Biosecurity for Food
Processing

Securing the food chain from farm to table
Challenges

Food processing is a massive topic, but our focus area is in the harvesting and cleaning process of fruit and vegetables, such as bananas, lettuce and carrots. Each has specialized preparation processes.
Pathogens already exist on the produce, whether from the soil or from animal or bird droppings, and more are potentially introduced from harvesters hands, tools, harvesting machines and during crating.

Pesticides and fungicides used during the growth season are also still present and need to be removed. Sometimes, certain produce like bananas will have a latex coating that needs to be removed too.

Harsh chemical sprays and fumigation chambers are commonly used but they leave a chemical residue and the run-off can hurt the environment. Also, some farms are so remote that large quantities of fresh water for washing have to be brought in on tankers. As the water is used it rapidly becomes contaminated, and so more harsh chemicals have to be used to disinfect the water, which further affects the produce and the environment.

It’s a balance of profitability vs. food safety, and yield vs. the environmental impact.

Fumigation Chamber

O3D2 is used in the product fumigation chamber, to clean the food before packaging for transport. It uses ozone and UVC light, removing about 99% of the pathogens during the fully automated process. This can be used in conjunction with traditional fumigation techniques such as ethylene dibromide, which is effective against the stages of certain fruit flies and maggots.

Rinsing water
Fresh water is used extensively to rinse the food of physical and microbiological contaminants. The waste water cannot be reused directly because of cross-infection and so it must be recycled.

O3D2 injects ozone into the waste water as well as irradiates with UVC, after it has left the food, inactivating organic matter.

The aqueous ozone can then be used as a very effective non-thermal disinfectant. Surprisingly, one study showed customers more likely to purchase 25 day-old packaged salad after pre-treatment with ozone and small quantities of chlorine based disinfectants, than 4 day old salad treated with chlorine alone.

Alternatively the ozone can be removed, resulting in plain fresh water.

This can have a dramatic impact on farms wishing to reduce their water consumption, or dependency on tankers delivering clean water.

Box preparation

In a closed environment such as a locked room, boxes and materials used for packaging are prepared by O3D2 so that pathogens are not propagated there.

Side effects

Unlike chemical disinfectants such as sodium hypochlorite, O3D2 does not affect the food taste, smell nor texture. It only uses renewable resources, electricity and air, and leaves no run-off into the environment.

Propensity to buy

The chart above is taken from an EPRI study called Treatment of Cut Vegetables with Aqueous Ozone: Technical Assessment. It shows the likelihood of a bag of mixed salad being purchased over a 25 day period, depending on how it has been pre-treated. The original method was a strong chlorine-based disinfectant, then pure ozone, and finally a dilute chlorine combined with ozone.

O3D2

O3D2

Biosecurity

Biosecurity

Food Transport

Food Transport

Poultry Farms

Pultry Farms

Listeria

Listeria

Salmonella

Salmonella

Clostridium

Clostidrium

Cyclospora

Cyclospora

E. Coli

E. Coli

How does O3D2 use AI?

O3D2 uses AI to continuously sense the environment and make instant decisions that result in cleaner outcomes, in less time, without damaging the assets its trying to keep clean in a careful balancing act.

How does O3D2 produce ozone?

It uses high-voltage electron ionization to split diatomic oxygen into ions, which combine with O2 to produce triatomic oxygen, O3. The process is more efficient with drier input air, and even better when coupled with an oxygen concentrator.

What kind of UV light does O3D2 produce?

It produces high-energy UVC light, in the 254-280 nm range of wavelengths which is known to disinfect

How does ozone decontaminate?

Triatomic oxygen is a highly reactive gas. Each molecule readily oxidizes various elements of organic material. For example, it cause bacterial membranes to rupture, rendering them inert. For viruses, ozone causes peroxidation of the infected cells and also damages the viral capsid.

Which pathogens can O3D2 destroy?

Bacteria, viruses, fungi, mold and spores. Each pathogen reacts differently to ozone and UVC, meaning different concentrations and contact time.

Is ozone safe?

Yes, it is FDA approved for use in decontamination with OSHA guidelines for concentrations and exposure time, and 0.1 ppm is considered safe for humans. O3D2 constantly monitors the air to assess when it is safe to re-enter.

What happens to the unspent ozone?

It naturally degrades back into regular oxygen. This can take minutes to hours depending on many factors including whether it is airborne or dissolved in water, temperature and humidity. For safety, O3D2 measures the concentration of ozone until it is safe. Catalytic destructors accelerate the process.

What are some examples of recalls?

Dec 2020, 8,492,832 lbs of Tyson frozen ready-to-eat chicken products due to potential listeria contamination (link)

Mar 2019, 78,164 lbs of Butterball’s turkey products due to possible Salmonella Schwarzengrund contamination (link)

2011, 33 died, 147 infected in 29 states from cantaloupes that were “contaminated in the farm’s packing house because of dirty water on the floor” and that “packing and storage facilities” helped to spread the listeria from Aug to Oct 2011 (link)

More at FDA’s recall website and this summary site.