Ozone Gets OK for Food Industry Use from FDA
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
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
"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
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
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
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
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
Joseph F. Borzelleca, Ph.D., Fellow-A.T.S., Fellow-I.F.T.
Medical College of Virginia
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.
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