All posts by: Sterilex

About Sterilex

The Crossroads Charter
School Science Fair

Sterilex recognizes the importance of attracting and cultivating students in science, engineering, technology, and math (STEM) programs. To succeed in these fields, students must be prepared with the appropriate skills. More importantly, students must be captivated by math and science. The best way to achieve this is by engaging students early in their school years and keeping them engaged throughout their education. Such students will be the innovative scientists of the future for academia and businesses like Sterilex.

As part of addressing this vision, Sterilex was pleased to partner with the Crossroads’ first-ever Science Fair where eighth grade students presented projects that incorporated the skills they learned throughout their 3 years at Crossroads. Completion of a Science Fair project was an eighth grade graduation requirement.

As a prelude to the Science Fair and to help motivate the students, the Sterilex R&D team conducted demonstrations of science experiments for both 8th grade classes about a month before the Science Fair. The R&D team set up 5 different chemistry stations and taught the kids the science behind each of the experiments. It was clear that the students were fascinated by the experiments and each of the R&D mentors related exceptionally well with all the kids.

The Sterilex team met the students once again as judges of the Crossroads Science Fair on May 3. The students were required to create either an engineering design or an experiment to present at the fair. The projects were presented on poster boards containing important information about their design, experiment, or model and each student walked the Sterilex judges through their presentation.

Selecting winners of the Science Fair was difficult. All of the students did an awesome job. However, 2 young female students’ projects rose to the top. One project was an experimental study topic and the other an engineering topic.

The experimental study winner evaluated whether men or women have a better memory. The engineering study winner developed prototype devices to help clean up trash in the Chesapeake Bay. Each had well thought out and organized presentations and both were articulate, confident, and enthusiastic about their projects. Sterilex looks forward to the possibility of seeing these young ladies as future scientists/engineers at its company!

Poultry Biosecurity Improvements for AI Control

Stop Avian InfluenzaWe are well into the fall season, and after last week’s confirmation of H5N2 Low Pathogenic Avian Influenza in Minnesota now is a great time to assess and update your biosecurity program. Biosecurity is a series of management practices designed to prevent the introduction and spread of disease pathogens. Each piece of the program is important, and your defense against disease is only as strong as the weakest link.

Are you utilizing an effective entry-way pathogen control system at your Line of Separation? Foot pans containing an EPA registered disinfectant or sanitizer can be extremely effective if managed and monitored correctly. Are you able to verify the concentration of your chemical sanitizer or disinfectant? How frequently does it need to be replaced or replenished? Is it EPA registered and proven to kill the pathogens you are attempting to control? These are important considerations for ensuring each tool you use in your program is having the best impact possible for reducing cross-contamination and spread of disease.

Have you considered water quality and the water delivery system at your facility? Waterlines are an excellent harborage area for disease-causing pathogens. Supplements, water acidifiers, and medications are commonly administered via waterlines and can provide an ideal environment for mold, algae, bacteria and/or biofilm formation. A water testing and treatment program utilized in conjunction with line disinfection or sanitization between flocks can have a major impact on reducing contamination and disease in your facility. Again, utilizing products with EPA approved claims against relevant pathogens and biofilm* will offer the best protection.

Each piece of the program is important, and the success of the program relies on the weakest link. Annual biosecurity program assessment and updating based on new information, industry tools and technology is the best practice for ensuring a safe and sustainable facility, industry and food supply. For more information, visit

*Biofilm label claims approved for specific applications only. See product label for full label claims and usage instructions.


Interpreting an EPA Label: Sanitizer vs Disinfectant

Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), regulates all antimicrobial product labels and any associated efficacy claims. The language and claims contained on each label must be supported with extensive scientific data that is submitted to EPA in the pesticide registration approval process. These labels govern usage rates, applications and directions for use. End users of chemicals must ensure compliance with the label and should understand the meaning behind differing label claims. This is the first in a series of posts that will look at EPA label language and what it means to the end-user.

The words sanitizer and disinfectant are often used interchangeably in the food processing industry. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), however, has distinct definitions for each term.

Sanitizer: a substance, or mixture of substances, that reduces the bacteria population in the inanimate environment by significant numbers, but does not destroy or eliminate all bacteria.

Disinfectant: a substance or mixture of substances, that destroys or irreversibly inactivates bacteria, fungi, and viruses, but not necessarily bacterial spores, in the inanimate environment.

Source: EPA Website, 40 CFR 158.2203

Definitions in Practice
For commercial products, this simply means that disinfectants provide a higher level of demonstrable microbial load reduction than sanitizers. Product performance guidelines are outlined by EPA in Product Performance Test Guidelines OCSPP 810.2300 (sanitization) and OCSPP 810.2200 (disinfection). These guidelines are summarized in Table 1, with minimum surface contact times indicated in parentheses.

  Sanitizer Disinfectant
Microbial Load Reduction:
Non-Food Contact Surfaces
3 log
99.9% (5 min)
6 log
99.9999% (10 min)
Microbial Load Reduction:
Food Contact Surfaces
5 log
99.999% (30 sec)
6 log
99.9999% (10min)
Fungi & Viral Control NO YES

On the Label
In some instances, the same product can be both a sanitizer and a disinfectant when used at different concentrations, or on a different surface, or with longer surface contact time. Sterilex® Ultra Disinfectant Cleaner Solution 1 is an example of this type of product when used with Sterilex® Ultra Activator Solution.

The label for Sterilex Ultra Disinfectant Cleaner Solution 1 (EPA Reg. No. 63761-8, accepted 9/22/16), contains a claim that allows the product to be used as both a rinsed disinfectant on food contact surfaces, and as a non-rinsed surface sanitizer on non-food contact surfaces. This section of the label is highlighted below.

DISINFECTION AND NON-FOOD CONTACT SURFACE SANITIZATION OF FOOD PROCESSING EQUIPMENT AND HARD SURFACES IN FOOD PROCESSING FACILITIES: Apply Sterilex Ultra Disinfectant Cleaner Solution 1 and Sterilex Ultra Activator Solution as a disinfectant, per General One Step Disinfection and Cleaning Directions, or as a sanitizer, per General Sanitization Directions. Use product within 8 hours of mixing Sterilex Ultra Disinfectant Cleaner Solution 1 and Sterilex Ultra Activator Solution.

“Disinfection” and “non-food contact surface sanitization” are separate statements and claims, an important differentiation. Per Food and Drug Administration (FDA) requirements, a no-rinse sanitizer must be used on food contact surfaces as the final step prior to production. For this reason, Sterilex specifically differentiates between disinfection claims (followed by a rinse) on food contact surfaces, and non-rinsed surface sanitization claims for non-food contact surfaces.

Therefore, on food contact surfaces, this product has demonstrated an ability to kill ≥ 6 logs of the organisms on its label on food contact surfaces, whereas products marketed as sanitizers on food contact surfaces have demonstrated an ability to kill at least 5 logs of the organisms on their label on food contact surfaces.
Please see the product label for complete directions for use.

Both EPA registered sanitizers and disinfectants can effectively reduce or remove bacterial load from surfaces in food processing facilities. However, when used in accordance with the label, disinfectants offer processing facilities a more complete inactivation/removal of microbial load than sanitizers.

See product label for full label claims and usage instructions.

Frozen doesn’t mean Listeria – Free

The food industry has been increasingly focused on a risk-based approach to food safety. Control of Listeria specifically, is always at the top of every list, as it poses the largest threat. “The pathogen’s recent influx in a variety of fresh, frozen and processed foods is reinforcing the importance of understanding how contamination occurs in processing plants.” (Mackin, 2018).

While most frozen foods are meant to be cooked, it is not uncommon for the average consumer to use frozen fruit and vegetable products in cold salads, and other prepared foods consumed without cooking first. Benjamin Chapman, a food-safety specialist and an associate professor at North Carolina State University noted, “Though eating raw, frozen vegetables may sound unusual, frozen kale, for example, is increasingly being used in smoothies. And it’s not uncommon for pediatricians to recommend letting young children chew and suck on frozen veggies while teething.” (quoted in Miller, 2016). Chapman went on to clarify that although freezing may stop Listeria growth, it doesn’t necessarily kill the organism (Miller, 2016).

As frozen food processors evaluate risk, and implement changes, the freezers themselves present unique challenges:

  • Design- there are many areas of freezers that are difficult to reach or are inaccessible. Due to the size of the units, they cannot be disassembled completely for a thorough cleaning. Freezer coils tend to be difficult to reach, difficult to clean, and expensive to replace if damaged.
  • Compatibility- Many freezers are made of metals such as aluminum that can be easily damaged by common products used for cleaning and sanitizing. As the damage occurs, it creates even more harborage points for microorganisms and additional cost for the processor.
  • Temperature- As the freezer is defrosted for thorough cleaning, the warmer temperatures allow existing Listeria to grow. The condensation created from the thaw can also contaminate other surrounding surfaces.

How can this be addressed? The industry is working toward better equipment design, not just for freezers, but for all equipment used in food manufacturing.
Additionally, the industry has recognized the need for cleaning and sanitizing chemicals that are effective in addressing the shortcomings of current equipment design, and products that are compatible with aluminum and other soft metals.

Sterilex Ultra Disinfectant Cleaner Solution 1 and Ultra Soft Metal Activator is a disinfection chemistry specifically designed to kill specific organisms such as Listeria as well as remove biofilm* on aluminum surfaces. It can be used to safely disinfect freezer surfaces while moving into inaccessible areas where biofilms are harbored.

Miller, Sara G. “Listeria in Your Freezer: How Long the Bacteria Survive.” LiveScience, Purch, 25 May 2016,

Mackin, Kelsey M. “South Dakota scientists target Listeria in food processing plants.” Food Safety News, 14 Feb 2018,

*Biofilm label claims approved for specific applications only. See product label for full label claims and usage instructions.

Clean Surfaces Provide ROI for Dairy Producers

Whether dairy producers are raising their own calves, or contract raising for others, animal health is a top priority. Healthy calves lead to lower veterinary and death loss expenses, and ensure that a viable replacement heifer is entering the herd.

Part of raising healthy calves is maintaining a healthy environment, and feed sources that are free from pathogens that cause illness. A recent article published in Hoard’s Dairyman highlighted the risks of biofilm growth in calf feeding equipment.¹ When bacteria form a biofilm, they become resistant to many of the common methods used for sanitizing calf equipment, such as bleach dips. The surviving bacteria, harbored in a biofilm can then lead to an increase in scour days, reduced growth efficiency, and sometimes death.

Sterilex’s proprietary PerQuat® technology was specifically designed to break-up bacterial biofilm and kill resistant micro-organisms.* Sterilex is the only company with products approved to remove biofilm on both public health and industrial surfaces.* Sterilex’s patented line of products can also be used to disinfect hard surfaces such as calf huts and feeding equipment to aid in reduction of illness and disease transfer.

*Biofilm label claims are approved for specific applications only. See product label for full label claims and usage instructions.
1. Seiler, Maggie. “Break away from biofilm contamination.” Dairyman, 31 July 2017. Web. 8 August 2017

FDA perspective on “Seek and Destroy”

The development and implementation of the Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA) signals a concerted effort to improve food safety in FDA inspected plants, and implement some of the same structure and oversight as seen in USDA inspected facilities.

In January of 2017, the FDA released an updated guidance document outlining their guidelines for Listeria control in ready-to-eat (RTE) food processing facilities. This new document “supports ongoing efforts by industry and government agencies to reduce the risk of Listeria monocytogenes (L. mono) in RTE foods. L. mono, a pathogen that can grow even in cold, refrigerated environments, is particularly harmful to the elderly, pregnant women and/or their pregnancy, and those who are immunocompromised.” [1]

The document, meant to expand upon the requirements for management of risk, and development of preventative controls outlined in FSMA, covers risk analysis and encourages food processors to expand their environmental monitoring programs. “Industry best practices and the “seek and destroy” approach used by the Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) of the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) have been incorporated into the draft guidance.” [1]

Adam Borger of the University of Wisconsin-Madison Food Research Institute, spoke of the new guidance, saying, “I am a proponent of what the FDA is recommending in their draft guidance regarding sampling of food-contact surfaces for Listeria genus.  I feel that giving food processors the ability to sample food-contact surfaces for Listeria genus without absolutely having to place all product on hold until the result is returned, will encourage a more aggressive sampling plan to find and eliminate Listeria and niches where the microbe may persist.” [2]

Multiple tools can be used in a robust environmental monitoring program. Technologies such as Sterilex’s Indicon™ Gel can be used to rapidly detect biofilm harborage niches and track sources of contamination in seek and destroy applications. While traditional swabbing methods can be used to verify the absence of organisms on a “swab-able” surface, Indicon Gel can be used to identify harborage points in areas only a gel can reach, and provide rapid, visual results in a cost-effective manner*.

  2. Borger, Adam C. University of Wisconsin-Madison, Food Research Institute. 26 May 2017

*The lack of a positive reaction from Indicon Gel does not guarantee that the surface is free from microorganisms.  Indicon Gel is not meant to take the place of routine microbial monitoring or organism-specific diagnostic tests.

Sterilex Technology and Aiding the Prevention of Avian Influenza Outbreaks

This week the United States Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) confirmed the presence of highly pathogenic H7 avian influenza in a commercial chicken breeder flock in Lincoln County, Tennessee.

Using Sterilex® Ultra Disinfectant Cleaner Solution 1 and Sterilex® Ultra Activator or Ultra Soft Metal Activator, effectively controls Avian Influenza (AI), multiple strains of Salmonella as well as numerous additional poultry and swine pathogens.  In waterlines, it can be used for line disinfection and the removal of organic contaminants. The two-part solution is mixed, diluted in water, pumped into the nipple drinker lines to soak, and then flushed with potable water between flocks. This process creates a cleaner, safer water source and limits the risk of AI spreading between flocks.
Sterilex Ultra Disinfectant Cleaner Solution 1 and Sterilex Ultra Activator Solution, or Ultra Soft Metal Activator, can also be used inside barns to disinfect between flocks. Following the removal of gross soils from the barn, the two-part solution is mixed, diluted in water, and either foamed or sprayed on surfaces.

For additional biosecurity solutions, Sterilex offers Sterilex® Ultra Step.  This non-slip blue powder is an EPA-registered floor surface, floor mat, foot pan and boot sanitizer approved to kill organisms such as Listeria, Escherichia coli (E.coli), Salmonella, Staphylococcus (Staph), and Enterobacter. Used in entryways, Sterilex Ultra Step can also control organism transfer from foot traffic and equipment movement. Apply directly to floors in barns and hatcheries to prevent the spread of harmful pathogens.

Visit  for more information about using Sterilex products to enhance biosecurity programs.


Sterilex and FSMA Compliance

As of Sept 2016, FSMA, the Food Safety Modernization Act is in full effect. For food manufacturers, the implications of reaching compliance, are immense. One of the key components of compliance is the requirement for preventative controls. Although this is a broad topic, it can be summarized in three sections, Hazard Analysis, development of preventative controls, and finally management of the preventative control protocols that have been created [1].

The process of implementing preventative controls begins with determining what potential hazards exist in the processing environment, or are created by the actual process. The FDA draws no distinction between hazards that are introduced intentionally and those that are naturally occurring. For example, Listeria contamination due to the natural soil residue on incoming produce would still be considered a hazard that must be noted and addressed. From a sanitation perspective, limiting pathogen movement and recognizing pathogen harborage points in the processing environment are essential.

After processors know where hazards exist, they must create a written food safety plan for addressing all the hazards [2]. That plan, must then be managed as new hazards are presented, or the process changes. A critical part of the creation and implementation of preventative controls is verification. This includes, “Validating with scientific evidence that a preventive control is capable of effectively controlling an identified hazard.” [1].

In identifying the proper controls to put in place, manufacturers must identify adequate chemical interventions to address hazards in the processing environment. Sterilex offers a full line of EPA registered sanitizers and disinfectants that are proven to be effective in removing biofilms, which are a hazard created by harborage points on equipment or in the environment. EPA registered sanitizers such as Sterilex Ultra Step, go through exhaustive testing that meets the demand for “scientific evidence” of the capability to control organisms such as Listeria, Salmonella, and E. coli. As an EPA registered sanitizer Ultra Step is legally approved to be included in the processor’s food safety plan. As processors and sanitation experts collaborate to meet the preventative control requirements of FSMA, the Sterilex product line provides much needed solutions.


2016 Listeria Recalls Higher Than Past Three Years

Food product recalls due to Listeria contamination continue to capture the attention of processors, regulators, and especially, consumers.  According to the USDA’s Food Safety and Inspection Service, the number of Listeria-related recalls for 2016 were more than those reported for the past three years.

listeriarecallMeat processors today are experiencing great success with controlling pathogens on incoming products.  However, with value-added goods in high demand, risk for contamination increases as more surfaces, equipment and hands come in contact with food product throughout the process. Food processors must remain vigilant with best practice sanitation programs in place to address the introduction, growth and transfer of pathogens in the processing environment.  As the FDA intensifies pressure, in an effort to catch-up to FSIS protocols, some processors are searching for new ways to meet regulatory expectations for prevention of Listeria.  One idea calls for greater information share in the ongoing battle to control and eliminate Listeria.

Mitigation of Listeria requires removal of biofilm and subsequent prevention and control afterwards in food production environments. The most effective preventative control programs develop a holistic approach, looking at all areas that contribute to transfer and movement of pathogens such as foot traffic and shared equipment.

Sterilex® Ultra Powder has been designed as a unique EPA-registered floor sanitizer for use in food processing and animal environments, and is now the leading product in this market segment.   This innovative product utilizes Sterilex proprietary PerQuat® technology, and incorporates unique features such as small, non-slip granules that plant workers can broadcast directly on plant floors to sanitize and enhance traction.

What additional information is available?

For more on this topic, read the in-depth article in the October issue of Meatingplace.

To learn more about Sterilex products and how they address the challenges that food processors face today visit

Farms and Food

Historically, food processing and live production have functioned as separate industries with different needs, requirements, and management. That is no longer the case. The gap between farm and food is closing—meaning that many food processing facilities (including egg graders, egg processors and poultry meat processors) are owned, managed, or have direct oversight from the same companies. In some cases, they may even share the same grounds. While this solves many management and logistical problems, it also requires careful consideration of best practices for keeping food free of disease-causing organisms, and limiting disease transfer among production animals.

The risk of transfer

chickens-waterline-animal-healthProximity to farms introduces a number of risk factors for introduction of pathogens to processing environments. Whenever animal enclosures are present, anyone handling animals or coming into contact with animal waste can introduce microorganisms into processing environments by exchanging items between farm and processor. In addition, the movement of containers, transport vehicles, and employees between the processor and the individual barns can result in the rapid spread of transmittable diseases, affecting the animal populations. Through the exchange of farm and processing equipment, a single infected barn can result in the loss of all production animals housed on the grounds regardless of separate housing. Live production facilities can introduce disease to otherwise healthy incoming animals as well. Improper disinfection and insufficient biosecurity intervention between animal groups can result in transfer of disease through waterlines, feeding equipment, and general barn surfaces. Once introduced by even a single infected animal, these microorganisms can become a major problem—especially if they spread to other areas of the farm, or neighboring farms via feed trucks, suppliers, employees or any other traffic. With recent outbreaks of diseases such as Avian Influenza becoming both a high-profile issue and a very real threat (an AI outbreak can wipe out an entire flock very quickly, with devastating consequences to the farm’s business), farms with onsite processing facilities will want to take extra care to prevent the spread of microorganisms.

To prevent the spread of pathogens from farm-to-farm or from a farm-to-processing environment, the USDA recommends a number of common-sense biosecurity practices that include isolating flocks from each other and from unnecessary human contact, watching for early warning signs of disease and keeping cages, vehicles, tools and equipment clean. Recommended biosecurity programs include entryway control for human foot traffic (through use of an approved EPA registered sanitizer), physical barriers on the grounds to limit and direct the movement of employees and vehicles, truck washes for incoming vehicles, and the development of detailed cleaning and disinfection protocols for pre-population barn preparation. The benefits of adopting these practices are enormous. Less risk to animals and food products not only preserves the assets that keep farms and processing facilities running, it maintains positive public perception among consumers who care about animal health and welfare as well as having a safe and healthy food supply.

What products are available and how are they used?

Live production facilities will want to take particular care to treat high-risk locations and systems: the insides of barns and waterlines and the entryways to barns and processing facilities.

Sterilex® Ultra Disinfectant Cleaner and Activator Solution is based on Sterilex proprietary PerQuat® technology, and is effective in killing Avian Influenza (AI), multiple strains of Salmonella as well as numerous additional poultry and swine pathogens. In waterlines, it can be used for line disinfection and the removal of organic contaminants. The two-part solution is mixed, diluted in water, pumped into the nipple drinker lines to soak, and then flushed with potable water between flocks. This process creates a cleaner, safer water source and limits the risk of AI spreading between flocks. In addition, clean waterlines support better water quality, better water intake, and as a result, better animal growth, and overall animal health.

Sterilex® Ultra Disinfectant Cleaner and Activator Solution can also be used inside barns to disinfect between flocks. Following the removal of gross soils from the barn, the two-part solution is mixed, diluted in water, and either foamed or sprayed on surfaces.

In entryways, Sterilex® Ultra Step is an EPA-registered solid floor, foot pan and boot sanitizer that is highly effective as an alternative to foot baths and can prevent the spread of food pathogens via foot traffic. The powder is used in entryway foot pans, and can also be applied directly to floors in barns and hatcheries.

What additional information is available?

For more information on preventing the spread of avian influenza, visit the USDA’s Avian Influenza page. Of particular interest to poultry farms and processors are the Biosecurity for Birds and 6 Simple Steps for Good Biosecurity pages, which outline some of the USDA’s recommended practices for keeping poultry populations safe from pathogens like Avian Influenza, Salmonella, and exotic Newcastle disease (END).

For more information on using Sterilex products to address the challenges of integrated farms,contact us for more details.

*Biofilm label claims approved for specific applications only. See product label for full label claims and usage instructions.
close slider

Quick Contact

  • This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.