Enough to kill COVID-19? Seafood company uses ionized hydrogen peroxide to keep food, workers safe

SAN FRANCISCO (KGO) -- The safety of food is a major concern as people worry about coronavirus infections. Just as we wipe down doorknobs and kitchen counters in our homes with antiseptic wipes, large-scale facilities are exploring new technologies. ABC7 News reporter David Louie shows us what a San Francisco seafood processor is doing.

Wipes, sprays, fogging. There are many options to try to sanitize or disinfect surfaces. But it can be a never-ending process that has to be repeated often, maybe not.

"We're looking at Mexican red group off a boat from Mexico." Fish buyer Robbie Mejares is proud of the fish he's able to source for sale to restaurants and more recently to home delivery customers in the Bay Area.

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Every day, fresh shipments of fish arrive at Aloha Seafood at the wharf. The pandemic triggered layoffs for more than half of the 44 employees as orders stopped coming in because its Michelin starred restaurant customers were forced to close. Mike Willing was worried for the health and safety of his team as virus infections rose.

But a system from Ohio's Extreme Microbial Technologies helped put his mind at ease.

"It's very important because as far as food safety, all it takes is one time for somebody to get sick, and our reputation is done" said Mike Willing, president & CEO of Aloha Seafood.

The system disperses billions of molecules of ionized hydrogen peroxide into the air, getting into nooks and crannies and sanitizing every surface, helping to kill pathogens that can contaminate food and make workers ill. It keeps food processing facilities, schools and hospitals

"Contaminants come in with people, products and processes continuously, so it's not a matter of just wiping down a surface or coming in and spraying or fogging," said Randy Mount, CEO of Extreme Microbial Technologies.

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The ionized hydrogen peroxide is released continuously to provide around the clock protection at safe levels.

"We're 50 times lower than any EPA or OSHA acceptance the levels that we put out in an ionized state, so it's very safe," Mount said.

While its effectiveness against COVID-19 is still being evaluated, Aloha Seafood and others claim they have seen employee illness drop by as much as 90%. Workers say the air smells fresh, and they no longer get complaints that they smell fishy when they go home.

"I'm happy to have it," said Aloha Seafood co-founder Mitch Gronner. "I have it's just another level of protection, probably the best level of protection during these times."

ABC7 News reached out to county health officials to see what they know about ionized hydrogen peroxide, but we have not heard back by deadline.

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