Ozone Applications For Food Storage

Ozone has found extensive use in extending the storage times for fruits, vegetables, eggs, cheese, meats, poultry, and fish (17). Many European countries have developed the technology and applications. Research began in this application in the early part of this century, but today's technology is based on research since World War II. Ozone's application continues to grow as the costs of generators, sensors, and control systems have come down. Today in the United States, fruit and vegetable storage and ripening rooms and farm storage facilities are using ozone gas to control molds and bacteria as well as ripening.

Fruits

Ripening rooms first gained popularity in the storage and forced ripening of bananas. Today, ripening rooms maintain temperature within 1.5°C and relative humidity to 85 to 95% with computer-controlled systems (18). Ozone offers the potential to control fungal spoilage on fruits, control or destroy pathogens, destroy ethylene gas produced as the fruits ripen, and improve the overall hygiene of the ripening room and air-handling equipment. By reducing ethylene levels, ripening of the fruit can be delayed until the fruit is ready to be shipped to market; then, introducing ethylene gas in the room accelerates the ripening.

Vegetables

From the relatively small volumes of ripening rooms (180 m3) to vegetable storage facilities (25,000 m3), ozone controls fungal spoilage on vegetables, reduces product shrinkage, and improves product margins. Most of the beneficial evidence of ozone in vegetable storage is anecdotal and difficult to compare because of the differences in storage facilities and differences from season to season. The owner of an onion storage facility with a Cyclopss ozone system reports that while neighboring storage facilities have black mold, his facility is mold free.

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