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Ozone in the Food Industry

Because ozone is a safe, powerful disinfectant, it can be used to control biological growth of unwanted organisms in products and equipment used in the food processing industries. Ozone is particularly suited to the food industry because of its ability to disinfect microorganisms without adding chemical by-products to the food being treated, or to the food processing water or atmosphere in which food are stored.

In aqueous solutions, ozone can be used to disinfect equipment, process water, and some foodstuff. In gaseous form, ozone can act as a preservative for certain foods products and can also sanitize food packaging materials. Some products currently being preserved with ozone include eggs during cold storage, fresh fruits and vegetables, and fresh fish.

Until recently, the food processing industry limited its use of ozone mainly to the treatment of bottle water and wastewater because ozone was not approved by the FDA for food applications. Recent actions, however, have cleared away some major barriers to wider applications of ozone. In 1997, through efforts of the Electric Power Research Institute (EPRI), the FDA granted ozone with the status of "Generally Recognized As Safe" (GRAS) as a sanitizer and disinfectant for foods. EPRI accomplished this following guidelines set forth by the FDA. The process involved assembling a panel of experts on food, toxicology, and ozone to evaluate scientific and historic information on the use of ozone in food processing. The panel affirmed GRAS classification for ozone "as a sanitizer or disinfectant for foods when used at levels and by methods of application consistent with Good Manufacturing Practices." The FDA does not have to reaffirm the GRAS classification, and food processors now free to use ozone for sanitation or disinfection.

The GRAS classification for ozone was announced with a few months of the passage of a new Federal law which, for the first time, limits the presence of E. coli and Salmonella on meat and poultry. The timing of the GRAS classification is advantageous because ozone is particularly effective in inactivating these infectious agents.

Food processors and beverages manufacturers consume billions of gallons of water daily for food handling, washing, processing, and cooking and for cleaning equipment. All of this water must be free of contaminants. Even before ozone received GRAS status, the food and beverage industry had begun to recognize its potential as a disinfectant and as an alternative to chlorine, which traditionally has been used to treat food processing water. This is because ozone eliminates a problem associated with chlorine disinfection-the potential for the build-up of toxic residues of chlorine and chlorinated by-products in water that has been treated more than once.

Ozone is rapidly gaining acceptance as an alternative to chlorine for disinfection. Why? Because it works! Contact Ozone Solutions for your needs.

Last Updated: May 31, 2012

The above information is from and is copyrighted by Ozone Solutions Inc.
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