The clock is ticking. Once food has been processed, there is a finite amount of time to get it to market. Add to the mix worries about product contamina- tion, whether it is from the food itself or the surfaces contacted during processing, and it’s no wonder food
processors worry and lose sleep.
Improving sanitation is everyone’s goal. But it usually
comes with trade-offs. Most sanitizing agents can leave a
residue on the product. There’s also the need to shut down
a plant during cleaning. That’s coupled with the concern for
human exposure or the cost in both labor and chemicals.
This is why many leading food processors have utilized
ozone in both aqueous and gaseous forms for the continuous sanitation of their plants and products.
Ozone is very unique due to its extreme effectiveness
as an antimicrobial and as a cleaning agent. It leaves no
chemical residue, so it can be used continually for a consistent sanitation level throughout production.
What is Ozone?
Ozone is a gas composed of three oxygen atoms and is
a very strong oxidizing agent. Ozone is much stronger and
acts more quickly than chlorine, meaning the contact time
necessary to sanitize is lessened.
Chlorine leaves a detectable chemical residue on prod-
uct and is prohibited on imports into many countries. After
acting as an oxidizing agent, ozone reverts to pure clean
oxygen. As a result, ozone
has received the USDA’s
Ozone is not always a
complete replacement for
an existing good sanitation program, but rather a
complement to that program. In the process, it will
reduce sanitation costs in
labor, time and chemicals.
The seafood industry is
intensely focused on prod-
uct quality and no sector
has embraced ozone more
fully. This stems from the
fact that seafood is usually
sold fresh and product
quality and shelf life are
A program incorporating
ozone application onto surfaces and product maintains the
cleanest possible environment
and product. The bottom line is
improved product quality with fewer
customer charge backs.
A manager of a North American seafood processing plant once stated that he “slept better”
since using ozone at his plant.
Ozonated water is used continuously on product contact
surfaces, keeping them sanitized during the production
day. This preemptive approach virtually eliminates bio-film formation. Fresh seafood also benefits from a direct
application of aqueous ozone, resulting in longer shelf life.
Aquaculture operations also use ozone to improve colloid
flocculation and nitrite oxidation, and to inject oxygen (the
ozone by-product) into the water.
In clear water aquaculture, the goal is to achieve a 95
percent reduction of pathogenic water-borne bacteria in
water treatment systems. These benefits all contribute to
better survival and faster growth.
Fruit and vegetable storage facilities are maintained
with low levels of gaseous ozone to inhibit spoilage. As an
added value, ozone also oxidizes ethylene which retards
Processing plants maintain low levels of gaseous ozone
during production and ramp up the levels during times
when the rooms or plants are unoccupied to help sanitize
difficult to reach areas such as HVAC systems. As part of
this room disinfection protocol, ozone also oxidizes odors.
These plants no longer have the characteristic smells of
seafood or poultry plants.
Ozone is a remarkable molecule and its growing use is
making our food supply safer while improving processors’
bottom lines. ◆
Dr. James Brandt, Chairman, Ozone International
Ozone is a remarkable molecule
and its growing use is making our
food supply safer while improving
processors’ bottom lines.