E.coli 0157:H7 Reduction with Ozone

24th Apr 2020

E.coli 0157:H7 Reduction with Ozone

E. coli Reduction with Ozone

Bacteria is not the most common topic for discussion around workplace water coolers. However, in recent years, a specific strain of bacteria has garnered a fair amount of press and discussion. The bacterium strain E.coliO157:H7 has become so popular in the media that most people have a healthy fear of this bacteria.

Escherichia coli (E.coli) is a Gram negative bacterium that is commonly found in the intestines of animals and humans. Specific strains of E.coli are dangerous and can cause food borne illnesses. One of the most dangerous strains of E.coli is O157:H7. This strain of E.coli results in an estimated 2,100 hospitalizations annually in the United States and can be life threatening.

This strain of E.coli can be found on many vegetables, meats and even the water supply. Most infections from E.coli O157:57 are caused from food borne illness, mainly undercooked ground beef. However, some have been waterborne. In May of 2000, the municipal water supply of Canadian town Walkerton, Ontario; was contaminated with this pathogen and has been blamed for over 2,000 illnesses and seven (7) deaths.

Antimicrobial interventions to reduce food-borne pathogens are getting harder to find. For example, historically chlorine has been a low cost and relatively easy-to-use oxidizer that is effective against a wide variety of pathogens. However, the use of chlorine is becoming more difficult to integrate as the potentially harmful side effects of chlorine are becoming more and more apparent. This is also happening with other antimicrobial interventions such as methyl bromide, chlorine dioxide and sodium hypochlorite.

A fairly new antimicrobial intervention that is both effective and safe is ozone. The use of ozone is gaining popularity in drinking water, food processing and surface sanitation. While ozone is effective on a wide variety of pathogens, studies were done to prove that ozone is effective against the deadly strain of E.coli O157:H7. Research has been performed and ozone has proven to be a successful antimicrobial agent in the reduction of E.coli O157:H7. We have assembled a few research papers that used ozone on various food products to successfully reduce or eliminate E.coli O157:H7. These can be found HERE.

Implementation of Ozone

Aqueous Ozone

The most common method of using ozone for pathogen reduction is dissolving ozone into water. Aqueous ozone is very stable, safe and easy to manage. Typically, ozone is dissolved into water using an ozone injection system and then sprayed onto the surface requiring disinfection. This surface may be a hard equipment surface or the surface of a food product.

Ozone levels of 2.0 ppm are commonly used for E.coli O157:H7 reduction. Only a few seconds of contact time of the aqueous ozone with the pathogen is necessary for inactivation.

Using this data, a determination of spray nozzles, spray bars or even conveyors can be established. It is clearly shown that 2.0 ppm of aqueous ozone is very effective in only a short period of time, while higher ozone levels show only marginal improvement.

Ozone can also be used in drinking water to inactivate E.coli O157:H7. This has been confirmed by the EPA and recognized as a suitable disinfectant for water. 

Gaseous ozone

The use of gaseous ozone for the elimination of pathogens is less common. There is also less research showing the effects of gaseous ozone on bacteria. The application of gaseous ozone is dependent upon the temperature, humidity, contact time and ozone levels. Research has been conducted to determine that gaseous ozone will reduce and inactivate E.coli O157:H7, however more research is necessary to determine the effectiveness of ozone within different variables.

Below is an excerpt from the Direct Food Additive Petition presented to the FDA in August 2000 to achieve GRAS status for the use of ozone to inactivate E.coli O157:h7, along with other pathogens.

Efficacy of Gaseous Ozone Against Generic E.coli in Ground Beef

Resolution Concerning the Use of Ozone in Food Processing

Source: Dee Graham, "Ozone as an Antimicrobial Agent for the Treatment, Storage and Processing of Foods in Gas and Aqueous Phases," August 2, 2000.

The worldwide use of ozone as an effective sanitizer and disinfectant began in France in 1902 and has been documented in an expert panel report entitled "Evaluation of the History and Safety of Ozone in Processing Food for Human Consumption." This Declaration of GRAS Status for Use of Ozone in Food Processing was presented to the FDA on April 10, 1997 and published thereafter in the scientific literature and the trade press.

Numerous ozone applications have been installed throughout the food industry in the United States during the past two years. The benefits to public food safety are major, especially related to the food hazards identified in the President's Food Safety Initiative. These include newer pathogens such as E. coli 0157:H7, Listeria and resistant cyst formers such as Cryptosporidium and Giardia, all of which are inactivated effectively by ozonation.

Resolution Signers

Dennis Lavelle, President Dell Industries 3428 Bullock Lane San Luis Obispo, CA 93401 Charles D. Sopher, Ph.D. Director, EPRI Food & Agricultural Technology Alliances 2000 L Street, Suite 805 Washington, DC 20036
William P. Roenigk Senior Vice President, National Chicken Council 1015 Fifteen Street, NW Ste. 930 Washington, DC 20005-2605 Nari Nayini, Ph.D. Senior Development Associate Food Applications R&D Praxair, Inc. 7000 High Grove Boulevard Burr Ridge, Illinois 60521-7595
James T. C. Yuan, Ph.D. Head, Food & Biochemical Research Air Liquide 5230 South East Avenue Countryside, Illinois 60525 Robert E. Smith, Ph. D., President R. E. Smith Consulting, Inc. 222-B Eagle Point Road Newport, Vermont 05855
Caleb L. Gilchrist, Ph.D. Director, Scientific Affairs American Meat Institute 1700 North Moore Street, Ste. 1600 Arlington, VA 22209 Jurgen Strasser, Ph.D., President Process & Equipment Technology 3312 Las Huertas Road Lafayette, CA 94549-5109
Richard Forsythe, Ph.D. Professor Emeritus -- Poultry Science Dept. University of Arkansas Fayetteville, Arkansas 72701 Dee M. Graham, Ph.D., President R and D Enterprises 2747 Hutchinson Court Walnut Creek, CA 94598
Charles W. Pearsall Vice President RGF Environmental Group 3875 Fiscal Court, Suite 100 West Palm Beach Florida 33404 Frank Busta, Ph.D. Professor and Emeritus Dept. Head Food Sciences & Nutrition University of Minnesota 1334 Eckles Avenue, Room 258 St. Paul, MN 55108-6099
Barbara Blakistone Senior Specialist Food Chemistry & Packaging Dept. National Food Processors Association. 1350 I Street, NW, Ste. 300 Washington, DC 20005 Abit Massey Georgia Poultry Federation P. O. Box 763 Gainesville, Georgia 30501
Stuart Proctor, Jr. National Turkey Federation 1225 New York Ave NW-Ste 400 Washington, DC 20005 Don Dalton U.S. Poultry & Egg Association 1530 Cooledge Road Tucker, GA 30084
Michael W. Pariza, Ph. D. University of Wisconsin -- Madison Food Research Institute 1925 Willow Drive Madison, WI 53706 Rip G. Rice, Ph. D. President Rice International Consulting Enterprises 1331 Patuxent Drive Ashton, MD 20861
S. R. Tatini, Ph.D. Food Sciences & Nutrition Dept. University of Minnesota 1334 Eckles Avenue St. Paul, MN 55108-6099 Sharon P. Shoemaker, Ph.D. Executive Director California Institute of Food & Agricultural Research 250 Cruess Hall Davis, CA 94516
Lee C. Ditzler President Novazone 346 Earhart Way Livermore, CA 94550 Don Dalton U. S. Poultry and Egg Associ 1530 Cooledge Road

Papers About E.coli and Ozone

Antimicrobial Effects of Ozonated Water Against Generic E.coli on Swine Intestines

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Application of Ozone for Inactivation of Escherichia coli O157:H7 on Inoculated Alfalfa Sprouts

Alfalfa sprouts contaminated with the bacterial pathogens Salmonella and Escherichia coli O157:H7 have been the source of several foodborne outbreaks in the US and other countries

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Efficacy of Ozone Against Escherichia coli O157:H7 on Apples

Apples were inoculated with Escherichia coli O157:H7 and treated with ozone

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Efficacy of Aqueous Ozone for the Decontamination of Escherichia coli O157:H7 and Salmonella on Raspberries and Strawberries.

The efficacy of ozone as a water additive for washing raspberries and strawberries was investigated

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