The quality of a Food Business Operator’s (FBO) hygiene process can only be enhanced by the quality of the cleaning and disinfectant products he/she uses. Here, we present key points to ensure that the FBO selects the right disinfectant product to keep the premises ‘safe, clean and legal’ at all times.
In this series, we have highlighted the need for the FBO and chemical supplier to be professional and reputable, ensuring standards are met and sustained. The FBO needs to know that the sanitiser or disinfectant being used actually meets the basic disinfectant standard recommended by the local authority. In essence, the FBO needs to know whether the product is made by a reputable manufacturer and whether the chemical supplier can produce evidence (normally a test certificate) that the product has been tested to the appropriate standard by a recognised testing laboratory.
International tests conducted by principle partners in other countries in some cases will not suffice. As a local manufacturer, Arpal Gulf does not rely on its UK parent company’s test accreditations but tests the country of origin formulations with some of the best known testing houses in the world. Two internationally recognised disinfection tests authenticate a manufacturer’s claims with a dilution of chemical to water also stated.
1.The BS EN 1276 standard is a suspension test used to evaluate bactericidal activity of chemical disinfectants. Four test organisms are used, including E. coli, and to satisfy the test, a 5-log reduction (99.999%) is required within 5 minutes.
2.The BS EN 13697 standard tests bactericidal performance on a non-porous surface using the same four test bacteria as above, but BS EN 13697 can also be extended to include fungicidal activity. To meet the standard, a 4-log reduction (99.99%) in bacteria is required within 5 minutes.
Products meeting the BS EN standard MUST be used in accordance with the manufacturer’s dilution instructions as this is the dilution at which the product has been tested. It is important to be aware of the dilution and test conditions used in the BS EN test carried out on the product. For example: ‘Conforms to BS EN 1276 at a dilution of 50:1 in 2 minutes under clean (or dirty) conditions’. Such information should be provided on pack labelling, dilution bottles, Product Guidance Sheets or other information provided by the supplier.
The FBO must understand that simply having a product that has been tested to BS EN 1276 or BS EN 13697 disinfectant standards in stock will meet the needs of the (FBO) and satisfy a visiting Inspection Officer is misguided. The FBO will be expected to look more closely at individual hygiene processes and be using a product appropriately to help control the risk of cross contamination of surfaces and equipment from pathogenic food poisoning organisms.
Dubai Municipality is forward-thinking with regard to control of chemical products that are used in the food industry, and the Food Control Department has built a database of relevant manufacturers’ product information, certification, labels and approvals. The database is regularly reviewed and published as a list of ‘Approved Chemicals and Disinfectant/Sanitisers for Food Contact Surfaces’.
Only products that have been fully assessed to meet all requirements are entered onto the approved list, and the companies that manufacture and/or supply approved products are issued with a valid approval letter from the Dubai Municipality. Each product approval has an expiry date that ensures that products used in the food sector are regularly tested to meet the required standards and claims made by manufacturers must be proven before re-approval is granted. Arpal Gulf’s products are, for example, registered and approved until 2018.
Every effort is made to identify product efficacy through the valid documents, yet the responsibility for practical verification and validation about the product efficacy, the product specific claim(s) and their suitability for the particular application in the particular operation or process in the food facilities to get the desired results lies with the FBO.
For responsible manufacturers it presents an opportunity to secure supply chain with customers, and indeed the municipality actively recommends FBOs to enter into supply contracts with these manufacturers to guard against potential violations. Similarly, manufacturers cannot be complacent and must monitor the lifespan of their product approvals because initial or one-time approval does not guarantee the next approval.
Bacteria is invisible to the human eye; hence, sanitisers and disinfectants from a reputable chemical manufacturer should be chosen to ensure trusted, effective disinfection even on surfaces that are visibly clean. Food debris harbour bacteria, and it is vital, therefore, to carry out a first-stage cleaning process to physically remove bacteria from the surface.
Wherever practical, Arpal Gulf recommends that a two-stage process must take place. Ideally, the FBO should use two products, cleaning first with a good quality detergent (non-biocidal) to remove all visible surface debris, before then disinfecting with a separate product that meets the BS EN standard. Alternatively, the FBO can conduct a two-stage process using a single sanitising product to initially clean and then use the same product again to disinfect the pre-cleaned surface, as long as it meets the BS EN standard when used in the second disinfection stage.
If one product is being used for both the cleaning and disinfecting stages of a two-stage hygiene process, it obviously needs to be an effective cleaner/degreaser. Some disinfectants may have excellent disinfection properties but will not clean a surface adequately to allow meaningful disinfection in the second stage. A product that has passed BS EN 1276 at a dilution of 10:1 may not be safe to use as a disinfectant at higher dilutions. Scientific evidence supports that ‘effective chemical disinfection can only be achieved on visibly clean surfaces’, hence the need for a first-stage cleaning process to remove visible dirt, food particles and debris before using the sanitiser for disinfection.
Freehand dosing of concentrated product into sinks and spray bottles might not deliver the dilution required for disinfection efficacy and will lead to avoidable increased costs, so a simple to use and accurate dispensing system should be provided by the chemical manufacturer. Controlled dilution systems are readily available from most reputable chemical manufacturers. These ensure that a controlled dose of disinfectant/sanitiser is vended into a clearly labelled bottle filled with water, or where chemical and water are mixed together as a ready to use solution. At a basic level, a 5lt pelican pump will suffice if operators adhere to manufacturer recommendations. For smaller operations where controlled dilution systems cannot be located, the FBO can utilise pre-packed ready-to-use products pre-diluted at the manufacturing stage and offer protection, but are relatively expensive per bottle used over diluted concentrates.
We hope you found this short series helpful and informative – see you all next month.