Battle Biofilms with Manual
• Deep cleaning: Scrubbing tools,
chemicals, and water are used to
remove rigid surface soils.
Other key points to note during
manual surface biofilm removal are as
Persistent pathogenic strains have that notorious capability to cross-contaminate food, food contact surfaces, and the nvironment for a longer duration and at more unpredictable
rates than transient strains. To make matters worse, conventional
cleaning and sanitization protocols can become
relatively ineffective in removing these resident
pathogens from surfaces, eventually leading to the
increased frequency of facility inspection violations,
product recalls, and foodborne disease outbreaks.
When this happens, the potential concern is
that surface biofilms may have already set in.
Hence, proper removal and prevention strategies
are required to remediate the situation to avoid
possibilities of plant closure, regulatory fines, or
public litigation issues.
(a)Clear the surface of debris, clean with
the detergent, and rinse with water
before applying sanitizer. Alternate
sanitizers (e.g., quaternary ammonia
and bleach) can be used to prevent
(b)Use the right kind of brushes (e.g.,
those with medium bristles). Conduct
wet cleaning by fully immersing the
parts in water, as much as possible.
(c) Aged or mature biofilms are more
firmly attached to the surface and
may require enzyme-based cleaning.
Therefore, it is better to clean regularly
before biofilms start forming.
Biofilms are generally complex matrices of cell-secreted
extracellular polymeric substances (EPSs) that harbor various
organisms such as pathogens, food particles, moisture, dirt, etc.
Typical biofilm formation steps are as follows:
1. “Free-floating” bacterial cells loosely settle on a contact surface.
2. Bacterial cells clump together and attach firmly to the surface.
3. Bacteria grow, divide, and colonize the location within a matter of
hours to days.
4. Bacteria produce EPSs that combine the cells, food, moisture, etc.
to form a rigid biofilm.
Prevention Is the Best Strategy
Biofilms within a food facility can
create a critical microbiological risk
of public health importance. In line
with Food Safety Modernization Act
requirements, sanitation preventive
controls are required to control cross-
contamination incidents that could
lead to surface biofilm formation. The
following are some of the industry-based
5. With time, parts of the biofilm disperse to spread the bacterial cells
to other facility areas.
(1)Follow a risk-based schedule to clean,
sanitize, and maintain the integrity of
The Necessity of Manual Cleaning
Biofilms normally form over a period of hours, days, or even weeks
on surfaces that are hard to reach, clean, sanitize, and inspect, or
on surfaces that are simply poorly maintained, whether they’re food
contact or not. Some common spots to look out for are hollow tubes
and supports, motor housings, rough welds, worn seals, gaskets,
crevices, drains, walls, and ceilings. Automated clean-in-place methods
may not be sufficient to remove potential surface biofilm buildup. In
these instances, manual cleaning would be required, which involves
the use of tools such as brushes, scrapers, and squeegees along with
critical parameters (e.g., contact time, temperature, chemicals, trained
employees, and other sanitation resources).
(2)Ensure proper hygienic zoning and
employee sanitary practices are
consistenty being followed in the
(3)Use color-coding strategies to
separate zones, equipment, utensils,
tools, and materials to control surface
(4)Select hygienically designed
equipment and tools that are durable
and easily cleanable for high-risk
processing areas, such as the ready-to-eat foods packing room.
A scheduled risk-based cleaning program of facility areas,
fixtures, equipment, utensils, and tools should be implemented
with an increased focus on one or more of the following applicable
Take the Next Step
• High-level cleaning: Tools with telescopic handles help prevent
biofilms on ceilings and overheads.
• Low-level cleaning: Angled brooms with long extension handles
can reach relatively inaccessible surfaces like narrow junctions and
• Detailed cleaning: Narrow-bristled blocks with ergonomic handles
are used on hard-to-reach nooks and crannies of equipment
To learn more about our solutions
for sanitation, hygiene, and material
handling, please contact Remco at
317.876.9856, firstname.lastname@example.org, or
www.remcoproducts.com. We can help
you find ways to develop and maintain
a cleaner and safer food production
environment that can be seamlessly
integrated into your food safety and