Have you ever had unhygienic food make you sick? Public health has been impacted by foodborne illnesses, which contribute significantly to health care costs around the world. According to CDC, Foodborne illnesses cause 128,000 hospitalizations and 3,000 deaths each year in the United States and sicken 48 million Americans (about 17 percent of the population). This blog post covers various benefits of ozone for food hygiene including best recommendations about choosing the right ozone machine for your food processing business.
Obtaining a thorough understanding of best practices and establishing standard routines to prepare, handle, and store food is crucial for reducing a business’ risk of serving unsanitary food to their customers, and to ease the burden placed on the public healthcare system. In spite of increasing knowledge of the risks of contamination throughout the food chain, from production to plating, businesses still face difficulties in ensuring food safety.
The Challenges of Chlorine
Water and equipment are disinfected with chlorine regularly. In spite of its disadvantages, it is an excellent method of deactivating pathogenic microorganisms.
Chlorination has significant disadvantages, however. For example, restaurants, hospitality, and catering industries use chlorinated sanitizing systems that usually require frequent deliveries, expensive hot water, designated storage space, and employees who need to be trained and tasked with carefully measuring and mixing the chemical cleaning agents.
Consequently, businesses have to spend more money and exert more effort. Additionally, chlorine-based systems require substantial rinsing because chlorination may cause taste and odor objections. Food products can develop an unpleasant flavor due to inadequate rinsing.
A Better Alternative?
It is considered safe and effective to use ozone water or ozonated water in food preparation. Oxidizing and decomposing bacteria’s cell membrane, ozone water can directly destroy bacteria and sterilize kitchen equipment. This causes osmotic bursting, meaning bacteria cannot survive in ozone water.
There are three oxygen atoms in one molecule of ozone (O3). Due to the formation of free oxygen atoms or free radicals, the gas can readily degrade back to its stable state, diatomic oxygen (O2). Almost anything (including viruses, bacteria, organic and inorganic compounds) that comes into contact with the free oxygen atoms oxidizes, which makes ozone a highly effective disinfectant and organic oxidizer.
Odorless ozone is a much stronger oxidizer than chlorine and hypochlorite, which are other common disinfectants. As a result of the potential formation of carcinogenic byproducts, such as trihalomethanes, during disinfection, the use of chlorine or hypochlorite has decreased considerably worldwide.
By contrast, ozone disinfection doesn’t leave behind any harmful residues, and any residual ozone is converted back to oxygen within a short period. Therefore, ozone has been recognized as a deeply-beneficial disinfectant for the environment.
The rate at which ozone water (also known as ozonated water) sterilizes is 3,000 times faster than general chlorine disinfectants, and its efficiency is 50 times greater. During food preparation, ozonated water rinses provide effective protection from bacteria, regardless of whether they are on foodstuff surfaces or on the hands of preparation workers, who can immerse their hands in ozonated water rinses.
In addition to eliminating bacteria, yeasts, and molds that cause decay, ozonated water enhances food safety by reducing microbial populations, such as E. Coli, Shigella, and Salmonella.
The safest and most effective way to sanitize business facilities is with ozone water. The freezing temperatures make ozone water a powerful disinfectant. It is not necessary to store chemicals or hot water with ozonated water, unlike chlorine. Using ozonated water to train food handlers is simple: Just immerse the food in it for at least 30 seconds. The ozone molecules in ozone water naturally turn back into oxygen within twenty minutes, making ozone water environmentally safe. Due to this, the products do not require separate disposal procedures, like chlorine-based products; and they do not leave harmful residues behind.
Chlorine vs Ozone for Food Safety
Fruits and vegetables have increasingly been scrutinized for their safety in recent years, and particularly for the methods for reducing and eliminating human pathogens from fresh produce. Improved Fresh Fruit and Vegetable Safety through Ozone Use.
Washing fresh fruits and vegetables traditionally requires water sanitized with or without an agent. In terms of killing bacteria on fruit and vegetable surfaces, chlorine is the most widely used sanitizing agent. In addition, the health and environmental communities have expressed concern about residual chlorine by-products. Food safety can be significantly improved by finding an alternative treatment. The use of ozone as a sanitizing agent has been proven through research and commercial applications.
A major contributor to the world economy is the produce industry. As a result, millions of gallons of wastewater are produced each year in the U.S. with extremely high concentrations of biochemical oxygen demand (BOD) and toxic chemicals. Among the many serious consequences of these wastewaters are cancer, fish death, water pollution, psychological and physiological disorders, and ecosystem destruction. Produce industries also pay heavy fees for discharge of waste water into public water and wastewater treatment systems. It is important to identify alternative sanitizers to replace traditional sanitizers that can be used to recycle or treat food processing wastewater as well as improve food safety.
A combination of ozonation and filtration can be used to clean and purify fresh fruits and vegetables. Water treated with this method is free of bacteria, color, and other particles, and it can be recycled to reduce water consumption. When wastewater is discharged by an ozonation process, it is free of chemical residues, unlike conventional chlorine-based washing systems, a growing concern related to groundwater pollution and the environment.
To prevent bacteria, mold, and yeast on food surfaces and to control insects, ozone gas is used as a strong sanitation and fumigation agent. It can be used in storage rooms and during shipping and can be used to sanitize foods before and after they are shipped. As a result, it can eliminate bacteria-derived flavor, and it removes ethylene gas to delay ripening, extending the shelf life of the fruit.
To learn more about ozone benefits for food processing, you can check out our bog post about ozone for food processing.