Sterilix Corporation and an ARS researcher claim to have developed a 100 per cent effective disinfectant for removing biofilms containing Listeria monocytognes from meat processing facilities.
L. monocytognes can thrive on the work surfaces of meat processing plants because it can withstand low temperatures and can even grow in or on refrigerated foods. The hardy pathogen is also a serious public health problem.
According to the US Department of Agriculture (USDA), L. monocytognes causes serious illness in 2,500 people a year, resulting in 500 deaths.
To help companies fight the problem, Sterilex Corporation joined forces with Agriculture Research Service (ARS) microbiologist Judy Arnold. The collaboration has resulted in a new sanitising agent that combats L. monocytognes by attacking the biofilms that encase it.
Biofilms are layers of protein and polysaccharides that surround bacteria and stick to equipment surfaces. They trap pathogens and protect them from cleaning and sanitising products.
The new formulation developed by Arnold and Sterilex penetrates a biofilm, kills the microorganisms, and removes the biofilm. The disinfectant is based on alkaline peroxide and phase-transfer chemistry. Following the development phase it has undergone testing against other disinfectants for killing and removal of L. monocytognes.
“Results showed that the formulation was 100 percent effective, providing total kill and more than 90 percent biofilm removal,” said Arnold. “Test evaluations also resulted in instructions for use that will meet USDA ‘zero tolerance’ regulations for L. monocytogenes.”
Summing up the results, Arnold said: “This disinfectant is more effective than currently used disinfectants in reducing L. monocytogenes biofilm growth, thus minimizing the risk of pathogenic contamination.”
Biofilms have more opportunity than ever before to develop in meat and poultry, according to ARS. Despite increased concern over safety, modern production techniques and preservatives have resulted in additional contamination risks.
“Today’s longer production runs provide more opportunity for biofilms to establish themselves, and today’s longer shelf life adds to the risk of biological contamination,” Arnold.