylene produces great physiological deterioration in fruits and vegetables. Due to the use of ozone, ethylene levels can be controlled, delaying the natural ripening of fruits and vegetables. Ozone naturally oxidizes ethylene, giving rise to ethylene oxide, an antimicrobial compound. On the other hand, ozone also manages, thanks to its biocide property, to leave all fruits and vegetables free of pathogens and chemical residues. In this sense, gaseous ozone is a powerful complement for conservation in post-harvest refrigerated chambers.
Eggs – In the refrigerated chambers of the egg industry, contamination caused by fungi is likely to appear, as they require considerable humidity for their conservation. However, an adequate application of ozone inside the chambers prevents the appearance of mold, constituting an effective solution even when there is high humidity. By preventing fungi that alter the eggs, the preservation of their initial organoleptic characteristics (color, brightness, odor, texture and flavor) is guaranteed, that is, their weight and size, as well as their taste.
Cheese – In the process of curing cheese, it is necessary to maintain a high level of relative humidity, between 80 and 97%, thus making it prone to the appearance of mold on its surface, impairing its final appearance, since it they have to be washed and/or scraped off. The application of ozone in the conservation and maturation chambers prevents the appearance of mold, reducing weight loss and the use of labor in washing and scraping the cheeses. In addition, ozone also eliminates odors, preventing the impregnation of odors between different cheeses.
Results of Ozone Application on Bacteria & Virus
|S. salivarius||Elford & van de Eude (1942)|||||ΦX174||de Mik (1977)|
|S. epidermis||Heindel et al. (1993)|||||poliovirus 1||Harakeh & Butler (1985)|
|B. subtilis||Botzenhart et al. (1993)|||||Roy et al. (1982)|
|E. coli||Katzenelson & Shuval (1973)|||||Katzenelson et al. (1979)|
|Finch et al. (1988)|||||NDV (Newcastle disease virus)||Perez-Rey (1995)|
|Bunning & Hempel (1995)|||||Enterobacteria phage T2||Katzenelson (1973)|
|Burleson et al. (1975)|||||Bacteriophage T7||Lockowitz (1973)|
|S. typhimurium||Farooq et al. (1983)|||||rotavirus SA-11||Vaughn et al. (1987)|
|S. aureus||Burleson et al. (1975)|||||Hepatitis A||Hall & Sobsey (1993)|
Source: W. J. Kowalski, W. P. Bahnfleth and T. S. Whittam2; “Bactericidal Effects of High Airborne Ozone Concentrations on Escherichia coli and Staphylococcus aureus“; Article in Ozone: Science and Engineering · August 1998
The most powerful oxidizer available;
Eliminates germs, bacteria, virus and microorganisms;
Controls and destroys microbes;
Disinfects and preserves fruits and vegetables;
Reduce pesticide levels on fresh products;
Reduce the amount of chemical oxygen demand (COD) and biological oxygen demand (BOD) of water used in washing and processing;
Eliminates mold from the area dedicated to cold storage;
Maintains the storage sanitation inhibiting the pathogen agents;
Reduces the risk of cross-contamination of pathogens;
Extends the validity period of the product (fruits, vegetables);
Improves product quality;
Controls bad smell;
No chemical storage required;
No harmful chemical residual left and does not affect the taste or smell of stored food;
Ozone largely eliminates mycotoxins and pathogens;
According with FDA, Ozone is Generally Recognized as Safe (GRAS) for use in food processing;
Eco-friendly and economically feasible technology;
Environmentally friendly disinfectant;
Save water usage;
The cost of the equipment is recovered in a short period of time.
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