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Use of sporicidal sanitizers on food contact surfaces

sporicidal sanitizer sanitation food contact surface food safety spores

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#1 ebb30

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Posted 19 July 2016 - 02:19 PM

Hi, I am looking to add a sporicidal sanitizer to our sanitation routine, and it has to be safe to use on food contact surfaces. Does anyone have any experience with this, or has a favorite product/brand? Any info would be greatly appreciated! Thanks!


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#2 GMO

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Posted 25 July 2016 - 08:25 AM

What are you looking to kill?  Mould spores?  Clostridia?


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#3 ebb30

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Posted 03 August 2016 - 06:44 PM

Sorry for the late reply, I was on vacation. 

 

We have high bacterial counts in various areas of the facility, even after I point the area out and it is thoroughly cleaned/sanitized. This leads me to believe that there is either established biofilm (our sanitizer is supposed to help remove that) or there are spores that are surviving the cleaning. I would like to start with the spores and see if there is a sanitizer I can use that is safe on food contact surfaces. Unfortunately I can't identify what the actual organisms are that are causing the high counts, which would make life much easier! 


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#4 GMO

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Posted 15 August 2016 - 10:36 AM

Sorry for the late reply, I was on vacation. 

 

We have high bacterial counts in various areas of the facility, even after I point the area out and it is thoroughly cleaned/sanitized. This leads me to believe that there is either established biofilm (our sanitizer is supposed to help remove that) or there are spores that are surviving the cleaning. I would like to start with the spores and see if there is a sanitizer I can use that is safe on food contact surfaces. Unfortunately I can't identify what the actual organisms are that are causing the high counts, which would make life much easier! 

 

My gut feel is that it's more likely to be ineffective cleaning than spores.  It might help to let us know what kind of product residue you have as that can have an impact.  

 

Without knowledge of the surfaces, product you're making or chemicals here is what I'd suggest:

 

Look at the cleaning now.  Are the team removing gross debris before starting?  Are they allowing the contact time they should with the detergent?  Are they putting in mechanical work to try and remove soiling (e.g. scrubbing).  Do they rinse effectively?  After the cleaning stage is there no visible debris remaining?  You can check for effective rinsing by using indicator paper if your detergent is alkaline.  Then when they apply the disinfectant, how is it applied?  Is it "sticking" to the surface effectively?  How long is the disinfectant given to act?  Is it left on (where allowed by legislation and guidance this is a good idea because otherwise the surface can become recontaminated).  How long after cleaning are swabs being taken?  Are they being taken on clean surfaces?  Is there anything which could be recontaminating it in the meantime?

 

If all of the above are ok, I would switch up the chemicals.  Some chemicals kill micro organisms more quickly than others and some in a different way.  Things like quaternary ammonium compounds (QACs or quats) are effective at killing bacteria but I think they work on the DNA of the bacterium.  Hypochlorite and peracetics work by oxidation so breaking apart cell walls etc.  Each are good and each have their downsides.  I would try switching up the detergent if you have concerns that fat removal may be an issue (as this can very effectively protect bacteria).  You can get specific fat removal chemicals.  I'd also change the disinfectant as a trial.  Sometimes anecdotally there has been a feel in the food industry that by switching disinfectants you can disrupt forming biofilms.  I've never had any hard evidence that this is true but certainly I've had good results by changing disinfectants in response to an issue.  It's always difficult to know whether it was the change that helped or the focus.

 

Last thing I'd suggest is check the cleanliness of your cleaning equipment.  It's surprisingly frequent that this is missed.


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#5 Charles.C

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Posted 16 August 2016 - 07:46 AM

Sorry for the late reply, I was on vacation. 

 

We have high bacterial counts in various areas of the facility, even after I point the area out and it is thoroughly cleaned/sanitized. This leads me to believe that there is either established biofilm (our sanitizer is supposed to help remove that) or there are spores that are surviving the cleaning. I would like to start with the spores and see if there is a sanitizer I can use that is safe on food contact surfaces. Unfortunately I can't identify what the actual organisms are that are causing the high counts, which would make life much easier! 

 

Hi ebb,

 

Unfortunately without more info any responses will be like spinning a roulette wheel.

 

Info needed is such as -

 

what do you mean by a high bac.count and sampled (multiply?) where/how/when ?

what is the type of  process/product ? Tables for production of baby's milk powder are unlikely to be numerically comparable to a slaughterhouse.

what is yr cleaning / sanitising process ?

 

i agree with GMO. Unless there is a specific product/process related reason, i would start worrying about spores after you have ruled out simple cleaning deficiencies and bacterial growth.


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Charles.C


#6 ebb30

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Posted 16 August 2016 - 03:58 PM

The facility is dry, and we do dry cleaning (we're essentially a bakery). The high counts are from swabbing and plating, so a basic Total Micro Count. There are definitely issues with the sanitation procedure that we're addressing. However, the sanitizer they use is one you spray on and leave to dry. It is mixed by a company to the correct dilution so there is no human error in diluting it wrong. It worries me that an area looks visibly clean (they have grease removers and other agents to clean belts for example) and is then sprayed down with a sanitizer, would still have high counts. I'm worried that there is an established spore forming colony where the bacteria are killed but the spores are surviving the cleaning. I read some interesting articles that say not to worry about rotating different sanitizers because there is no evidence of bacteria becoming resistant to them, but one in particular still recommended using a sporicidal occasionally as well to make sure nothing is surviving. I'm having a hard time finding a sporicidal, however, so I just wondered if anyone out there is using one. 

 

I will try to switch up the sanitizer because even though there is no scientific evidence that bacteria become resistent to sanitizers, they all still work in so many different ways that it just seems like good practice to rotate so nothing survives. I am currently fighting with our chemical supplier who is trying to tell me I don't need to switch anything, but as their customer I feel like they should just comply with my request. But then I'm a microbiologist and we always butt heads with chemists :-P 

 

Thank you for all your replies! 


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#7 Charles.C

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Posted 16 August 2016 - 04:21 PM

Hi ebb,

Thks for the comments.

Please supply some actual data as per my previous post unless it is confidential.


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Charles.C


#8 ebb30

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Posted 16 August 2016 - 05:07 PM

Hi ebb,

 

Unfortunately without more info any responses will be like spinning a roulette wheel.

 

Info needed is such as -

 

what do you mean by a high bac.count and sampled (multiply?) where/how/when ?

what is the type of  process/product ? Tables for production of baby's milk powder are unlikely to be numerically comparable to a slaughterhouse.

what is yr cleaning / sanitising process ?

 

i agree with GMO. Unless there is a specific product/process related reason, i would start worrying about spores after you have ruled out simple cleaning deficiencies and bacterial growth.

 

 

So high bacterial counts as compared to our own history in the facility and numbers I've seen us achieve in the past. Sampling is swabbing an area before production begins, a few hours after the sanitation crew has finished. The test is a total micro count. 

 

Process type is a dry facility, bakery setting. 

 

The process is to clean everything off with an air blower, rags soaked in sanitizer, some degreaser if needed etc. When the surface looks visibly clean, it is sprayed down with a liquid quaternary solution. This solution is pre diluted for us so it is at 200ppm always (we use a test strip to verify as well). 

 

Having a higher than normal count on a surface that was sanitized is concerning. As a reference, if I expect an area to have under 100cfu/g but comes back over 25000, and after we clean again it comes back at 2000+ I am concerned. I wonder what the bacteria are that are surviving and I make the assumption that it is something that is able to resist cleaning agents, mainly spores from spore forming bacteria. 


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#9 Charles.C

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Posted 16 August 2016 - 06:35 PM

Hi ebb,

Sorry but I don't quite understand yr data.

IMEX, Units and Guideline values for surfaces are typically expressed in Cfu/cm2. Please clarify.


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Charles.C


#10 ebb30

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Posted 16 August 2016 - 07:26 PM

Hi ebb,

Sorry but I don't quite understand yr data.

IMEX, Units and Guideline values for surfaces are typically expressed in Cfu/cm2. Please clarify.

 

sorry cfu/swab so cfu/100cm2 actually. 


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#11 Charles.C

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Posted 16 August 2016 - 08:37 PM

sorry cfu/swab so cfu/100cm2 actually. 

Having a higher than normal count on a surface that was sanitized is concerning. As a reference, if I expect an area to have under 100cfu/g but comes back over 25000, and after we clean again it comes back at 2000+ I am concerned. I wonder what the bacteria are that are surviving and I make the assumption that it is something that is able to resist cleaning agents, mainly spores from spore forming bacteria.

Hi ebb,

 

Thks for numbers.

 

i deduce you target a max. level of 100cfu /100cm2, ie 1cfu / cm2

 

IMEX this is an attainable but quite demanding expectation (see below). It's achievance surely relates to a variety of specific variables (see below).

 

From a survey/compilation of published global data posted elsewhere in this forum (prob.mainly wet scenarios) i concluded -

 

For Aerobic Plate Count (APC) - the majority of data suggests that, for routine cleaning/sanitising, surfaces typically have maximum APC counts in the range 10-100cfu/cm2

(there were some expectations both above and below this range, ideally should perhaps consider the "maximum" as an average of a series for a given "area").

http://www.ifsqn.com...ces/#entry60958

 

IMO the nature of the variability of initial surface condition / cleaning/sanitizing procedure / swabbing prodecure / analytical reproducibility of bacterial data (!!) almost guarantees large variations/confidence ranges in the APC data. This is further added/reflected by the considerably varying opinions as to desirable levels in the literature. Published acceptance levels typically allow for wide variations.

 

IMO a level of 25000 (ie 250cfu/cm2) would be a little high if consistently occurring but if a random result needs to be confirmed by, for example, repeating in duplicate/triplicate to assess the average/range. Trending is equally important IMO, eg where is the (hopefully satisfactory) baseline ?

 

From yr comment /10x reduction on "further"  cleaning  i would initially suspect that yr cleaning step is varying in efficiency for some reason (or the surface, or both). Poor cleaning will (obviously) increase the APC result for a given initial level of contamination of viable bacteria but will also likely interfere with the sanitizing step so further lifting the APC result. Comes back to setting the baseline, ie can it comply with max 1cfu/cm2 ?

 

Just some thoughts. My area of experience is mainly in wet processing where the problems are likely rather different.

 

Regarding types of bacteria, it is always possible to request lab data on some usual suspects, desirable in fact since APC is not considered a safety-related variable.


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Charles.C


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#12 ebb30

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Posted 17 August 2016 - 01:02 PM

Thanks for the reply. I wish  I could test to see what bacteria are left, I suggested a simple spore testing that our lab does but the answer from higher up is to just try cleaning it more and not worry about testing. That leaves me a little in the dark. I just wonder how if I directly spray down an area there are still so many survivors. We switched up our cleaner so hopefully that will help a bit too and are hiring two additional sanitation employees so they can do a more thorough job. There are sporicidals that are safe for food contact surfaces but need to be left on for 24-48 hours so I will try to find one and use it while we are still in our slow season. If I get drastic results I will post about it. If it's a matter of just cleaning better, hopefully the extra employees will address that. 

 

Thanks again. 


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#13 ebb30

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Posted 17 August 2016 - 01:23 PM

Also, should anyone come across this thread looking for the same things I was looking for, a good place to start is this link, it talks about the different types of sanitizers and what they can and can't do:

 

http://www.ncceh.ca/...rs_Aug_2011.pdf  

 

It's from 2011 so a bit older, but the information is still just as useful. 


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#14 Charles.C

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Posted 18 August 2016 - 04:34 AM

Thanks for the reply. I wish  I could test to see what bacteria are left, I suggested a simple spore testing that our lab does but the answer from higher up is to just try cleaning it more and not worry about testing. That leaves me a little in the dark. I just wonder how if I directly spray down an area there are still so many survivors. We switched up our cleaner so hopefully that will help a bit too and are hiring two additional sanitation employees so they can do a more thorough job. There are sporicidals that are safe for food contact surfaces but need to be left on for 24-48 hours so I will try to find one and use it while we are still in our slow season. If I get drastic results I will post about it. If it's a matter of just cleaning better, hopefully the extra employees will address that. 

 

Thanks again. 

Hi ebb,

 

Don't forget curiosity and the cat. I suspect you don't eat fresh salad vegetables too often. :smile:

 

My own suggestion is initially to not worry about the sanitizer and  -

 

(a) validate that yr swab technique/procedure is capable of giving "consistent' results. It likely will reveal large Coefficients of Variation in  repeated APC counts for a given surface / surface contamination. Especially at lower levels of APC.

 

(b) validate how effective/reproducible yr routine cleaning procedure is with respect to achieving yr targetted APC level for a representative surface/surface contamination.

 

This will require generating a reproducible surface / surface condition, a standard cleaning "Procedure",a few willing typical "cleaners".

 

Ideally this would be investigated via something like ANOVA but a simple set of 5 repeated tests should give some idea of the level of accuracy/variability. IMEX of bacterial investigations and typical cleaning people, the variability will probably be considerable and possibly depressing.

 

From memory, one anecdotal hospital rule-of-thumb is that, for a "typical" contaminated surface, a just cleaned (not yet sanitized) surface count should be at least one-tenth of the pre-cleaned level. "Sanitizers" in US are required I think to demonstrate a 5log reduction but that is probably in a controlled situation.

 

You can get some (non-micro) idea of the basic control difficulties involved by studying the legion of publications on validation methods for cleaning via ATP measurement. The advantage with ATP is that no external lab is required and experiment time is minimised. A good result does not necessarily prove microbial "cleanliness" but a bad one likely has some implications as far as cleaning is concerned.


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Charles.C


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#15 ebb30

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Posted 18 August 2016 - 01:23 PM

This is very helpful thank you! I am currently doing ATP of the same area and sending swabs off to the lab as sort of a validation, and for my own reference. They were doing ATP swabbing of areas to deem them clean, but the same area was never then checked with a swab. I hadn't thought about testing the surface and seeing if there is a good 5 log reduction, or even a 10 fold reduction pre and post cleaning (not sanitizing). I will do some mini experiments. And likely I will do 5 swabs of the same area but obviously not overlapping. I am now curious to see how close the numbers come out. We did end up with very high counts of yeast randomly so I am introducing a hydrogen peroxide based cleaner as a once per week thing, and that is effective against spores etc. but I do know that our cleaning crew is not quite doing the job they should so likely that is the source of my problems. Lots of work to do going forward. Thanks again!


Edited by Charles.C, 18 August 2016 - 01:32 PM.
not > now

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#16 Charles.C

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Posted 18 August 2016 - 02:23 PM

Hi ebb,

 

It is worth remembering that in many practical situations the microbial contribution to any total measured ATP result will likely be intrinsically much less than that due to any organic food residues. (procedures do exist to separate the contributions but IIRC are often not considered very satisfactory due the relative magnitudes of the 2 factors).

 

I've never used ATP myself but afaik, in general, the output data is expected to not linearly correlate with APC counts due above logic and other practical factors. There are published, documented exceptions but these seem (perhaps unfairly) to be regarded as "fortuitous".

 

I think an initially tricky problem will be to generate surfaces of equivalent "contamination". (Analogous to microbial challenge testing). IIRC, methods do exist to simulate such surfaces in publications comparing ATP sensitivities with other techniques (protein, DNA), eg by use of egg residues. Ideally it is obviously preferable to work with yr actual food scenario if possible. Trial and error maybe unless you already have related experience. Good Luck !


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#17 ebb30

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Posted 18 August 2016 - 06:52 PM

We only use ATP as a quick check after sanitation to make sure there isn't a large buildup of microbes. The numbers do not correspond to APC, however a number below 10 for ATP is acceptable, and I prove that by having less than 1000cfu/swab via micro. This doesn't always line up, but an ATP swab of less than 10 will never (in my experience at least) have a micro count of over 25000, so it is a good quick measure of cleanliness. Definitely not a linear correlation to APC, and not a substitution for micro testing! Just a quick 30 second test to make sure we didn't miss something. 


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#18 Charles.C

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Posted 18 August 2016 - 08:05 PM

We only use ATP as a quick check after sanitation to make sure there isn't a large buildup of microbes. The numbers do not correspond to APC, however a number below 10 for ATP is acceptable, and I prove that by having less than 1000cfu/swab via micro. This doesn't always line up, but an ATP swab of less than 10 will never (in my experience at least) have a micro count of over 25000, so it is a good quick measure of cleanliness. Definitely not a linear correlation to APC, and not a substitution for micro testing! Just a quick 30 second test to make sure we didn't miss something. 

 

Sounds like a useful empirical approach but application must be micro-limited by the basic meaning of the ATP result.

 

And, as per yr earler query, 25000 cfu of what ? Hence the further use of Sanitation indicators like Coliform, E.coli etc

 

Life in latter respect is much easier if you have an in-house micro.lab although this brings its own food safety headaches.


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Charles.C


#19 ebb30

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Posted 18 August 2016 - 08:50 PM

We don't have an onsite micro lab, and I'm glad! That's a different set of headaches! And yes the ATP is just for micro. and really just a general idea of cleanliness.  Allergens etc. we use other tests for. 


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