Ozone Water for Food Prep: A Better Alternative

Almost everyone has experienced the unpleasant consequences of consuming unhygienic food. But food poisoning can be much more serious than an uncomfortable evening. Unsanitized food processing equipment and unhygienic food treatment are often the culprits. The Centers for Disease Control estimates that foodborne illnesses sicken as many as 48 million Americans annually, which adds up to roughly 17 percent of the US population!

These preventable infections sadly also lead to some 128,000 hospitalizations and 3,000 deaths. Aside from the costs to human health and life, foodborne illness is a significant contributor to the cost of healthcare around the world and is increasingly seen as a critical public health issue.

Although more knowledge regarding the science of food safety is known today than ever, businesses in the industry still face challenges in maintaining the high hygienic standards required. To reduce the risk of a business serving unsanitary food to their customers, and to ease the burden on public healthcare, it’s crucial to establish best practices and delineate standard routines in the preparation, handling, and storage of food.

Using Chlorine Can Leave Toxic Residue

Chlorine has traditionally been one of the most commonly used disinfectants for water and equipment disinfection. Although is very effective for the deactivation of pathogenic microorganisms, chlorine is not without significant disadvantages.

Chlorination has major drawbacks: For restaurants, hospitality, and catering industries, the use of chlorine-based sanitizing systems requires frequent deliveries, expensive hot water, dedicated storage space, and the need to train employees in how to accurately measure and mix the proper proportions of harsh chemicals and chemical cleaning agents. 

All of the above means extra costs and manpower expenditures for businesses. But additionally, chlorine-based systems require substantial rinsing. Chlorination can result in unacceptable tastes and odors due to inadequate rinsing; leaving food products with an unacceptable chemical reside or “bleach” flavor.

Ozone is a Better Alternative

Ozone water, or ozonated water treatment, is a safe and effective disinfectant for use in the food industry. Ozone can directly oxidize and decompose a bacteria’s cell membrane, causing osmotic bursting, meaning bacteria can no longer survive. Ozone water is also highly efficient in sterilizing kitchen equipment and decontaminating water used in the food preparation process.

Ozone gas (O3) is unstable and comprised of three atoms of oxygen. It is unstable because the gas will readily degrade back to its stable state, diatomic oxygen (O2), as it forms free oxygen atoms or free radicals. These free oxygen atoms or radicals are highly reactive, immediately oxidizing most things they encounter — including viruses and bacteria, as well as organic and inorganic compounds.

This reaction makes ozone an enormously powerful disinfectant and oxidizer. In fact, ozone is a much stronger cleaner (through oxidization) than commonly-used disinfectants such as chlorine and hypochlorite. The use of chlorine or hypochlorite is on the decline in many countries, due to potential carcinogenic by-products found in higher concentrations of chemical residue, such as trihalomethanes (THM), that can form during the disinfection process. 

In contrast, ozone disinfection does not produce any harmful residue. All residual ozone is converted back to oxygen in the oxidation process within a short time, making ozone a powerful, yet environmentally-friendly disinfectant.

Compared to commonly-used chlorine-based disinfectants, the sterilization speed of ozone water (also known as ozonated water) is 3,000 times faster, and its sterilization ability is 50 times stronger. Aqueous ozone is effective against E. coli found on the surface of foodstuff. Ozone water also sterilizes the hands of handlers, who immerse their hands in ozonated water rinses during food preparation. Ozonated water prevents decay and thus extends products’ shelf lives by eliminating decomposition agents such as bacteria, yeast, and molds. Furthermore, O3 enhances food safety by reducing or eliminating foodborne pathogens, including E. coli, Salmonella, Listeria, and Shigella. 

It’s clear that ozone treatment water is the safest and most effective method for sanitization for any business connected to the food processing industry. It is a clean and pure choice for drinking water from a tap or when used in bottled water. Ozonated water is a cold-water disinfection agent. Unlike chlorine, which requires hot water rinses. No other chemicals are needed when using ozonated water.

The simplicity in training food handlers to use ozonated water is another corporate benefit: workers are instructed to simply immerse the food in ozonated water for at least 30 seconds. Moreover, as noted, ozone water is environmentally safe as ozone molecules naturally revert to oxygen within 20 minutes. No dedicated disposal procedures are required, again, unlike chlorine-based products; as no harmful residues are left behind.

Because of its safe and reliable characteristics, ozone has been approved as a disinfectant and sanitizing agent by the US FDA since 2001, when it was granted GRAS status approval. Ozone is also approved by FDA as a food additive. 

Applications of Ozonated Water for Food Prep

Using ozonated water in the washing process enhances food safety by killing waterborne and surface pathogens on food products, on processing equipment, and contact points of fresh produce food handlers. Unlike chlorine sterilization processes, ozone leaves no chemical residual, and no tastes or smells. When used with a BES system, there is no effect on pH balance, which makes it the perfect disinfection for hotels, restaurants, and catering businesses.

Modern, advanced ozonated water systems with FDA approval are designed to integrate into existing food production and processing lines and handling facilities. BioSure’s Central Ozone Water Sanitization System, for example, uses water electrolysis technology to generate ozone-dissolved water containing high purity ozone.

This water can then be used for handwashing before cooking, food ingredient washing, food processing station cleaning, and tool disinfection. The system can be integrated with your existing water supply, transforming ordinary tap water into high-concentration antibacterial disinfectant O3 water. 

An increasing number of household brand names, such as WM Morrison Supermarkets, Loblaw supermarket, Shangri-La Hotels and Resorts, Maxim’s Inn, and Worldwide Seafood Ltd, are successfully utilizing BioSure Ozone Water Sterilization System to accomplish high levels of food safety. As a representative from Worldwide Seafood notes, “Food safety is the first priority of our company. We use BioSure’s products to eliminate all potential risks to our customers and to ensure that the processing process meets global Hazard Analysis Critical Control Point (HACCP) standards.” 

“We use BioSure’s products to avoid possible cross-contamination of food products at any time during our work,” adds a representative from WM Morrison Supermarkets.“ Whether in employee hand washing or surface disinfection of equipment, we rely on BioSure to help us maintain quality and food safety. During our long-term cooperation, BioSure products have proved their value and are fully trusted by us.”

Ozone – Safe, Effective, and Reliable

Other benefits for food and beverage businesses such as restaurants, catering services, central kitchens, and hotels that utilize Ozone disinfection systems from BioSure include:  

Cost-reduction
Ozone treatment reduces costs. No expensive chemical solutions and no specially-trained cleaning crews are required to keep your business sanitized. There are also responsibility issues: getting sued by someone who contacted E. coli can be extremely harmful to your reputation and bottom line.

Accident risk reduction
Despite thorough training, mistakes are still made in the mixing of chemicals and cleaning processes. Cleaning crews can also potentially damage non-food contact surfaces by cleaning them with harsh chemicals. Ozone totally eliminates these risks.

Significantly more environmentally-friendly
The ozone oxidation processes are natural. Ozone will revert back to oxygen and produce no harmful substances after the reaction. It leaves no chemical residues, and it has no taste or smell after the reaction. It also has no effect on the pH balance of water. The producing process creates no known carcinogen, allowing it to be discharged directly without causing environmental pollution.

Improved reliability
After considering the alternatives, ozone clear comes out on top. O3 water treatment is an invaluable tool for food prep companies as well as food serving sites, be they cafes, restaurants, or bars. Such establishments have a responsibility to keep their customers safe. Ozone provides both business owners and customers peace of mind as you will know and can vouch for the efficacy of the sanitation process.

Ozonated Water: Chemical-free, FDA-approved solutions since 1988

BES Group has been a leading electrolytic ozone manufacturer since 1988 and is dedicated to environmental sanitation solutions. BioSure Professional, under the BES Group, provides professional solutions for applying advanced ozone technologies in food safety and hygiene, commercial laundry, air quality control, water treatment, healthcare, and other industries. Our sanitation solutions have helped numerous global corporations and organizations, spanning industries from hospitality to medical care. In addition to sanitation, we aim to improve the broad spectrum biocide by reducing the millions of chemical detergents used annually. To see more details on our effective solutions, please contact us.

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