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One of the most effective ways to help ensure your facility is properly sanitized is by integrating microbiological decontamination. This technique uses chlorine dioxide gas to help remove all forms of microbial life that could threaten food safety – in turn, helping protect your products and facility.

It’s no surprise that food processing environments are susceptible to food safety threats, especially when it comes to pests. That’s because food processing facilities can offer everything pests need: food, moisture, shelter and comfortable temperatures. Traditional pest management typically deals with pests like insects and rodents; sanitation is an important part of controlling those pests. However, sanitation is also critical when it comes to managing microbial pests like Salmonella and Listeria, which can often be spread by insects and rodents.

These pathogens can be extremely dangerous and can result in foodborne illnesses, putting you and your company at risk of product recalls and damage to your brand’s reputation.

One way to help ensure your facility is rid of these small but dangerous threats is through microbiological decontamination. This decontamination process sterilizes a facility to remove contaminants such as bacteria, viruses, mold, fungi and spores .

Acceptance of the end product by consumers is a measure of supply chain performance and is based on a combination of key quality attributes as well as availability, price, and food safety. Optimisation of those parameters that drive added value can only be achieved through collaboration and appropriate coordination across the whole supply network.

Most importantly, this decontamination process uses chlorine dioxide—an EPA-registered gas in the U.S.— to eliminate all forms of microbial life.

This pure, dry gas doesn’t create acidic byproducts that can be corrosive. It can treat all areas – even penetrating the smallest microscopic scratches where pathogens could be harbored. In addition, the chlorine dioxide penetrates water and light food residues that microbial contaminates can thrive in.

 

How Microbiological Decontamination with Chlorine Dioxide Works

Chlorine dioxide is a gas, so it gradually fills any space – no matter how large, tall or filled with equipment – and sterilizes evenly and completely when correct concentrations are reached.

Once the area is sealed to keep the gas contained, the gas is produced outside the treatment space and then introduced through application lines. To ensure the treatment reaches the correct concentration for the right amount of time, the gas is monitored inside by a professional. Additionally, the outside of the treated area is monitored for safety.

And, since chlorine dioxide is water soluble, small amounts of water do not have to be completely dried after traditional washing and manual cleanings for the treatment to be effective.

 

Traditional Sanitation Methods

While many traditional sanitation methods and chemical options can clean and sanitize visible surfaces, corners, cracks and crevices are harder to reach and may not be completely cleaned and sterilized. It’s these areas that could contribute to contamination in your facility.

For example, when delicate equipment, electronics or even entire facilities potentially have microbial issues, wet cleaning may not be the best option. Aerosol treatments may be considered as a sanitizing or sterilizing option, but the aerosol droplets are often too large to penetrate and adequately contact those hard to reach places – especially in microscopic harborage areas – for the highest level of anti-microbial sterilization.

So the best way to achieve thorough penetration to help remove any microorganisms in question, is by using chlorine dioxide gas fumigation.

 

How to Safely Decontaminate

If you’re trying to decide whether microbiological decontamination is right for your facility, it’s important to work with a professional – from thinking through your decision to the actual treatment.

The key to decontaminating a space safely is to contain it within the area you are treating. This is done by:

  • Sealing all entry points, including:
    • Doors and windows
    • Utility lines leading into or out of the space (such as pipes)
    • Any other penetrations connecting the inside and outside
  • Shutting off HVAC systems

In addition to working with a professional to safely eliminate the presence of microbiological organisms, you can implement the following sanitation procedures:

  • Monitor Interior Problem Areas
    • As the saying goes, what’s on the inside really matters. This is true for the interior of your food processing facility, too. Through swabbing, constant sampling of areas (including inside processing equipment), and hazard analysis, you can start to pinpoint the “hot spots” of microbial issues.
  • Educate your Employees in the Fight Against Pathogens and Food–Borne Illnesses
    • Ensure that employees are following proper personal hygiene rules and anti-microbial processes are in place (like treated floor mats).
    • Your employees are often the first to notice any potential signs of existing problems, so it’s important to educate them to look for sanitation issues, and to clean areas properly and with the right products. Train employees to always document and communicate any issues that do arise to management.

The good news is that microbial issues have treatment options like sterilization fumigations. Chlorine dioxide can achieve successful sterilization and can be one tool to help protect your building and products from food safety threats. Consider contacting a professional provider about implementing the right microbiological decontamination treatment method for your facility.

 

The Orkin-GFSI Partnership

Orkin takes food safety seriously and strives to advance processes and treatments for the global supply chain. As a Diamond Sponsor of the GFSI Conference, Orkin is proud to partner with GFSI for the second year bringing to life food safety challenges and success stories from around the world with the GFSI Web Series.

This year’s GFSI Web Series will be released at the conference and will feature two of the 2018 GFSI Global Markets Awards winners and their stories on how the GFSI Global Markets Program helped them improve their food safety management systems

Want to find out more about Orkin’s partnership with GFSI and the ways we contribute to the global food safety conversation? Stop by booth 19-20 from Feb. 25 -28, 2019 to speak with an Orkin Pest Specialist.

We hope to meet you there!

 


This blog was written and contributed by:

 

Dan Ponton

Executive Vice President & General Manager
IFC and Orkin

 

 

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