For food processing facilities across all industries, the COVID-19 pandemic has caused massive upsets in operations, supply lines, labor and virtually every other sector of business. Many processing facilities have been classified as critical infrastructure to national security which ensures they remain operating to supply food to America and the rest of the world. These facilities are facing new challenges as they not only work to keep their doors open but also keep their workers safe and healthy. To help with these challenges, several government agencies, state agencies and private companies have put together safe and effective plans for re-opening facilities that may have closed for a short period of time.
Why should we focus on Cleaning and Disinfecting?
It can be overwhelming to consider every factor that goes into reopening a food processing facility. In addition to implementing physical barriers, social distancing and increasing PPE use, one of the most important factors to reopening your plant is cleaning and disinfection. Cleaning and disinfecting common areas is the only remediation tool available to facilities and extremely important.
Recommendations in most guidance documents focus on preventing the physical spread of disease but a proper cleaning and disinfection regimen can fully destroy and inactivate the virus from hard, non-porous surfaces in your facility as well as provide peace of mind for your essential workers. In its Guidelines for Reopening, OSHA recommends making a plan for your whole facility and ensuring your enhanced cleaning and disinfecting protocols are laid out and followed.
Do I need to clean the surface before disinfecting?
Cleaning and disinfecting can be combined into one step and some disinfectants list it as one step on their label. However, the best practice is to first clean and scrub a surface with soap. The mechanical scrubbing action ensures there is as little soil left on the surface as possible. By first removing soil, the “power” of the disinfectant is focused on killing the viruses or bacteria instead of removing non-living soils.
Where in my plant should I focus my cleaning and disinfection efforts?
Thanks to laws like the Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA) and Hazard Analysis Critical Control Point (HACCP) plans, the U.S. has one of the safest food supplies in the world and is well prepared to control viral pathogens on food contact surfaces. There may be little, if any, adjustments that need to be made to your cleaning and sanitation protocols in Zone 1. Now is the time to focus on Zones 2-4 and other areas that may be outside your standard cleaning and sanitizing protocols such as restrooms, office areas, employee locker rooms and other common facilities. If those areas do not have a SSOP in place, now is a good time to create one.
How do I choose a disinfectant?
Sanitizers and disinfectants are EPA-regulated terms and products. Any product that inactivates or controls viruses must be EPA registered. EPA’s List N identifies all products that meet EPA’s Emerging Viral Pathogen criteria for use against SARS-CoV-2 (COVID-19), including Sterilex Ultra Disinfectant Cleaner Solution 1. Because there are many products on this list, special consideration should be given to variables like required contact time, material compatibility, and application methods. Appropriate contact times are essential to achieving total disinfection. Contact time is the amount of time it takes for the disinfectant to sit on a surface to effectively kill or inactivate a certain pathogen.
How do I apply disinfectants?
It is extremely important to follow the product label when applying a disinfectant. The “Directions for Use” section not only tells us what the product controls but also, where, how and when to use it. To ensure that a disinfectant kills all listed microorganisms or inactivates the viruses it claims to, the product must be used according to the manufacturer’s instructions.
General best practices for applying a disinfectant to a hard, non-porous surface include:
- Wear the proper PPE as stated on the product label. This could include goggles and/or face shield, protective clothing, and rubber gloves.
- Prepare a stock solution of the chemistry you have selected if the product requires dilution.
- Add stock solution to the appropriate vessel for your preferred application method. Common application methods include mopping, spraying, foaming and wiping. The product’s label should indicate recommended equipment.
- Apply stock solution to the surface. Allow surfaces to remain visibly wet for the required contact time as stated on the label.
- Rinse all food contact surfaces with a potable water rinse. For non-food contact surfaces, wipe, rinse, or allow surface to air dry.
Plant Disinfection Guide
What makes PerQuat® different?
Sterilex Ultra Disinfectant Cleaner Solution 1, when mixed with Sterilex Ultra Activator Solution, and Sterilex Ultra Step have demonstrated effectiveness against viruses similar to SARS-CoV-2 (Coronavirus) on hard, non-porous surfaces. Therefore per the Emerging Viral Pathogen policy, Sterilex Ultra Disinfectant Cleaner Solution 1, when mixed with Sterilex Ultra Activator Solution, can be used against Coronavirus (COVID-19) when used in accordance with these directions for use.
A research study suggests that viruses can accumulate within a bacterial biofilm. Sterilex’s patented PerQuat technology is specifically designed to remove bacterial biofilms* in hard-to-reach environments. Sterilex’s combination of broad spectrum viral, bactericidal and biofilm removal* properties make it an excellent choice for enhanced disinfection protocols in food processing environments.
* The content provided on this webpage is provided for informational purposes only and does not supersede the product label requirements. Approved label claims may vary depending on geography, use site, organism, or other factors. Always refer to the product label for complete directions for use.
 Applied and Enviornmental Microbiology, Mar. 1997, p. 978-982