Ozone Sanitation in the Meat Processing Industry

Ozone is a form of oxygen which is created in nature when ultraviolet rays from the sun or lightening split an oxygen molecule (O2) into single oxygen atoms (O).  These atoms then combine with un-split oxygen molecules to form an ozone molecule (O3).


This ozone is highly reactive and does not last long.  Its reactive property allows it to be used in the meat processing industry as an effective sanitizer.  Since it is so unstable and readily dissipates into oxygen, ozone generally has to be made on site by passing an electrical current through oxygen.


Many of us know how chlorine can sanitize a surface, but ozone is much more effective than chlorine and destroys a myriad of pathogens.  It can not only kill viruses and bacteria, but also fungi, spores, parasites, and protozoa as well.  It can also be used to treat wastewater before it is discharged from the facility.


In addition, it quickly disperses leaving no residue on food or surfaces.  This allows it to be classified as an environmentally friendly sanitizer.  However, ozone does have its limitations.


Ozone will react with organic substances such as lipids and proteins.  This means that equipment surfaces should be cleaned of organic material before being treated with ozone so that the substance can do it sanitizing work effectively.


While effective on surfaces such as meat processing equipment, knives, and the smooth surfaces of vegetables, ozone will react with the surface of meat, meaning more of it is necessary to reduce pathogens.   In addition, some concentrations of ozone can change some properties of meat.


Ozone has a vast potential to sanitize equipment and even some foodstuffs.  But it does have its limitations.  Regardless of how surfaces are sanitized, the important thing is that the area used to process meat and other foods are clean and as free from pathogens as possible.


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