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Assessing Ozonated Water's Efficacy in Sanitizing Raw Vegetables for Pet Food Processing

January 2 2024

Ozone, when integrated into water for food processing, emerges as a robust and safe sanitizer. However, recent findings from the Arkansas Agricultural Experiment Station revealed that its efficacy in raw pet food processing varies based on...

Ozone, when integrated into water for food processing, emerges as a robust and safe sanitizer. However, recent findings from the Arkansas Agricultural Experiment Station revealed that its efficacy in raw pet food processing varies based on application methods and the nature of foods.

Unveiling Health Risks Associated with Salmonella in Pet Food

A study published in the Journal of Food Protection highlighted that 35% of pet visits to veterinary clinics are linked to salmonellosis, a foodborne illness often traced back to contaminated raw pet food. Additionally, cases of human salmonellosis have been associated with tainted raw pet food, raising concerns about public health risks.

Understanding the Potential of Ozonated Water

Kristen Gibson, the lead researcher, emphasized that while ozone is harmful in its gaseous form, it serves as a safe sanitizer when dissolved in water. The study aimed to assess ozonated water's effectiveness in controlling foodborne pathogens on commonly used raw vegetables for pet food, such as carrots, sweet potatoes, and butternut squash.

Challenges with Listeria in Raw Pet Food

Listeria monocytogenes, known for listeriosis, poses a significant challenge for raw pet food manufacturers. Despite rigorous processing techniques and storage measures, Listeria persists more than other harmful pathogens, including Salmonella and Shiga toxin-producing E. coli (STEC).

Addressing Cross-Contamination Risks

Gibson's team explored two application methods—spray-washing and batch-washing—with aqueous ozone to mitigate cross-contamination risks in water tanks used during food processing. Though not reaching the same pathogen reduction levels as high-pressure processing, the study confirmed effective sanitation practices for fruit and vegetable processing using recirculating water systems.

Surface Variations and Sanitization

Studies analyzing the effectiveness of aqueous ozone against pathogens on rough-surfaced vegetables like root vegetables and tubers are limited. The research tested carrots, sweet potatoes, and butternut squash, indicating that while the spray-wash treatment significantly reduced pathogens on butternut squash, it didn't meet industry standards for carrots and sweet potatoes.

Optimizing Ozonated Water Concentration and Exposure

The study used a 5 parts per million ozone concentration with varied exposure times on frozen vegetables. Results suggested that prolonged exposure might damage carrots' physical properties. Batch-washing at five parts per million for 60 seconds showed similar results to plain water washing, urging further exploration for optimal concentrations.

Collaborative Research Insights

The research, conducted in collaboration with Ph.D. students and post-doctoral researchers, was partly supported by industry contributions. However, it should not be construed as product endorsement, and formal FDA review is pending.

Leveraging SGS Digicomply for Salmonella Incident Analysis

Using the Digicomply APP, we investigated the incident trend of Salmonella in Pet Food and Feed, noting a concerning trend. Since the outbreak in 2013, it appeared that the situation had stabilized. However, there is now an identified Salmonella outbreak that surpasses the 2013 outbreak in the number of incidents.

Salmonella Incidents in Pet Food

Over the last 3 years (from 2020 to 2023), the number of incidents has increased by 412%. Consequently, this demands manufacturers to adopt special safety protocols, explore, and implement tools such as SGS Digicomply to continue analyzing the situation and mitigate potential risks. Explore SGS Digicomply platform now.


In summary, the research conducted by the Arkansas Agricultural Experiment Station on ozonated water's efficacy in sanitizing raw vegetables for pet food processing underscored its variability in pathogen reduction across different vegetable surfaces. While ozonated water exhibited potential in mitigating cross-contamination risks in recirculating water systems, its effectiveness was influenced by factors such as application methods and vegetable types. Despite demonstrating promising results on some vegetable surfaces, achieving industry standards for pathogen reduction remained a challenge, emphasizing the persistent complexity in ensuring comprehensive pathogen control in raw pet food processing.

Tags: food safety, food regulations, food supply chain, dog food salmonella recall, food safety snapshot, salmonella, pet food and feed, Ozonated water, Pathogen


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