Food Contamination: Ozone Answers Concerns

Ozone water treatment systems should become the next biggest
sales category for water professionals. With ever-increasing media attention
being focused on water quality and food contamination issues, consumers are
more concerned than ever about water and food safety. People are always looking
for more answers to how they can protect themselves and their families in
everyday exposure to germs. The big advantage of an ozone system is that it not
only kills bacteria and cysts in water, it also has been shown to kill bacteria
on food.

A recent case involved a hepatitis A outbreak that killed
three people and sickened nearly 600 others who ate at a Chi-Chi's Mexican
restaurant. The outbreak was traced to green onions coming in from Mexico. This
case highlighted the fact that more of our food is coming from foreign
countries with less stringent sanitary standards. Consumers want more fresh
produce, and they want it year round, resulting in more imported food. Also,
there seems to be a sharp rise of food-borne illness from fruits and
vegetables. In 2000, there were almost as many reported cases of food poisoning
from produce as there were from beef, poultry, fish and eggs combined,
according to an advocacy group's compilation of government data. Until recently,
produce was the last place investigators looked for food-borne illness.
According to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), less than 2 percent
of produce that crosses the border is inspected for disease-causing bacteria.
There is a real need to find better ways to combat food-borne germs that can
lead to illness.

Water Treatment

More and more homeowners are looking for treatment of their
tap water at home. Ozone is one of the common types of point-of use water
treatment. Standard filtration can allow microorganisms to pass through. Super
fine micron filtration may filter out cysts but can contaminate downstream when
filters are changed. Reverse osmosis produces a limited amount of water per day
and many systems may waste significant amounts of water flushing out
contaminants. Reverse osmosis also can allow bacteria and viruses to pass into
the drinking water and can produce a flat, "dead" tasting water.
Ultraviolet light eliminates some bacteria only as long as the bulb is at full
strength and does not provide residual disinfection protection downstream. None
of the common water treatment systems offer the benefits of corona discharge
ozone, which produces more ozone than ultraviolet light.

Ozone is recognized as the most potent bactericide and oxidant
available for water treatment. Although ozone has been used in water treatment
for more than 100 years in Europe, it has only gained acceptance in the United
States in the past 10 or 15 years because chlorine has been more widely used.
The fact that ozone has been used instead of chlorine in Europe for nearly a
century reinforces that it is not new nor is it an unproven technology. Recent
research has shown that ozone treatment has many advantages over chlorine and
other available anti-microbial agents. A key advantage of ozone over chlorine
is that it not only kills bacteria, but it also destroys viruses and waterborne
parasites. Ozone also has been proven to kill germs up to 3,200 times faster
than chlorine—with absolutely no chemical residue. Chlorine can produce a
carcinogenic byproduct called trihalomethanes (THMs) when combined with organic
matter found mostly in surface waters. Chlorine also leaves a taste and an
objectionable odor when used in water treatment. That's important to consumers
who increasingly are becoming concerned about all the chemicals that are used
in food and water supplies. Another advantage of ozone is that all the water a
customer uses for drinking, cooking, bathing and laundry can be treated.

Ozone Benefits

Ozone is considered to be nature's own purifier and
sterilizer. Ozone is a condensed form of oxygen that is created by electricity
such as when lightning leaps through the air. Oxygen molecules are split apart
and condensed with three atoms instead of the normal two. When introduced into
water, the extra atom attacks the impurities and pathogens leaving pure, fresh
oxygen behind. Ozone must be generated on site to have active bacteria fighting
benefits. Then the ozone reverts back to oxygen within minutes. Those using home
or commercial ozone water treatment units can enjoy the delicious, refreshing
taste of "pure" FDA-quality water with a sanitizing power to kill
germs on contact.

An ozone system allows the user to rinse foods to kill
microbiological germs and oxidize chemical contaminants on fruit, vegetables,
meat, fish and poultry, as well as extend the shelf life of these products.
Cold-water rinsing of sinks, dishes, cutting boards, meat storage trays and
other food preparation areas kills bacteria such as E. coli style='font-style:normal'> and Salmonella normal'>. When ozone is still in it's active form, it will eliminate bacteria,
viruses, yeast, molds and mildew on exposed surfaces and can even be used as a
mouth rinse to kill harmful germs and bacteria.

The use of ozone as an antimicrobial agent for food
treatment, storage and processing has been approved as safe by the FDA for
several years. The FDA's review of data shows that ozone represents a safe and
effective agent to prevent microbial contamination of food. There is increasing
use of ozone in the food processing industry.

Today, many systems are designed and available for
residential use as well as for the restaurant, food service and related
industries, and for use with commercial ice machines. There also are units
available for recreational vehicles, campers or boats.

Ozone systems are easy to install and easy to maintain.
There is no hassle or cost of adding replacement chemicals. The units fit under
or on top of a counter with a simple connection to the water source and are
capable of producing up to one gallon per minute. The units run on a
high-output, 15-volt DC, low temperature ozone generator.

The market for ozone water treatment is sure to expand
throughout all categories. Particularly among better educated, more affluent
customers, the chemical-free nature of an ozone system holds significant
appeal. Maintenance is low, and there is no expense for chemicals. There are
some potential customers to whom ozone appeals simply because it is state-of-the-art.
But the overriding fact for the future of ozone is that it will help safeguard
the health of consumers by preventing food contamination.

Ozone really will be the wave of the future for home and
commercial water treatment, especially because it is a chemical-free process.
It should become the treatment of choice among both water treatment
professionals and their customers.

With the growing concern for pure drinking water and safer
food products, an ozone water treatment unit promises to become a staple
kitchen appliance. It will quickly join other necessities such as garbage
disposals, microwaves, smoke alarms and security systems that all have become

The need for effective water purification and sterilization
will perhaps be even more critical. Unlike a security system that protects just
in case of a break-in, germs invade our homes continuously. With an ozone water
treatment system, consumers can protect themselves from germs and enjoy
great-tasting water at the same time.

Ozone treatment offers an outstanding sales opportunity for
the water treatment specialist simply because it allows you to offer so much
more to your customer: nothing less than peace of mind.

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About the author

Ed Jones is president and CEO for Tru-Pure Ozone Technologies, Green Bay, Wis. He can be reached by phone at 920-863-2444; [email protected];