Food Processing

Ozone is an effective biocide in air and oxygen gas and in water for applications from food storage to food processing and from fruits and vegetables to meat, poultry and seafood. Table 2 summarizes effective points where ozone has been introduced in the food supply chain. Like chlorine, ozone in water is more effective in disinfecting the water and preventing contamination of uninfected product than disinfecting the products directly (13). Unlike chlorine, ozone decomposes to oxygen and simple by-products, leaving no residue or buildup of compounds that requires the water to be discharged. Furthermore, ozonized water will have lower biological and chemical oxygen demand and lower fats, oil, and grease characteristics, reducing the environmental burden.

From the field to the grocery store, ozone is playing a more significant role in providing safe and environmentally sound food supply system as part of producers' Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Point program (14). Ozone plays a role in disinfecting wash water for fruits and vegetables before packing and storage. Potable water is generally not available for field processing in some areas and countries. Ozone is capable of disinfecting the water without leaving a chemical residue on the product or contaminating water that will find its way into the environment.

Ozone concentrations of 0.5 to 15 ppm in air applied to food storage have the capability to extend shelf life by inhibiting growth to destroying molds, viruses, and bacteria on food surfaces. In food processing plants, ozone treatment of the product transport flumes reduces the bacterial content of the final product by controlling the bacteria levels and cross-contamination. Ozonized water in place of chemical sanitizers is used in clean-in-place systems to disinfect process lines in food, dairy, and other beverage processing lines.

Animal slaughter plants can use ozone to wash down carcasses on the kill floor prior to cooldown and storage (15). Ozonized water spray and ozone gas applied in beef storage facilities controls mold growth. In poultry processing plants, filtration and ozonation of poultry chill water returns the water quality to a state that it can replace po-

Table 2. Successful Points for Ozone Intervention in the Food Supply Chain

Food Successful ozone applications

Fruits and vegetables Storage, field processing, plant processing Grains Storage

Milk and dairy products Clean-in place, storage

Meat, poultry, and seafood Postslaughter, poultry chiller, storage

Beverages Clean-in place table processing water (16). Not only is the water saved, but the energy cost of lowering the temperature to near 32°F is saved as well. The fishing industry is using ozone to wash freshly caught fish and storing them on ozonized ice on board ship to extend the shelf life.

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