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Biozone Manufacturing

Ozone in the organic food industry

Ever wondered why fresh fruit and veges and even meat, especially overseas, appears to be bland and tasteless compared to home-grown food?

Worried about chemicals and pesticides on your veges, fruit or meat…..or bugs in your processed food?

You are not alone…hence the booming interest in organic food farming and processing.

Any chemical free process that works in water or waste water treatment and also for rinsing and storing fresh food has to be attractive.

The answer to all of this is…..OZONE

OZONE……THE STORY

The Ozone layer is well known, where the lack of it causes enormous problems in our living environment. What is not known however is that Ozone can be produced at ground level to tremendous advantage?

Ozone is a gas that is generated by ultraviolet rays or corona discharge by splitting the oxygen molecule in to 2 individual atoms which then attach themselves to another oxygen molecule thus forming an O3 molecule. 

This molecule is very unstable with a short half life where it will revert back to oxygen in a short period of time. It therefore has unique capabilities for sanitation and sterilisation.

Ozone is second only to fluorine as an oxidant and has been used in Municipal water treatment plants and in the medical field since the late 20th Century. Because of its short half life and its tremendous oxidising capabilities, it can be used in situations where residual chemicals are undesirable. For example in food preparation or water purification, where chlorine is used to kill bacteria the use of ozone to replace chlorine will result in no residual damage or contamination.

Ozone works 3000 times quicker and is 2.5 times stronger than chlorine as an oxidant.

In water purification and effluent treatment it is used to disinfect the water, remove algae, improve flocculation, oxidise iron and manganese and remove colour and odour. 

These contaminants are common in South African waters and the effect of Ozone can be judged by the number of Municipal Water Treatment plants upgrading to ozone disinfection and oxidation. (Plettenberg Bay, Midvaal Water Treatment, Vaalkops, Delmas, Rietvlei, Roodeplaat ,to name a few).

In air treatment ozone is used to eliminate odours, sterilise the air and ducting and remove pollutants such as cigarette smoke and carbon monoxide.

In food sterilisation, thermal based sterilisation and pasteurisation accounts for about 55-60% of the processes used and chemical sterilisation, accounts for about 30%. Thermal processes adversely affect the physiological, nutritional, sensory and functional properties of food products and we all know the problems associated with chemical treatment. Even where eco friendly chemicals are offered, when investigated in depth, it is found that the manufacturing process required is, more often than not, damaging to the environment resulting in no advantage to the environment instead of conventional chemicals.

Within water sterilisation, chemical-based treatments has been the dominant sterilisation technique, accounting for about 60% of the market, followed by ultraviolet based water sterilisation (~28%).

Apart from the genetics controversy these are probably the main reasons that organically grown and processed food is becoming such a large Industry.

Consumers are demanding less-altered taste, non-thermal methods that preserve the flavour, nutrients, colour and texture.

Furthermore retailers list shortened shelf life of fresh food as a major cost and wastage is of major concern.

Increasing prohibitive regulations and demand for chemical-free food is increasing usage of alternative chemical free solutions.

Food Manufacturers are adopting preservation methods such as high pressure systems, ozone, pulsed electric field, ultraviolet and bacteriophage to reduce the amount of chemicals used during food and water sterilisation. Also with the high cost of water in the Processing plant where ozonised water can be recycled, the resultant savings in capital cost pays for the equipment in a short period of time.

Changing consumer preference for chemical free, high quality minimally processed food, coupled with strong regulatory support is driving the acceptance for ozone.

Ultraviolet, being chemical free, is the key competing technology for ozone based sterilization but irradiation suffers from unfavourable consumer perception as a sterilisation method and this has adversely affected the demand for UV and irradiation products. (Recently in USA, new irradiation facilities have faced significant local opposition and by way of example, citizens in Illinois, US, successfully pressured state officials to force a new e-beam facility to apply for an air pollution permit.)

Biozone Manufacturing based in Randburg, Johannesburg have been in operation for 12 years, specialising in Ozone Generation and Ultra Violet systems. BM has a close affiliation with 2 of the largest Ozone generator suppliers in USA whose principal clients are the Food Processing Industry and because of this, recognizes the opportunity and demand for a high quality product that works and welcomes enquiries from Growers or Processors requiring environment friendly systems for:

  1. Water treatment 
  2. Waste water treatment and recycling
  3. Rinsing of fresh food with ozonated water to eliminate surface bacteria and pesticides.
  4. Exposing fresh produce to Ozone gas if water rinsing is not possible.
  5. Using Ozone or UV in Cold or rooms to maintain clean bacteria free environment and prevent mould growth (increase shelf life).
  6. Using Ozone in Storage areas to eliminate ethylene.
  7. Ozone gas to treat packaging before packing such as in vacuum packs.
  8. Bottling plants to rinse containers before filling.
  9. Refrigerated transport to prevent cross contamination of spores and airborne pathogens in transit food.