The global community remains concerned about the safety of meat and its potential health risks. Illnesses attributed to pathogens such as E. coli, Salmonella, Campylobacter, Listeria Monocytogenes, and others remain a significant issue. As a result, the meat industry is continuously searching for novel technologies and tactics to address and mitigate these pathogens.
However, ozone is widely utilized in the meat processing industry for various purposes, including its use in refrigerated displays and cold rooms where meat is stored for maturation.
The employment of ozone in the meat industry provides distinctive advantages in terms of decreasing bacterial growth and enhancing the overall quality, such as:
- Ozone can assist in extending the product’s shelf life within production and processing environments.
- Ozone can effectively increase the shelf life of food products stored in cold rooms, prevent size reductions, weight loss, and spoilage. In fact, the conservation of pork can be extended by at least 20% through the use of ozone.
- Ozone eliminates unpleasant odors and prevents them from being absorbed.
- Ozone acts as a deterrent against insects and parasites.
Ozone can also be applied in the form of dissolved water, where water acts as a carrier to facilitate the delivery of ozone to the intended area more efficiently. Utilizing ozonated water offers various advantages, including:
- The sanitation of slaughtered animals during cleaning and rinsing is crucial. In the poultry industry, large volumes of water are used, but through ozonation, the water can be reused, reducing health risks and generating substantial savings. Moreover, ozonated water can be used to wash poultry both before and after evisceration, ensuring complete sanitization of the product.
- To prevent cross-contamination between different types of foods, equipment must be washed using a standard degreasing cycle.
- Ensuring that tanks and pipes are always in excellent condition is essential for the sanitation of plants.
- By avoiding the use of chemicals, which can potentially alter the product and pose a risk to operators, there is no wastewater to dispose of.
Ozone Used for Neutralizing Listeria
Listeria is a type of bacteria found in the soil, water, vegetation, and feces of several animals, without causing any evident symptoms of disease. It can proliferate and thrive at various temperatures ranging from 0°C to 45°C and can endure in various environments, as well as in processed and ready-to-consume foods like hot dogs, cold cuts, pre-packaged salads, sandwiches, smoked fish, etc. As a result, it has the potential to contaminate any stage of the food production and consumption process.
The symptoms of Listeria infection in humans are predominantly gastrointestinal and can manifest as foodborne illnesses within a few hours of ingestion or, in certain cases, may have an incubation period of a few weeks. However, in invasive forms, the infection can spread from the intestine into the bloodstream, resulting in severe and potentially fatal complications.
Adhering to hygiene regulations, such as washing, proper handling of food, maintaining cleanliness of processing premises, ensuring correct cooking procedures, and monitoring product expiry dates, is crucial to prevent the sale of high-risk products. In addition, proper pasteurization of dairy products and effective control measures are necessary to ensure the safety of products. Hence, maintaining high standards of quality for product processing, storage, and packaging environments is of utmost significance.
In the absence of adequate hygiene measures, bacterial contamination can persist and spread, as certain areas may be difficult to sanitize effectively. Often, disinfectant chemicals are used for fumigation, but this approach can be challenging, as it may require extended room access and proper disposal of waste residues post-treatment.
Ozone is a proven effective solution for overcoming the limitations associated with disinfection timing and waste disposal. Various national and international experiments, utilizing tests and real-world applications, have shown that ozone can eliminate Listeria and several other bacteria in a safe and reliable manner. Furthermore, it achieves near-complete results in terms of environmental sanitation and food processing, without altering the organoleptic properties of the food products. Ozone can accomplish this within a brief period and without producing any harmful by-products.
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