(June 24, 11:04 a.m.) Produce Safety & Security International, Inc., Irving, Texas, opened a new facility June 16 in Cincinnati, the first of four scheduled to open in Ohio. The company uses a Food & Drug Administration-approved ozone sanitation process that kills bacteria 3,500 times faster than chlorine.

Produce Safety & Security provides food safety services for fresh produce and meat. The company uses ozone sanitation to remove all opportunities for cross-contamination. The treated products are stamped with the “certified safe” label. The oxidation process leaves no residue and extends the shelf life of fresh produce by several days, said Clarence Karney, chairman and chief executive officer for Produce Safety & Security.

Produce Safety & Security also contracts a third-party chemical analysis to ensure the removal of E. coli, salmonella and listeria, common foodborne diseases. Produce Safety also offers a traceability program for its clients.

The FDA certified the oxidation process in 2001. While most grower-packers have a food safety program, most do not employ a third-party chemical analysis or employ a traceability program, said Karney, who has 55 years of experience in the industry.

Produce Safety & Security plans to have three to five of its own staff members supervising its Cincinnati facility in addition to service providers who are on a contract-labor basis. Karney said the most his company’s services could increase the price of fresh produce is 25 cents per unit.

“With that, you’d have a certifiable process, be able to reduce your liability costs on insurance, extend shelf life, and get a better return on product,” Karney said.

Because the oxidation process uses an oxidant and not a chemical, it is safe for city drainage systems, unlike chlorine-filled water. The process can be applied to produce at the packing site, in transit and at the store. It can take from 40 minutes to 80 minutes to certify an entire truckload of fresh produce, Karney said.

Ozone sanitation can also be done on trucks, at homes and in medical facilities. The company can install a unit in the cold room of a retail store and in misters that spray the leafy greens, Karney said.

Produce Safety has tested the effectiveness of the oxidation process on seafood. The seafood shelf-life increased three to six days, Karney said.

“And it has that same effect on fresh produce,” he said.

The ozone sanitation process is also safe for use on organic fruits and vegetables to give them the “certified safe food” label.