Eliminating Mold Spores in Food Processing Plants
The food industry has taken notice of the danger that molds and mold spores pose to human health and of the public and financial consequences that mold proliferation within processed food may have on their business. Recent recalls on different food contaminated with mycotoxins (peanut butter, for example) are examples of such problems.
Government is also contributing to alleviate the problem by regulating and inspecting certain commodities. Aflatoxins are considered unintentional and unavoidable in food and feed contaminants. Good manufacturing practices must be followed to prevent mold spore germination and proliferation. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) have the mandate to monitor peanuts and field corn for aflatoxin content and have the power to mandate a recall on any food or feed that has a high level of aflatoxins.
Eliminating mold spores in food processing plants is very difficult. Prevention is the key. Special filters must be installed to avoid mold spores being carried inside the food processing plant by air or water. The quality of water and air should be constantly be monitored for the presence of molds and mold spores. Traditional cleaning agents used by the food industry (chlorine, hydrogen peroxide, iodine) are ineffective in destroying mold spores.
Cleaning with ozone is probably the best method of eliminating food spores in food processing plants. Ozone is a tri-atomic oxygen (03) that has a very high redox potential (energy). Ozone is more than 3000 times more powerful a disinfectant than chlorine and it is particularly helpful in destroying mold spores by virtue of its high redox potential. Ozone is used in Japan, Europe and Australia, but has been used with limitation in the US. Ozone can be used to clean air or to be incorporated in water (known as ozone charged water and used to clean pipes, tanks, floors , equipment, surfaces, walls, etc.
Mold spores represent a threat to human health and to the business of food industry. Proper mold spore elimination within the food processing plant and prevention (GMPs) are important to eliminate and control this threat.