Certain amount of oxygen (O2) in the atmosphere can be converted into ozone (O3) by the Sun’s ultraviolet rays. Any energy source capable of breaking the oxygen molecule can potentially produce ozone. Ozone is a powerful oxidizer. When the pH (amount of alkalinity or acidity) rises between 6.0 and 8.5, this chemical disinfectant is more effective than chlorine or chlorine dioxide. It destroys bacteria, yeasts, molds and parasites. This blog post illustrates various regulations imposed on use of ozone in Canada.

Ozone for Food in Canada

Ozone is allowed for use in Canada by Health Canada with the following provision.

According to “Food and Drug Regulations C.R.C. c.870 B.16.100”:

  • Ozone is permitted in Wite as a Maturing Agent
  • Ozone is permitted in cider manufacturing as Maturing Agent
  • Ozone is permitted in mineral or spring water as a Chemosterilant

Health Canada comments on specific requests to obtain “no-objection opinions” regarding ozone’s use in specific food processing applications.

In the processing of fruits and vegetables along with meat, including poultry, pork, and beef, the use of ozone as a sanitizing agent in water has not been objected by Health Canada.

Advantages of Ozone for Food Processing

  • Ozone is a non-chemical alternative for water treatment and sanitizing food contact surfaces.
  • Ozone saves money because water doesn’t have to be heated.
  • Ozone is compatible with organic food processing.
  • Ozone can be generated onsite, so no storage space is required.
  • Ozone only requires air or oxygen for its production.
  • Ozone leaves no residue in water or food.
  • Ozone can be applied in an gaseous or aqueous state.
  • Ozone is faster and better at removing microbes than chlorine.
  • Ozone is a non-thermal way to control microbes and pathogens in food processing.

Health and Safety

The use of ozone usually requires precautions as is the case with the use of other powerful oxidizing agents. Good ventilation, extraction or inactivation systems are needed because gases are released during ozonation.

When inhaled, ozone causes dry mouth, coughing, irritation of the nose, throat and chest. Threshold limit value (TLV) of ozone is 0.1 parts per million (ppm). Anything above the threshold could be unhealthy. Workers are likely to smell ozone before it reaches a dangerous concentration because the odor of ozone can be smelled as low as 0.01 to 0.05 ppm. Ozone is toxic at high concentrations but easy to detect at low concentrations.

Commercially available test strips can be used to measure ozone levels in air. More sophisticated wall-mounted or handheld devices can be used to measure factors such as ultra violet absorption specific to ozone.