If a foodservice operation were to install a system that enabled it to turn water into wine, that would be considered a divine miracle that would have a profound effect on their bottom line. In that same vein, if a foodservice operation were to install a system that enabled it to convert water into a highly effective, safe, sustainable and green cleaning agent and sanitizer, that would be no miracle at all, but rather a sound scientific fact that would have a significant effect on their bottom line.

In fact, the basic technology for electrolyzed water or electro chemically activated (ECA) water has been around for 80 years. However, only recently has e-water, as the general category is referred to, become relevant in the U.S. Advances in the technology, improved efficiencies, the introduction of different capacity systems, purchase and lease options and and acceptance by regulatory authorities, is helping move this concept into mainstream thinking.

In fact, the 2013 FDA Model Food Code includes language that formally opens the door for e-water systems to be installed and utilized in foodservice operations. The food code allows for chemical sanitizers generated onsite and clears the way for E-water to be used washing, treating and processing fruits and vegetables onsite. Editions of the FDA Food Code prior to 2013 do not contain a reference to “on-site generated chemical sanitizers.”

In fact, statements issued by the FDA and the Chicago Department of Public Health accept the use of products produced with ECA technology, as long as the products comply with code requirements.

So what is e-water and how does it work?

E-water refers to the solutions that are created when soft water and salt are subjected to the electrolytic process, which involves running a negative charge or a positive charge through the solution of water and salt.

The positively charged solution produces hypochlorous acid (HOCI), which is a powerful sanitizer that kills microorganisms, such as pathogenic bacteria, fungi, spores and viruses. Hypochlorous acid can be used for sanitizing food-contact surfaces and, in a properly diluted solution, can be used as a vegetable and produce wash.

The negatively charged solution produces sodium hydroxide (NaOH), which is an effective alkaline cleaner and degreaser.  Sodium hydroxide can dissolve grease, oils, fats and protein-based deposits. It’s ideal for cleaning fryers.

The onsite ECA system typically produces the two solutions at the same time. Both products are nontoxic and many ECA systems have received various green certifications for their low impact on the environment and contribution to lowering a facility’s carbon footprint. Because the system is generating each of the solutions onsite, you’re able to generate the product on demand. The science of this process is proven and numerous case studies can be found in a variety of trade journals ranging from food safety publications, foodservice publications and facility maintenance trade publications.

Some of the benefits repeatedly cited include:

  • Reduction in the cost of cleaning and sanitizing supplies to pennies per gallon through onsite production.
  • Reduction in the number of products used for cleaning and sanitizing to two products.
  • Reducing employees’ exposure to potentially dangerous chemicals. A recent study of foodservice employee hazards showed one of the top four causes of restaurant worker injuries is splashes from grease or sanitizing chemicals.
  • Reduction in a facility’s carbon footprint by eliminating the need for bottles, cases or drums of chemicals to be delivered, thus eliminating the production of the chemicals, containers and fuel for delivery vehicles.

E-water isn’t miracle water, and an onsite system generating cleaning and sanitizing solutions may not be appropriate for every restaurant. Regardless of the manufacturer of an ECA system, the equipment will still need to be maintained and properly calibrated. The consistency of the product will depend on properly operating and monitoring the system.

However, there has been a significant leap forward in the reliability, practicality and affordability of these systems, which should encourage more foodservice operators to explore an ECA system as a viable alternative to the traditional approach to cleaning/ sanitizing.To learn more about e-water, visit www.pathosans.com andwww.ecologicsolutions.com.

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