Tomatoes, Food, Water Quality & Ozone

The recent food scare, now being called the "Great Tomato Scare of 2008," appears to have been an outbreak of salmonella contamination caused by animal or human feces, whether the actual source was tomatoes or jalapeño peppers.

by Neil D. Berlant

The recent food scare, now being called the "Great Tomato Scare of 2008," appears to have been an outbreak of salmonella contamination caused by animal or human feces, whether the actual source was tomatoes or jalapeño peppers. What this shows, though, is how vulnerable we are to widespread contamination of our water and food supply. Both are items all people consume daily to stay alive that we take for granted.

In the USA, we have rigorous laws, regulations, and inspections by a variety of agencies, particularly the Food & Drug Administration and U.S. Department of Agriculture. In spite of this, we still have outbreaks of contaminated foods. The risks are even greater when you consider the numbers of imported food items. Contamination can come from a wide range of bacteria, molds and other organisms with the potential to cause serious illness, or even death.

Water is used for cleaning, cooling and as a component in many of the foods. Therefore, treating water before it's used is crucial. One process gaining traction as a consequence of these numerous contamination outbreaks is utilization of ozone as a disinfectant to cleanse vegetables and fruit before they're placed on the grocery store shelves and even in the rinse water sprayed over them before sale.

As an oxidizer, ozone is much more powerful than chlorine, the oxidizer most commonly used by food processors, and some 3,000 times faster at killing bacteria and other microbes. It's effective as a disinfectant at relatively low concentrations and doesn't leave toxic by-products similar to those from chlorination.

Regardless of what's eventually found to be responsible for the recent food contamination outbreak, one thing is clear – without proper cleaning, our food supply will be increasingly at risk. Fortunately, we have available to us ozone technology which is extremely effective at destroying these contaminants.

Ozone, like many other technologies, finds itself as a process used in conjunction with other water treatment processes which make up a system. Therefore, you often find the companies that offer, in this case, ozone equipment, are conglomerates that offer a variety of water treatment products and services. Among the companies that are candidates for investors to consider that participate in ozone, but by all means not a complete list, are Siemens, ITT and SUEZ. There are many others, but the important thing to consider is the growing importance of ozone in water treatment.


About the Author: Neil D. Berlant, a Los Angeles-based securities analyst with a lengthy history covering investment strategies in the water industry, is portfolio manager for the PFW Water Mutual Fund. Contact: 800-227-0319, neil.berlant@profitingfromwater.com or www.profitingfromwater.com

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