Ozone vs. Chlorine in the Food Processing Industry

Food Safety

Application of Aqueous Ozone Food Processing

The utilization of ozone in food processing serves as an effective disinfection system, either as a supplementary or primary approach. This method yields favourable outcomes for businesses. A study focused on fresh strawberries and shredded lettuce examined the impact of varying ozone concentrations, contact times, pH, and temperatures on food quality, considering ozone as a potential sanitiser.

To evaluate the product quality, changes in texture, firmness, browning, decolourization, oxygen consumption, and carbon dioxide respiration were analyzed during post-treatment storage over 0 to 21 days. The study also assessed the effectiveness of ozonation on natural microflora, including mesophiles, psychotropics, yeasts, and moulds, to enhance the shelf-life of the produce.

In comparison to chlorine treatments, ozone treatments led to a slight increase in lettuce browning but significantly slowed down respiration rates and firmness deterioration, even after 21 days of storage. For strawberries, no significant difference in food quality was observed between ozone and chlorine treatments. Notably, ozone treatments at doses below 10 mg/L were found to be ineffective in eliminating natural microflora on the product surfaces

ozone food

Issue

Concerns arise regarding the quality and microbial safety of fresh agricultural products, particularly minimally processed items with limited cleaning and sanitization before consumption. The handling and processing of produce from growth to end-user purchase can lead to mechanical damage, potentially compromising its quality.

Testing/Approach

To address these concerns, a study was conducted, employing chlorine and ozone treatments on both lettuce and strawberries. The objective was to assess the effectiveness of these treatments in preserving the quality and inherent biological characteristics of the produce. The aim was to enhance the overall product quality and extend its natural features for a better market offering.

Conclusion/Findings

Ozone demonstrated the ability to slow the respiration rates of lettuce, contributing to an extended shelf-life. However, both chlorine and ozone had no impact on the respiration rate of strawberries, indicating produce-specific results. In terms of firmness, ozone outperformed chlorine, proving more effective for both strawberries and lettuce. Nevertheless, ozone did not prove effective in preventing lettuce browning when compared to chlorine, while no change in colour was observed in strawberries.

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Authors: Wei, Kuangji, Zhou, Hongde, Zhou, Ting and Gong, University of Guelph, Guelph, Ontario, Canada

Published: Ozone: Science & Engineering, 29:2, 113 – 120

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