Effectiveness of Electrolysed Water on Foodborne Pathogens

According to the Australian Institute of Food Safety, in Australia there are around 5.4 million cases of food poisoning each year resulting in an average of 120 deaths. 

In addition to this, “approximately 2.1 million days are taken off work due to food poisoning and 1.2 million doctor consultations take place with 300,000 antibiotic prescriptions issued”.

A recent report by the USDA (United States Department of Agriculture) evaluated the costs of various foodborne pathogens and the annual affect these had on the US economy. In the wake of that report, the Australian Institute of Food Safety assessed the top 10 costliest foodborne pathogens and their impact in Australia.

Electrolysed water works as an antimicrobial due to the varied pH levels and strong ORP readings.[1] ORP, or oxidation-reduction potential, refers to the tendency of a chemical substance to oxidize or reduce another chemical substance. Such a strong oxidation-reduction potential means that bacteria isn’t able to thrive and ultimately “leads to reduction of free radicals in biological systems”.[2]

This article will evaluate a select handful of the costliest foodborne pathogens highlighted by the Australian Institute of Food Safety and analyse the copious reports and scientific peer reviewed papers highlighting the efficacy of electrolysed water against the majority of foodborne pathogens.



“Salmonella is the clear leader in the costliest foodborne pathogens chart costing the US economy a whopping $3.7 billion a year. These costs arise from medical expenses, time away from work and costs associated with deaths. Australians also suffer greatly from salmonella related food poisoning with hospitalisation incidents due to Salmonella poisoning raising by 24% in the last decade.”[3] Just two weeks ago we reported on the salmonella outbreak in Northern Territory has affected approximately 80 people around Australia.

A scientific study published in Poultry Science has previously highlighted the efficacy of electrolyzed water in preventing salmonella contamination on produce. The study concluded that findings “clearly illustrate that EO water [electrolyzed water] is an effective antimicrobial for reducing foodborne pathogens in water and on cutting boards”.[4]



“Campylobacter hit the headlines in November last year when it was reported than over 70% of supermarket chickens in the UK contained dangerous levels of the bacterium. And with every Australian consuming approximately 43 kilograms of chicken per year, we're not immune. In fact, it's the second leading cause of food poisoning related hospitalisations in Australia after Salmonella.”[5]

A recent report, published in the International Journal of Food Microbiology, has ascertained that electrolyzed water “was very effective not only in reducing the populations of campylobacter jejuni on chicken, but also could prevent cross-contamination of processing environments”.[6] 


E. coli

“E.coli is a dangerous bacteria that can cause kidney failure and death, and is often ingested through undercooked meat products and raw milk. It can grow extremely quickly and 10 cells can become 100 million cells within 6 hours at the right temperature. It only takes just 10 cells to make someone sick. E. coli 0157 has been linked to the raw milk scandal in Victoria late last year when a young child died and several others became sick after drinking unpasteurised milk not intended for human consumption”.[7]

A study conducted by the Journal of Food Protection concluded that “findings suggest that electrolyzed acidic water could be useful in controlling pathogenic microorganisms [such as E.coli] on fresh produce”. 


 “With only around one thousandth of the reported cases of Salmonella, Listeria still proves to be a costly pathogen costing the US $2.8 billion per year. This is due to it's high fatality rate. In one Australian incident in 2013 a Listeria outbreak from contaminated cheese led to three fatalities and one miscarriage from just 26 reported cases. As well as the usual food poisoning symptoms of vomiting, diarrhoea and nausea, Listeria can cause severe reactions including septicaemia and meningitis”.[9]

A peer-review report published in Letters in Applied Microbiology analysed the efficacy of nautral electrolysed water against mico-organisms, particularly on fresh produce. The report discussion ended with the following statement,

“Findings of this study reveal that [electrolysed water] is an effective method to significantly reduce the presence of pathogenic micro-organisms like E. coli S. enteritidis [salmonella] and Listeria on the surfaces of [vegetables]”.[10] 

Futhermore, the report stipulated, “The sensory evaluation has demonstrated that after washing tomatoes with [electrolysed water], no significant difference in taste, appearance or smell was detected by panellists. Hence, besides the efficacy to control E. coli (both pathogenic and nonpathogenic stains), S. enteritidis [salmonella] and Listeria on surfaces, the treatment is not expected to affect consumer acceptance of the product”.[11]



Through evidence ascertained in scientific case studies and subsequent research papers, it is widely accepted that “electrolysed water is highly effective in reducing or eliminating foodborne pathogens on kitchen boards and various food products, such as fish, poultry, fruits and vegetables, on which it reduced populations of pathogens to undetectable levels”.[12]  

Whilst packaged chemicals have the ability to kill bacteria, there are many disadvantageous aspects to these products. The toxicity of many packaged chemicals result in damaging the integrity of the food and residual can render the products unsafe to consume. In addition to this, the hazardous nature of effective yet highly invasive chemicals presents difficulties of disposing and handling after applying them. 

As electrolysed water solutions are made through simple electrolysis using pure water and no added chemicals aside from salt they have a “less adverse impact on the environment”.[13][14] Because they are produced on-site, the emissions and resources needed to manufacture, package, ship and store traditional cleaners are eradicated. Additionally, many reports concluded “the use of [electrolysed water] does not result in changes in ingredients, texture, scent, flavor etc., which are brought about by [traditional packaged chemicals]”.[15]

With many positive and advantageous aspects, “The use of electrolysed water is an emerging technology with considerable potential”. The way of the future, which, if utilized effectively presents a novel and sustainable product with enormous potential.



[1] ORP, or oxidation-reduction potential, refers to the tendency of a chemical substance to oxidize or reduce another chemical substance. Oxidation is the loss of electrons by an atom, molecule, or ion.

[2] Al-Haq, M., Sugiyama, J., Isobe, S. (2005) “Applications of Electrolyzed Water in Agriculture & Food Industries”, Food Science and Technology Research, 11(2), 135-150

[3] https://www.foodsafety.com.au/blog/top-10-costliest-foodborne-pathogens

[4] http://ps.oxfordjournals.org/content/81/10/1598.full.pdf

[5] https://www.foodsafety.com.au/blog/top-10-costliest-foodborne-pathogens

[6] http://danolyte.com/pdf/allevamento_pollame_2.pdf

[7] https://www.foodsafety.com.au/blog/top-10-costliest-foodborne-pathogens

[8] http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/12696675

[9] https://www.foodsafety.com.au/blog/top-10-costliest-foodborne-pathogens

[10] The Society for Applied Microbiology, Letters in Applied Microbiology, 37, 482–487, doi:10.1046/j.1472-765X.2003.01433.x

[11] http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/store/10.1046/j.1472-765X.2003.01433.x/asset/j.1472-765X.2003.01433.x.pdf;jsessionid=1BCDFE2C2DA0294F25B5C0454AAE929F.f03t02?v=1&t=is9xn70v&s=dd11555657c45138c91744d3deb212a665434e1d&systemMessage=Wiley+Online+Library+will+be+unavailable+on+Saturday+3rd+September+2016+at+08.30+BST%2F+03%3A30+EDT%2F+15%3A30+SGT+for+5+hours+and+Sunday+4th+September+at+10%3A00+BST%2F+05%3A00+EST%2F+17%3A00+SGT+for+1+hour++for+essential+maintenance.+Apologies+for+the+inconvenience

[12] Al-Haq, M., Sugiyama, J., Isobe, S. (2005) “Applications of Electrolyzed Water in Agriculture & Food Industries”, Food Science and Technology Research, 11(2), 135-150

[13] Koseki, S., Fujiwara, K. and Itoh K. (2002). Decontamination effect of frozen acidic electric electrolyzed water on lettuce. J. Food Prot. 65, 411-414

[14] Kim, C., Hung, Y. and Brackett, R.E. (2000b). Roles of oxidation-reduction potential in electrolyzed oxidizing and chemically modified water for the inactivation of food-related pathogens. . J. Food Prot. 63, 19-24

[15] Al-Haq, M., Sugiyama, J., Isobe, S. (2005) “Applications of Electrolyzed Water in Agriculture & Food Industries”, Food Science and Technology Research, 11(2), 135-150