Food producers are always looking for effective and cost-effective ways to store food and extend the shelf life of their products. Cold rooms are one of the most common methods of preserving fruits, vegetables, meat and fish. The temperatures vary from low cool to way below freezing. All food products, being highly degradable, start breeding bacteria, even in such cold environments. However, cold storage is expensive, energy intensive, and does not, by itself, destroy microorganisms. Thus, food is susceptible to microbial growth, fungal decay and pests in storage.
Ozone is a powerful disinfectant that also has antimicrobial properties, it inactivates bacterial spores, molds, yeasts, protozoa and viruses. The disinfection of cold rooms with ozone is the most effective, economical and practical solution for food storage. Ozone inactivates microorganisms in fresh produce such as fruits, vegetables, meat and many other food products, keeps the air free of germs, prevents mold and fungus growth, and reduces pesticide levels in fresh produce.
Several studies show that ozone is effective against numerous harmful food pathogens and extends the shelf life of food.
The main advantage of ozone is that it leaves no residue and does not affect the taste or smell of stored food, thus not affecting the quality or nature of the food in any way.
- Natural way to eliminate the odors (oxidative process – Ozone reacts with all microorganisms and eliminates them effectively due to its strong disinfection and oxidizing power);
- It kills bacteria, molds, fungus, spores, viruses and all unwanted microorganisms, there by preventing the microorganisms from contamination;
- The cost of the equipment is recovered in a short period of time;
- It leaves no residue 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;
- Safe for the environment, 100% natural, does not leave residues and it is not storable (produced in local);
- Ozone has biocide and deodorant properties;
- Automatic operation system, does not require human action.
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.