Very early in my life, I was introduced to Electrochemically Activated Water through SAFIC (South African Fine Industrial Chemicals). Cyril Leibov and I developed a range of consumer chemicals with SAFIC which we took to the retail trade. The project was not successful but my introduction to ECA technology made a lasting impression on me. I am in Nigeria working on a meat project and in discussions about water, prompted by reading I did on Plasma Activated Water for a future project for a UK based company and while meeting with a water treatment engineer the topic of ECA came up. Still in South Africa, I came across this article, written in the Russian language. Using Google Translate, I did my best to translate it and paste it together again.
The technology is decidedly East European/ Russian and I am aware of very few researchers in the West who study its properties despite the fact that I know of a number of companies around the world offering ECA water as cleaning solutions.
The process is very simply described by the following diagram from Gluhchev, Georgi & Ignatov, Ignat & Karadzhov, Stoil & Miloshev, Georgi & Ivanov, Nikolay & Mosin, O.. (2015). Electrochemically Activated Water: Biophysical and Biological Effects of Anolyte and Catholyte Types of Water. European Journal of Molecular Biotechnology. 7. 12-26. 10.13187/ejmb.2015.7.12.
Below I give the fully translated article. I changed the language to convey what I thought was intended by the authors and since I do not speak the Russian language, if anyone come across mistakes that I made in my translation or interpretation and thus, inadvertently ascribed erroneous information to the authors, I offer my sincere apology and ask that you mail me with the corrections at firstname.lastname@example.org or WhatsApp me on +27 71 5453029.
Yakovenko NV, Komov IV Regional socio-economic-geographical systems: approaches to the definition // Network journal “Scientific result”. Series “Technologies of business and service”. – V.2, No. 1 (7), 2016.
INNOVATION IN FOOD PRODUCTION AND TRADE UDC 637.521:664.58664 DOI: 10.18413/2408-9346-2016-2-1-24-31
(1) Bal-Prilipko L.V., (2) Leonova B.I., (3) Naumenko L.V.
1) Dean of the Faculty of Food Technologies and Quality Management of Agricultural Products, Doctor of Technical Sciences, Professor. National University of Bioresources and Nature Management of Ukraine st. Colonel Potekhin, 16, Kiev, 03041, Ukraine. E-mail: email@example.com
2) Candidate of Technical Sciences, Assistant of the Department of Technology of Meat, Fish and Seafood National University of Bioresources and Nature Management of Ukraine st. Colonel Potekhin, 16, Kiev, 03041, Ukraine. E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
3) Master, National University of Bioresources and Nature Management of Ukraine st. Colonel Potekhin, 16, Kiev, 03041, Ukraine. E-mail: email@example.com
APPLICATION OF ACTIVATED WATER AS THE BASIC COMPONENT OF BRINES FOR MEAT PRODUCTS
The article presents the results of an analytical screening of the literature regarding the use of electrochemically activated water as the main component of brines in the production of meat products. Comparative analysis was carried out on the domestic and European requirements for the quality and safety of drinking water and the influence of water hardness, pH value and the redox potential of water on meat systems. Based on complex theoretical data, it is shown that the use of catholyte in the composition of brines eliminates the addition of chemical additives and components, improves the rheological properties of meat, makes the finished product environmentally safe with pronounced antioxidant properties. The electrochemical activation of water creates favourable conditions for its use in the meat industry.
Keywords: electrochemical activation, water hardness, pH value, ORP environment, antioxidants, metastable state, catholyte, anolyte, relaxation.
The article presents the results of an analytical screening of the literature regarding the use of electrochemically activated water as the main component of brines in the production of meat products. A comparison was made between domestic and European requirements for quality and safety of drinking water; it may have an influence on water-quality indicators such as water hardness, pH and redox potential in the meat system. Based on the comprehensive theoretical data it validates the use of the catholyte together with brines which has the potential to remove the need for certain chemical additives, improve the rheological properties of the meat, and makes the finished product environmentally safe with strong antioxidant properties. Electrochemical activation of water creates favourable conditions for its use in the meat industry.
Keywords: electrochemical activation, water hardness, active acidic pH, the redox potential of the environment, antioxidants, the metastable state, catholyte, anolyte, relaxation.
There is no question that water is an essential component of all food products. It influences quality, especially the consistency of water, moisture evaporation, hydrolytic and microbiological processes . Due to the physical interaction of the water and the dissociation of hydrogen and hydroxyl ions of proteins, polysaccharides, lipids, and salts have a significant effect on the structure of the meat products . The molecular weight of water is approximately equal to 18.02  and it can exist in three states: liquid, steam, and ice. The main physical and chemical properties of water at 20 °C [5, 6, 7] are given in Table 1. (see table in the original text given below)
Water has the most mysterious and bizarre properties in nature. It can be said that water obeys her own laws of physics. When cooled below +4o water expands, instead of contracting, as is typical of other substances in the transition from a liquid state to solid.
Water has a high surface tension, a dielectric constant, heat capacity and thermal conductivity. Modern science explains its uniqueness because water molecules have the property of uniting into complex polyassociative structures – clusters, which form hierarchical spatial liquid crystal structures which receive and store information.
To compare the requirements for indicators of quality and safety of drinking water of Ukrainian and European regulatory documents were analyzed and the results are presented in Table 2. (See table in the original text given below)
A feature of drinking quality standards of water, established by EU Directive No. 80/778, is the regulation of the values of the “maximum allowable concentration”. This group sets standards that should provide an increase in the level of drinking water safety and improve organoleptic characteristics, and which in the development of new improved water treatment systems and technical (analytical) quality controls should be seen as promising indicators of drinking water quality.
The analysis carried out showed a large discrepancy between Ukrainian and European standards, especially regarding water hardness. Having said this, it should be noted that hard water is one of the most important problems for the domestic meat industry. It has been shown that regularly consuming hard water, leads to a decrease in the functioning of the stomach, the accumulation of salts in the body, and, to joint disease (arthritis, polyarthritis) and the formation of stones in kidneys and bile ducts. On the other hand, very soft water can also negatively affect a person’s body by reducing bones calcium and removing minerals and bacteria from the digestive tract.
Thus, the optimal harness level of water has been established for drinking water as between 2 – 5 mg/L. Furthermore, for the business and for equipment, the use of hard water is associated with entails many negative consequences such as plaque formation on plumbing fixtures, water heater systems, fittings, and equipment. Hard water leads to an increase in the use of soap and detergents due to the presence of calcium and magnesium salts of fatty acids. Unfortunately, in the meat processing industry technology is lacking to soften hard water.
It was found that the pH of water impacts the water-binding capacity (WBC) of meat, the oxidation rate of myoglobin leading to altering the colour of meat products and other physicochemical and biochemical processes. The bright colour of salt-cured meat is dependent on the pH value, which in turn depends on the pH of the water and additives used in the preparation of the brine. To improve the colour of meat products it is necessary to create optimal oxidizing recovery conditions. To achieve desired results, the meat industry generally uses organic acids such as ascorbic, wine, dairy, lemon . The pH value of the meat system has a considerable influence on the rate of the nitrosation process and the level of residual nitrite in the product . When compiling protein-carbohydrate compositions to produce meat products, the pH of the water affects the nature of the protein-water interaction. It is known that alkalization of the environment increases the degree of hydration of proteins and increase water-binding and the emulsifying ability of the protein . In the meat industry, phosphates and their mixes are used for this purpose [11, 12, 13].
The German scientist, L. Leistner, the father of the theory of hurdle technology, used specific contributors to food quality, safety and to extend the shelf life of food, classifying ORP and the medium pH as two of his six major hurdles . According to theory, for any long shelf-life food product which remains safe to consume, multiple hurdles (factors) must exist to control the number of microorganisms in this product. So, for the product to remain safe, microorganisms present at the beginning of production, should not be able to overcome these barriers.
Usually, to change the pH and ORP of water various chemicals and additives are employed. There is, however, a growing interest in electrochemical activation, since its use allows the regulation of both these factors across a wide spectrum without introducing more and often unwanted chemical elements to the system to decrease the hardness of the water [17, 18, 19, 20, 21, 22, 23, 24].
The oxidation-reduction potential is a measure of the ability of chemical/biochemical systems to oxidize (lose electrons) or reduce (gain electrons) or the electron-acceptor or electron-donor properties of biological media regarding their own endogenous components and substances of exogenous origin. In other words, it characterizes the measure of electron activity of receiving electrons and is reduced or donating of electrons and is oxidised. In humans, ORP is in the range between -200 to +200 mV . Media with a positive ORP have electron-acceptor properties, and when ingested, it increases the oxidative load and leads to the disruption of peroxide homeostasis. Antioxidant substances have the ability to reduce ORP. In turn, such an ORP shift provides thermodynamic conditions for the transition of oxidized compounds to reducing forms .
In terms of the therapeutic effect of antioxidants, it blocks the formation of compounds such as oxidized fatty acids, peroxides, aldehydes, and ketones in the tissues of organisms [27, 28]. As a result, there is an enrichment of the total pool of recovered compounds in the body. As is well known, the natural antioxidant system of humans is a well-balanced antiradical chain of antioxidant agents that transfer protons and electrons from metabolites – participants in enzymatic oxidation of free radical compounds. ORP performs exactly this function of the regulation of the transport of protons and electrons.
Antioxidant properties are inherent in substances such as histamine, cysteine, arginine, glutathione, thiourea, glutamic acid, vitamins E, B, C and others. Glutathione is made up of residues of glycine, cysteine, and glutamine acids , present in plant tissues, microorganisms, and animals in both oxidized and restored forms. Arginine can actively absorb superoxide radicals  and manifests itself both at the beginning and in the development of the free radical chain oxidation. Vitamin C is characterized as having the ability to reverse oxidative damage through restorative transformations.
Regarding meat as a raw material to produce meat products, the effect of antioxidants is in the prevention of lipid oxidation which happens when divalent metal ions bind to meat and blood pigments. For this, the most widely used vitamins of group E, lemon, ascorbic, apple and amber acids , as well as propyl gallate, pyro- and tripolyphosphates, rosemary, soybean oil, cardamom, mustard, coriander, red pepper, and extracts obtained on their basis [31, 32]. Electrochemically activated water has a beneficial impact on the whole organism. Drinking water with a negative ORP is easily absorbed by the body, giving it its free charges, and thus stimulating physiological regenerative processes. As a result of electrochemical activation, water enters a metastable state, which is characterized by abnormal values of physical and chemical characteristics, including ORP, electrical conductivity, acid-base balance. Catholyte is light, alkaline, sometimes with white precipitate, water with a pH close to 10-11, and an ORP of equal to -200 to -800 mV; anolyte is brown, sour, with a characteristic smell, pH 4-5, and an ORP range of between +500 to +1100 mV [16, 17].
Important characteristics of activated solutions are pH and ORP, an inherent change of these characteristics over time (relax) even when there is a lack of mass exchange with the environment. That is, the anomaly of the solution disappears, and the water returns to its classic thermodynamic equilibrium. So it is advisable to use it immediately after electrochemical processing.
ORP of the water is less stable, unlike pH, especially related to the catholyte, and directly depends on external conditions (light, temperature, vessel material, surface area contact with air, etc.) .
In several works, it is noted that the catholyte in normal conditions and in a state of relative rest does not relax during the first two hours [33, 34]. To extend the relaxation time, the catholyte needs to be stored and transported in tightly closed and containers should be filled to the top with it. Subject to the data rules, it will not change its characteristics for 2-3 days. The anolyte can be stored in an open or closed container (except for copper) for a long time (weeks, months). It is important to remember that acceleration of relaxation is facilitated by mixing with air, spray overflow, a small volume of liquid . A key last role in this process is played by the mineralization of the original water. Freshwater anolyte loses its biocidal ability, unlike an anolyte of a concentrated solution. When mixing anolyte and catholyte in an equivalent ratio a non-activated solution is created, like the properties of hypochlorite .
Anolyte has enough strong oxidizing agents and free radicals, therefore, its solution becomes a strongly pronounced biocidal agent. Even if diluted in ordinary water with a concentration 1:40, it prevents the development of such microorganisms like Staphylococcus aureus, salmonella, E. coli; 1:8, mushrooms of the genus candida, etc. . Catholyte as a reducing agent due to its high adsorption chemical ability also has strong detergent properties. It is interesting that a catholyte with weakly expressed electron donor properties (ORP more than -400 mV) is ineffective, and a catholyte with excess electron-donor properties (ORP is less than – 400 mV) has an antimetabolic ability. It is known from research data  that in the case of ionizing radiation, catholyte manifests itself as an effective radioprotector, while the anolyte accelerates the course of the radiation diseases and enhances the lethal effects of radiation. No carcinogens are found in activated solutions, and it is not carcinogenic, and it has no allergic or toxic effect on the human body intravenous, intramuscular, intra-abdominal, subcutaneous, and orally administered. As noted earlier, the abnormal properties of electrochemically activated water create favourable prerequisites for its use catholyte in the production of meat products.
Analyzing data from the literature on the use of activated water in the meat industry, we can draw the following conclusions and assumptions:
– the use of electrochemical process activation makes it possible to regulate the pH and ORP in the meat systems, eliminate various chemical additives and components. It has great application in raw meat with signs of either PSE or DFD. In addition, the pH and ORP values systems affect the formation of colour;
– alkaline pH value of the catholyte has positive effects when used in protein-carbohydrate formulations in the composition of brines for meat products, as it contributes to an increase in the degree of hydration of protein particles, increases emulsifying and water-retaining protein ability. As a result, it eliminates the need to use phosphates and their mixtures.
– because of the decrease of water hardness in electroactive water and its highly toxic elements and heavy metals, it is important from an environmental safety perspective of the finished product.
– the product obtained by using the catholyte with an abnormally low-value ORP (up to -800 mV), possesses antioxidant properties that prevent and reduce lipid oxidation of meat raw materials.
– due to increased wettability and the dissolving power of the catholyte, the preparation of emulsions and brines are faster and more effective.
– due to the increased penetrating ability of the catholyte the salting process is sped up and salt cost reduced, even increasing the quality of the process itself.
– due to catholyte activation, the action of tissue enzymes on the tissue, the muscle structure is improved and the rheological properties of meat. The product becomes more juicy, tender, and fragrant.
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