A Scottish-based food-safety company, Anacail, have develop an ozone treatment designed to work with traysealed packs. While the technology has application to a range of fresh produce lines, they are currently focusing on three main produce lines grapes, tomatoes and berries.
"Our machine basically generates Ozone gas (O3) into a sealed pack using a high-voltage electrode to create a cold plasma.” Business Development Manager Ian Dewar said. "The ozone is created from the naturally occurring oxygen inside the pack; it breaks apart the oxygen molecules, and they recombine to create Ozone. The treatment head comes down onto the pack, creates a seal, and then we fire the electrode and that generates the plasma. In effect we are breaking up oxygen molecules and converting them to Ozone."
"The Ozone lasts in the pack for around eight minutes before it all reverts back to oxygen, and within about one minute, half of the Ozone has turned back into oxygen," he said. "In that time, it has destroyed mould spores, bacteria and yeasts - so it has killed any spoilage mechanisms that are in the pack. It is, in effect, a dry wash, and what we have seen from tomatoes, grapes and strawberries, where we have a lot of micro-biological data, is that we can see up to a three-log reduction, which is hugely significant. Ozone is a non-specific germicide; it kills moulds, yeast and human pathogens such as E coli and Salmonella." Due to its powerful mechanism, there’s no way for any bacteria to develop any resistance to ozone.”
Mr Dewar says one of the important factors is that it does not harm the produce, or make it unsafe at any point in time, but increases the shelf-life by killing spoilage mechanisms harmful to the fruit. Organoleptic testing and migration testing, undertaken by the company, on the packaging have shown that the process has no detrimental effect on the fruit relating to taste or smell and that there are no harmful chemical residues generated as a result of the process.