The Antibacterial Action of Cloths and Sanitizers and the Use of Environmental Alternatives in Food Industries

By Lalla, Fairuz; Dingle, Peter et al. | Journal of Environmental Health, December 2005 | Go to article overview

The Antibacterial Action of Cloths and Sanitizers and the Use of Environmental Alternatives in Food Industries


Lalla, Fairuz, Dingle, Peter, Cheong, Cedric, Journal of Environmental Health


Introduction

Cleaning cloths have been implicated in the spread of bacteria because they provide an ideal environment for bacteria to colonize and grow. When used on a food-contact surface, a cleaning cloth retains food particles that provide nutritional value to bacteria. The bacteria proliferate, resulting in higher concentrations on the cleaning cloth. The cloth then becomes a vehicle of bacterial transfer, either from cloth-to-surface or cloth-to-person, which may contaminate food and result in foodborne illness (Barker & Bloomfield, 2000).

In Australia, an estimated average of 4.2 million cases of foodborne illness occur each year with an estimated cost of over $2.6 billion annually (Food Standards Australia New Zealand, 2002). This situation necessitates the use of preventive sanitizing measures to ensure food hygiene.

The aim of food hygiene is the production and service of safe food. Potential sources of contamination are identified, remedial action can be taken, and the results of the action can be assessed (Angelillo, Viggiani, Greco, & Rito, 2001; McSwane & Linton, 2000). When food has caused food poisoning, it is appropriate to investigate the processing and handling of the product up to the point of consumption. The number of bacteria present and the effectiveness of the sanitizers used should also be assessed. The hygiene status of kitchen surfaces and equipment is an essential element in the production of high-quality, safe foods (Lalla & Dingle, 2004). Hygienic surfaces can be achieved only if the kitchen environment is kept clean and free of bacteria.

It is impossible to eliminate all bacteria from a kitchen environment because of the constant nutritional sources that are present. Bacterial concentrations should be minimized, however, and kept as low as possible so that they can cause neither infection nor harm to the personnel and the public.

A variety of generic sanitizers are used to control bacteriological hazards in the food industry. Quaternary ammonium compounds (QAC) have been predominantly used in the food industry because of their nontainting, noncorrosive, and nontoxic nature with respect to human skin and surfaces (Holah, Taylor, Dawson, & Hall, 2002; Langsrud & Sundheim, 1997). Some species of bacteria, however--namely Staphylococcus species--have shown resistance to QAC sanitizers. Hypochlorites are likely to be the most useful and inexpensive sanitizers for the food industry. They have little taste or smell and have a range of antibacterial activity that is not so limited as that of QAC disinfectants (Hayes, 1992).

The effectiveness of the chemical sanitizers depends on the time of contact, the temperature, and the concentration of the application. Many materials present in food industries have the ability to inactivate chemicals and thus create favorable conditions for bacterial growth. The inactivation of chemicals may occur if organic materials such as food prevent access of the chemical to the bacteria or if the chemical is not used at the recommended concentration. Continuous use of chemicals may lead to bacterial resistance, which allows bacterial growth on both the kitchen surfaces and the equipment (Holah et al., 2002). Therefore, environmentally conscious alternatives for sanitation are thought to reduce the risk of chemical inactivation, bacterial resistance, and chemical exposure to individuals.

The objectives of the study reported here were to monitor the bioburden of Staphylococcus aureus and Escherichia coli on cloths over time and to determine the effectiveness of environmentally conscious alternatives such as use of fiber cloths sanitized with hot water at 75[degrees]C in maintaining concentrations of bacteria on the cloths lower than those found on generic cloths sanitized with hot water at 75[degrees]C or chemical QAC and hypochlorite sanitizers.

Methods

Preparation of Bacterial Suspensions

Gram-positive Staphylococcus aureus ATCC 25923 bacteria were grown in 100 mL of brain heart infusion broth (Amyl Media Pty. …

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