More consumers are adding fresh fruits and vegetables to their diets and placing more emphasis on “farm to fork” making it critical for retailers to ensure foods within produce areas are free of harmful microorganisms and safe for consumption.

Foodborne outbreaks from produce have been on the rise.  E.Coli contaminated melons, lettuce, tomatoes, and other produce have caused serious illness or death for people across the country.  Additionally, retailers and suppliers of produce suffer from millions of dollars of lost crops and revenue.

The last seven years prior to 2018 saw more than 20 outbreaks coming from produce in North America alone. Some of the pathogens involved are Salmonella spp., Escherichia coli O157:H7, Listeria monocytogenes, hepatitis A, etc. Myriad produce types, such as cantaloupes, romaine lettuce, cucumbers, and even frozen produce, are responsible for these outbreaks.[1] This year, the United States experienced a massive foodborne outbreak of E. coli O157:H7 in romaine lettuce.

As of May 30, 2018, more than 150 individuals have become ill, and several have died. In addition, farmers have experienced extreme crop loss, retail sales have plummeted, and restaurants are changing suppliers and finding substitutes for romaine lettuce, which stops or slows down the supply chain flow.[2]

Adding ozone to existing produce preparation protocols at the retail level can help to reduce or eliminate harmful pathogens residing on the surface or in crevices of produce significantly reducing the changes of causing illness.  Ozone technology is FDA approved and EPA registered. Ozotech’s PR220-PRO system is effective on both whole and further processed produce and can be used as a surface sanitizer.The PR220-PRO system has been shown to reduce pathogens E.coli, Listeria, and Salmonella using produce wash and process water since studies show water alone does not kill pathogens. The PR220-PRO dispenses a 440 mg/hr of sanitizing ozone solution with the option of spraying or submerging the food or produce.

Studies show ozone destroys microorganisms instantly and effectively without leaving harmful residue in treated food or processing water. Therefore, ozone is proven to be safer and environmentally friendlier than other antimicrobials. 

Consumers will continue to demand fresh, safe produce year round in restaurants, schools and grocery stores to maintain a healthy lifestyle. Using ozone technology is one way retailers can make sure the produce being consumed will continue to keep everyone healthy and happy.

References
(1.) academic.oup.com/fqs/article/1/4/289/4735151.
(2.) amp-timeinc-net.cdn.ampproject.org/c/amp.timeinc.net/fortune/2018/05/30/romaine-lettuce-e-coli-outbreak-impacts.                                                                               (3.) O’Donnell, Tiwari, Cullen, Rice, (2012), Ozone in Food Processing, 5:59.

Helping Prevent Foodborne Outbreaks with Ozone Technology

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