Four Ways Biofilm Impacts Operational Efficiency

Biofilm is a major concern to the food industry. Its invisibility and therefore lack of easy detection on food and non-food contact surfaces often leaves food processors uncertain over its presence or absence — especially when an unexpected microbial problem strikes an operation. Addressing microbial positives can be one of the most expensive events to affect a plant. These “all-hands-on-deck” events not only require a huge effort but are also extremely costly. Here are four ways that biofilm can impact an operation and your bottom line:

  1. Product Holds/Recalls
    Any time product is placed on hold or recalled from the market it directly impacts operational efficiency, as those products are not moving out the door as scheduled. Additionally, there is a cost associated with cold storage when a product must be held. Biofilm houses pathogenic foodborne pathogens like Listeria and E. coli, which leads to cross-contamination risks on final product, making biofilm control a key part of reducing recalls.
  2. Additional Sanitation Time/Resources
    Any time a microbial positive is found, labor — extra staff and overtime hours — and chemical must be spent to rectify the problem. This causes downstream ripple effects where sanitation tasks may not be completed elsewhere by the time production should start, potentially adding further risk for biofilm buildup and cross-contamination.
  3. Premature Equipment Wear and Failure
    Biofilm can damage equipment in two different ways: microbial-influenced corrosion (especially on soft metals) and attempted removal with oxidizer chemistry. Microbial-influenced corrosion (MIC) is corrosion affected by the presence or activity (or both) of microorganisms in biofilms on the surface of the corroding material. Attempting to treat biofilm with high doses of oxidizing chemistry — such as bleach, ozone or peroxide — can significantly damage surrounding surfaces.
  4. Heat Transfer Inefficiency
    Biofilm is an insulator and one that can exponentially decrease heat transfer efficiency through copper and aluminum. Heat transfer equipment must work drastically harder to remove the same amount of heat from the manufacturing processes. This shows up as higher utility bills and shorter equipment lifespans if it is run too hard for too long.

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As a leading expert in the control of biofilm, we have helped thousands of food facilities solve troublesome biofilm problems. Contact us today for a free biofilm consultation to help identify what to look for and how to treat the stubborn biofilm issues you may not even know you have.