Cleanliness is incredibly important in the food business. No restaurant or food producer wants anyone to be harmed as a result of eating their products, so careful cleaning and food handling is a normal part of the daily work at Izzy’s. Unfortunately, in the past, to get dishes, mixers, and counter tops clean, it sometimes required some pretty heavy chemicals.
For instance, the standard ice cream equipment sanitizer packet comes with this warning:
DANGER KEEP OUT OF REACH OF CHILDREN. Highly corrosive. Causes irreversible eye damage. Causes burns to skin. Irritating to nose and throat. May be fatal if swallowed.
The stuff has a chemical rap sheet that makes you nervous about holding the packet in an ungloved hand. But to its chemical credit, if used correctly, it prevents the spread of foodborne illness. But it’s not stuff you’d want hanging around your house. And in a workplace that employs young adults or people who don’t tend to read directions thoroughly, using caustic chemicals can be a risk.
Chemicals can also leave a residue, and when you make enormous efforts to buy the best ingredients, having chemical residue on your beautiful product can literally leave a bad taste in your mouth. Who wants a scoop of rich Mexican chocolate ice cream with a hint of sodium dicholoro-s-triazinetrione dihydrate?
Of course, if there were an equivalently effective, safer, and less environmentally harmful option that didn’t cause irreversible eye damage and burns to skin, Izzy’s would use it. In fact, now we do.
Introducing Zap Water
We first heard about Zap Water when we read an article about the Seward Coop installing a new cleaning system that utilized Russian technology called electrochemical activation (ECA) that has been around for nearly two decades. It was almost too good to be true. And even now that we have a better understanding of it, really, it borders on miraculous.
In very simple terms, Zap Water is two solutions made on site at Izzy’s. One is a cleanser that replaces detergents, and the other is a sanitizer. The process takes place right at Izzy’s so there are no transportation or packaging costs—and no pollution is generated shipping a product to us.
The solutions are made by passing a simple salt water solution through a device about the size of a computer tower where a mild electrical charge is applied to it. The result is two colorless, nearly odorless solutions that are 99.7 percent water, and—from what we’ve seen in the store—almost magical.
The red bottle
We keep the sanitizer solution in a bottle with a large red circle on it labeled ANOLYTE: red=kills germs. Officially, the solution is called anolyte, a non-toxic, non-allergenic, and environmentally friendly super-saltwater. It’s safe for skin, eyes, lungs, or stomach, but it’s also a powerful broad spectrum antimicrobial solution, and it kills microorganisms fast.
In Russia, ECA has been used successfully in hospi-tals and health centers because it effectively kills the germs that cause flu, staph, norovirus, and TB. The solution is also effective against hepatitis A and removes salmonella from plastic surfaces.
Joellen Feirtag, an associate professor at the Department of Food Science and Nutrition at the University of Minnesota, has been experimenting with the technologies used to make Zap Water for six years. She says, “The results are phenomenal. It kills all bacteria and viruses. It even kills avian flu and anthrax spores.”
Feirtag has collaborated with Dave Schneider, President of Zap Water Technology since 2006, helping to get this technology into the marketplace.
Schneider installed our Zap Water system and stops by weekly to monitor our output. He speaks with the confidence and conviction of someone who knows they are onto something important. “He says there are so many reasons to use Zap Water, but the top five are as follows:
- It’s non-toxic to humans and animals.
- You can use it in food preparation because it is mostly water—there is no flavor and it leaves no residues.
- It’s easy and safe for employees to use, and requires little training.
- It can be easily installed on site, so you produce it on demand—it is not packaged or transported.
- Finally, your waste water is much cleaner. It cleans your sink and pipes on the way down the drain, and eventually turns back into brine.
The blue bottle
The other Zap Water solution is called catholyte and it goes in a bottle marked with a blue cir- cle. This is the cleanser solution and can be used on floors, sinks, refrigerators, dishes, and counter tops. It is safe for any food contact surfaces. There are no exposure limits, because there are no health hazards from this material. There is no emergency antidote, because it is so safe. There are no special trainings or certifications for employees to safely use it. Magical? Or miraculous? Or just really, really cool?
If Zap Water is so good, why isn’t it more widely used?
Dave Schneider talks to potential clients every day about Zap Water’s benefits, and his pitch is compelling. “From a pure economics standpoint, Zap Water is cheaper to use than chemicals,” he says. “It also saves money for clients who pay an environmental fee based on their pollution output.”
The list of attributes continues on, and it reads more like a wish list than a spec sheet:
- It’s more effective than chemicals at killing germs.
- It’s better at eliminating odors because it kills bacteria, rather than masking the smell with heavy fragrances—not something you want in food production.
- It leaves no residue.
Virtually every employee at Izzy’s who has used it has been amazed. But, Schneider says, “Some people are accustomed to chemicals. I had one potential client tell me that they understood all the benefits, but their company was comfortable using chemicals. So it takes people who are willing to try something different.”
Zap Water Fits With Making Great Ice Cream
Izzy’s exists to make great ice cream and frozen treats. When Izzy’s uses Zap Water or other innovations in the process of making ice cream, it is always because it contributes to this mission. Zap Water cleans more effectively, to prevent germs, and kill allergens—in essence, it helps us make great ice cream.
Izzy’s also believes in using creativity, innovation, and imagination to accomplish our goals. We will well- reasoned chances that fit with our mission. So we think hard about all of the elements of our business because our decisions on food quality and sanitation affect our product, our employees, our customers, and the restaurants and markets that sell our frozen treats. We are always conscious of what we are putting into our food, our store, our packaging, and ultimately, the environment we all share.
We are excited about Zap Water because it’s useful for our business, but we also hope that by adopting this technology we can help other businesses understand its benefits and encourage them to move to a system that is easier on the en- vironment and more effective in their workplaces.
We are always looking for ways to change for the better. So when we hear about new innovations related to ice cream or food in general or business, we listen closely. Let us know if you have any good ideas.