Helmut Leili, a veteran agronomist and CEO of Cardinal Fresh, has proposed using Ozone treatments to kill pathogens and bacteria in fresh produce. According to Leili, the same principal that is applied as an antibacterial treatment in other capacities can be safely used for fresh produce.
"Ozone (O3) is a very powerful and natural oxidizing gas that simply and quickly reverts back to natural oxygen," Leili explained. "The technology of creating ozone is well developed and used extensively in many applications, such has municipal water treatment, hospital sanitation, home remediation, and medical treatments such as cancer treatments and blood transfusion."
He added that when it comes to fresh produce, Ozone would be an effective way to deal with pathogens which are difficult to treat with other methods. "In the fruit and vegetable business, millions of dollars in fresh fruits and vegetables are being recalled weekly due to deadly pathogens being hidden within the cracks and crevices of fresh food. The best example of this is the Romaine lettuce recall which has already cost the industry hundreds of millions of dollars. Consumers will not trust the romaine lettuce market for years to come which would be a further hundreds of millions of dollars being lost in future market value."
A chamber where ozone would be used to treat produce
Technology developed for Latin American exports
Leili has been researching ozone application solutions for more than five years now and has now developed three technologies specifically for Mexican and Latin American exporters. He said the technology is now developed to a point that allows ozone to be applied to exported fruit and vegetables in a safe and effective manner.
"Ozone is a gas," Leili shared. "It is effective as both a water treatment and dry treatment. It penetrates cracks and crevices of food surfaces and is hundreds of times more effective in killing an extremely wide range of pathogens. It is also completely natural and has a short half-life - meaning it reverts back to its natural state of oxygen quickly, leaving no residues. Ozone has no impact on food taste and has zero negative impact on the environment. The technology of the 'delivery' system has finally become the last hurdle to overcome for fresh food production. The low maintenance costs, plus the versatility as a dry and/or wet application method, with an extreme level of effectiveness across a wide range of organisms, makes this sanitation system highly desirable."
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