Product pledges quick biofilm removal from food plants

By Jane Byrne

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags Food Food safety

A new product can remove Salmonella, E. coli and Listeria biofilm coatings found in food processing drains in a fraction of the time of traditional drain cleaning methods, claims its manufacturer.

US based chemical supplier Zep said its new BioFilm Drain Purge, due to its cleaning and antimicrobial efficacy, reduces the amount of time required to remove biofilm/slimes from hard to reach places from a few hours to few minutes.

Tough surface

Biofilms are a major problem at food manufacturing sites. These colonies of pathogens form a tough surface skin that resist conventional commercial washing and sanitizing methods.

The US Department of Agriculture (USDA) has reported that 28 per cent of food processing area floors and drains test positive for Listeria​ alone, while recent high profile foodborne outbreaks have been linked to food products becoming tainted at the processing stage by pathogen such as Salmonella, E. coli​ and Listeria.

Adel Makdesi, senior microbiologist at Zep told that its BioFilm Drain Purge is the only US Environmental Protection Agency registered product to remove the biofilms of a range of microorganisms from drains and plumbing in food processing facilities.

He said that the product comes in two parts - Biofilm Drain Purge A and B - which are both in liquid form and consist of quaternary ammonium compounds and hydrogen peroxide.

Removal method

Makdesi explained that the drain purge, using a powerful combination chemistry developed by pairing the negatively charged perhydroxide ion with a positively charged quaternary ammonium compound, attacks the biofilm by penetrating the outer layer and dissolving into the matrix:

“It destroys and eliminates the biofilm matrix by a unique combination of hydrolysis, oxidation and solubilization.”

The product can be applied during the sanitation shift when sanitation workers are cleaning the processing areas, continued Makdesi.

“There are no fumes or side effects to the users when this product is used at the recommended concentrations, and thus no plant downtime will result from using the product.”


Makdesi claims that Biofilm Drain Purge works extremely fast - 30 minutes on average to clean all the drains in a plant - with the end user only required to foam it into the drains and leave it, unlike traditional drain cleaning methods that require, he said, a thorough and lengthy manual scrubbing with detergent and brushes to remove the biofilm from the visible parts of the drain trunk.

“In addition, the foam application will allow the Biofilm Drain Purge to reach the upper part of the trunk line where traditional sanitizers do not reach and therefore remove all the biofilm from the drains,”​ he said.

Cost savings

And, according to the microbiologist, Biofilm Drain Purge is not costly considering the amount of time and labour it saves over the current methods to remove biofilms from drains.

Makdesi said that while the product is currently only approved for use in drains, other uses, such as food processing equipment, walls and floors are pending approvals.

The product, said the company, is currently available in the US only, but developments are underway to have it placed on the Canadian market. The company did not comment as to its eventual availability in Europe.

Related topics Food Safety & Quality

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