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Preventing bacterial biofilms on floors

bacteria on floors     

Bacteria that persist within the food and drink manufacturing facilities are those which survive and grow under the prevailing environmental conditions (e.g local temperature, presence of product residues and moisture levels) and remain viable and attached to surfaces following cleaning and disinfection.  Careful consideration should be given to the selection of surface materials and the type of cleaning regimes to minimise the presence of biofilms on surfaces within food factory environments.

Flooring design for purpose

Food factory flooring demands a far wider range of flooring performance than commercial settings, due to exposure to forklifts and machinery – and potential food and liquid contaminants.  A particular favourite within food factory companies is non-slip epoxy or polyurethane resin systems.  Whilst these systems are quick and easy to install, the material emits high-levels of dangerous odours and has a low life expectancy, adding to company’s maintenance costs and inconveniences.  It’s the break-down effect of resin flooring that increases the risk of bacterial growth, as dirt and grease can easily hide in cracks or grooves.  

AGROB BUCHTAL, German manufacturer of ceramic tiles has introduced HT tiles, a hard wearing tile with antibacterial properties, providing outstanding hygienic performance and long term benefits in excess of 25 years. 

tiled food factory  Food manufacturing ceramic tiles

Containing a patented titanium coating applied during the manufacturing process, the tiles (and grout) create a photocatalytic reaction that kills bacteria, fungi and germs.  What’s more, HT tiles neutralises unpleasant odours so that the room climate is permanently improved – an important aspect in food processing.

Scientific studies from the German institute Fraunhofer for Biological Process Engineering, discovered that 99% of bacteria sample (e.g. organic materials, pathogenic germs, bacteria, mould, etc.) died within 30 minutes after contact with HT tile surface.   

HT Antibacterial tiles

Image to the left shows a reduction of E.coli within 20 minutes on a HT tile.  While a standard surface shows the growth of bacteria. 

Tests on other forms of bacteria include:

- Staphylococcus aureus (causes skin diseases and food poisoning)

- Burkholderia cepacia (survives for prolonged periods in moist environments and effects breathing)

- Serratia marcescens (found in bathrooms and slimy wet surfaces, causing gastro)

- Pseudomonas aeruginosa (common bacteria found in soil, water and food)

- Streptococcus uberis (forms of this bacteria used within cheese making, can be responsible for flesh eating bacteria)

- Enterococcus faecalis (can survive alkaline cleaning, high cause of infection for dental root-canal treated teeth)

Measurements have proven that up to 99% of the above sample bacteria die with 30 minutes after contact with the HT surface.

Source: Fraunhofer Institute for Interfacial and Biological Process Engineering


Keeping your surfaces clean

To achieve perfect hygiene, careful consideration must be made with regard to the type of cleaning process and cleaning agents.  HT tiled surfaces are hydrophilic, causing water to spread over the flooring surface as a thin film that infiltrates dirt and makes cleaning easier.  

In order to avoid destruction of the flooring surface and underlying materials, it is necessary to have a good knowledge of the materials to be cleaned, the nature of the contamination to be removed and the chemical characteristics of the cleaning agent.  Some cleaners are highly toxic and can strip the surface of your floor (whether its tiles or epoxy), damaging its longevity. 

While, cold water washes in conjunction with cleaning agents will lead to a reduction in safety.  The chart below shows that cold water wash will not remove floor contamination, such as oils or fats, resulting in a reduction of slip-resistance to create unsafe flooring; and an increased risk of harbouring bacteria.

Cleaning flooring