OxyFile #536

Ozone Gets OK for Food Industry Use


Ozone, one of the most effective disinfectants, is used in food 
processing in other countries. Now, an expert panel says ozone is 
generally recognized as safe in the U.S.

Palo Alto, Calif. -- June 14, 1997 -- A panel of experts from food
science, ozone technology and other related fields has declared 
Generally Recognized as Safe (GRAS) status for ozone use in food 
processing.

The Food & Drug Administration (FDA) allows independent 
affirmation of GRAS status of substances by a qualified panel of 
experts. The Electric Power Research Institute (EPRI) requested an 
independent contractor to review the history and health aspects of 
ozone for possible use in processing foods for human consumption 
and for GRAS status.

After an initial meeting with the FDA, an expert panel of six 
scientists met frequently over the course of a year to interpret 
and evaluate the history of ozone.

Some of the panel's findings include:

Ozone has been shown to be a more powerful disinfectant than 
chlorine, the most commonly used disinfectant. Ozone has been used 
safely and effectively in water treatment for nine decades and has 
been approved in the U.S. as GRAS for treatment of bottled water 
since 1982.  Ozone has been applied in the food industry in Europe 
for decades and, in some cases, for almost a century. Ozone 
doesn't remain in water so there are no safety concerns about 
consumption.

"Ozone is one of the most powerful disinfectants known. There are 
no toxic byproducts or potential health hazards when properly used 
as a microbiocide," said Myron Jones, manager of EPRI's Food 
Technology Center.

Increasing constraints on the use of toxic gases for sterilants or
fumigants also makes ozone use more favorable. Ozone is generated 
for immediate use. So, leaks or spills cannot occur with ozone.

"An onsite ozone generator produces ozone via an electrical 
discharge. Ozone gas is then mixed with water for washing the food 
and process equipment. The wash water,  called flume water, can be 
filtered and recycled for reuse -- a big environmental benefit," 
said Ammi Amarnath, former manager of EPRI's Food Technology 
Center.

Jeff Barach,vice president of research and food science policy 
with the National Food Processors Association commented, "Ozone is 
very efficient in killing pathogens and spoilage organisms and its 
use by the food industry will be welcomed as another tool to 
ensure the production of safe and wholesome foods."

Additional potential applications for ozone in the food industry 
include increasing the yield of certain crops, protection of raw 
agricultural commodities during storage and transit, and 
sanitizing packaging materials used for food storage.

"While populations increase throughout the world, we are seeing an
evolution of new microbiological strains involved in human 
illnesses. Ozone will help to keep people healthy," said Clark 
Gellings, EPRI's Customer Systems Group vice president.

EPRI, established in 1973 and headquartered in Palo Alto, Calif., 
manages science and technology R&D for the electricity industry. 
More than 700 utilities are members of the Institute which has an 
annual budget of some $500 million.

Panel of Food Safety Experts

Members

Dee M. Graham, Ph.D., Fellow - I.F.T.
Chair of Panel
R and D Enterprises
Walnut Creek, CA

Michael W. Pariza, Ph.D.
Univ. of Wis. Food Research Institute
Madison, WI

William Howard Glaze, Ph.D.
Univ. NC at Chapel Hill
Environmental Sciences and Engineering
Chapel Hill, NC

Gordon W. Newell, Ph.D., Fellow-A.T.S.
General and Environmental Toxicology
Palo Alto, CA

John W. Erdman, Jr., Ph.D., Fellow-I.F.T.
Div. of Nutritional Sci., Univ. of Illinois
Urbana, IL

Joseph F. Borzelleca, Ph.D., Fellow-A.T.S., Fellow-I.F.T.
Medical College of Virginia
Richmond, VA

Ozone is produced by means of an electric discharge through air or 
pure oxygen that is passing between concentric tubular electrodes. 
The ozone-enriched gas is then bubbled through water and the 
residual ozone is destroyed.

Bubbling ozone through water provides an environmentally superior 
and effective alternative to chlorine.