Why Use Chlorine Dioxide?
Food safety remains a significant concern in food production facilities. For example, microbial contamination can create extensive downtime and product recalls can cost millions of dollars in revenue. While many chemical options can clean and sanitize, they often do not reach entire surfaces, such as corners, cracks, and scratches that can be harborage points for harmful microorganisms.
What is Chlorine Dioxide?
Chlorine dioxide (CD) is a sterilant gas registered by the EPA that effectively eliminates all forms of microbial life. This includes fungi, viruses, and all forms of bacteria including spores. It has been used in liquid form since the 1950’s as a water treatment for drinking water and since the 1980’s for numerous other decontamination applications. Chlorine dioxide is most often applied as a gas, and is compatible with electronics, plastics and other materials found in food production facilities. While chlorine dioxide gas does have an odor similar to a swimming pool, it is important to know that it does not contain any chlorine gas.
As a gas, chlorine dioxide cannot be compressed and stored, thus on-site generation is required. The process utilized by IFC controls the level and duration of gas production to effect a successful treatment and leaves zero hazardous by-products, allowing employees to return to production with no post-cleaning required. Chlorine dioxide penetrates microscopic scratches and crevices, and other pathogen harborage points that are difficult, if not impossible to reach using other application methods such as liquids and fogging. Chlorine dioxide remains active in water, does not hydrolyze, and therefore freshly cleaned and sanitized processing areas can be treated immediately.
How Are Chlorine Dioxide Treatments Completed?
On-site generation of the gas is introduced through application lines. Concentrations inside the treated space are monitored and recorded for efficacy and include gas concentrations, temperature, and relative humidity. Perimeter checks surrounding the treatment area are routinely monitored to assure the gas is contained and no leakage is detected to ensure safety.
Chloride dioxide gas is effective against any and all bacteria, bacterial spores, viruses, fungi, and molds, effectively destroying the DNA and therefore the microorganisms metabolic processes, rendering them unable to build-up resistance. Performance of sterile swabs before and after the treatment are tested by an accredited third party food safety lab and can assess the effectiveness of treatments. Placement of biological indicators throughout the treated areas are incubated post-treatment to confirm a 6-log kill.
Set up for treatment requires sealing the treatment area and utilizing an engineered configuration of application lines and fans to facilitate an even distribution of gas. Unlike other CD treatments, IFC does not require humidification or altering the temperature or relative humidity of the treatment area. Treatment times typically range from six to eight hours once the area is sealed. Gas concentrations and time (often referred to as concentration-time or CT) are actively measured during the treatment process to achieve values known to be effective against pathogens and other microbial threats. Upon cessation of the gas generation process, the gas aerates quickly allowing the facility to be up and running promptly with no post-cleaning necessary. Completion of most CD treatments takes less than one day. Chlorine dioxide sterilizes almost any size area including electrical junction boxes, tarped equipment, small rooms, spiral freezers and even large multi-million cubic foot processing facilities.
Above all, IFC’s knowledge and experience in food production plants assures regulatory compliance and the highest standards of safety.
Biological Efficacy of Chlorine Dioxide
Scientific studies of the effect of chlorine dioxide gas on several microbial organisms have confirmed its efficacy in complete elimination of all microbial life. Studies conducted by Montana State University Center for Biofilm Engineering have confirmed its ability to completely destroy biofilms. Below is a table of some of the more commonly seen microorganisms. For more information including scientific papers and other references, please contact IFC.
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