Disinfection in food processing: Efficacy testing of disinfectants

Gun Wirtanen, Satu Salo

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review

    80 Citations (Scopus)


    The key to effective cleaning and disinfection of food plants is the understanding of the type of the soil to be removed from the surfaces. An efficient cleaning and disinfection procedure consists of a sequence of rinses using good quality water with application of detergents and disinfectants. Disinfection is required in food plant operations, where wet surfaces provide favourable conditions for the growth of microbes. The efficacy of disinfectants is usually determined in suspensions, which do not mimic the growth conditions on surfaces where the agents are required to inactivate the microbes. Therefore, the suspension tests do not give adequate information and reliable carrier tests, which mimic surface growth, are needed. In developing a proposal for the testing of disinfectants on surfaces to an analytical standard, it is important to identify the major sources of variation in the procedure. In response to the need for a relatively realistic, simple and reliable test for disinfectant efficacy a method for culturing laboratory model biofilms has developed. The use of artificial biofilms i.e. biofilm-constructs inoculated with process contaminants in disinfectant testing can also be used for screening the activity of various disinfectants on biofilm cells. Both biofilm carrier tests showed clearly that the biofilm protects the microbes against the disinfectants. The chemical cleanliness is also essential in food plants. The total cleanliness of the process lines is mainly based on measuring the microbial load using culturing techniques. These results can give an incorrect picture of the total cleanliness, because the viable microbes do not grow when disinfectants are left on the surface. The luminescent bacteria light inhibition method offers a useful alternative for testing chemical residue left on surfaces after cleaning and disinfection operations.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)293-306
    Number of pages14
    JournalReviews in Environmental Science and Biotechnology
    Issue number2-4
    Publication statusPublished - 2003
    MoE publication typeA1 Journal article-refereed


    • biofilm
    • microbes
    • chemical residues
    • cleaning
    • disinfection
    • food processing


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