Latest discussion on ozone use to prevent foodborne pathogens

It’s always nice to see your beliefs validated by independent experts, so I was pleased to see the December 6, 2010, article on titled ” How ozone, ultraviolet and filtration systems work with surface sanitation to optimize food safety.”

Authored by Robert Maddock, PhD, the post appears in the site’s “Best Practices” section and gives glowing reviews to an important component of systems designed by AWPI to help commercial poultry and produce processing facilities reduce the risks of foodborne pathogens: ozone. This sort of press is important to our mission because it lends credence to the idea that food processors can do a safe, effective job of disinfection without chlorine, which is bad for employees, bad for consumers, and bad for the environment.

The article describes ozone as a strong oxidant and potent disinfecting agent whose bactericidal effects have been documented on a wide variety of organisms. No surprises there, but I was pleased to see the author’s broad recognition of ozone’s usefulness in food processing, including not only equipment sanitation, but food surface hygiene. This is an application that AWPI intends to explore in the future, and it’s an important one, particularly in light of increasing public and regulatory concern about the safety of chlorine use for direct food application. And as the article pointed out, ozone leaves no residues, even when applied directly to food.

Maddock covers the disadvantages as well as the advantages of ozone, pointing out that, as with any technology, it requires properly operating equipment. Good point, and this is one of many reasons that AWPI provides sophisticated monitoring and control systems for all our produce processing and commercial poultry equipment.

He points out that ozone isn’t effective unless it comes into actual contact, but of course, that’s a limitation of any chemical-based bactericidal treatment.

All in all, it’s a very positive review of ozone use for the prevention of foodborne pathogens, and he finishes by pointing out that ozone has been USDA approved. Another article linked at the bottom of his post discusses the FDA / GRAS approval of ozone.

I can’t stress enough the importance of avoiding chlorine and other harmful chemicals in food processing applications. When I read articles like Mr. Maddock’s, I’m reassured that we’re getting there.