As consumers, we all rely on the food industry to uphold high standards of quality and sanitation. But unfortunately, that isn’t always the case. While food manufacturers, retailers, and processors do their best to keep operations clean, biofilm is one problem that has plagued the industry.

What is biofilm?

The slimy film that forms in damp areas, typically around drains and in trunk lines, is known as biofilm. Harboring pathogens such as Listeria, Salmonella and E. coli, biofilm creates a protective environment for illness-causing microorganisms to thrive.

Eliminating biofilm and the pathogens it breeds has proven to be difficult for the food processing and retail sanitation industry. It tends to persist in damp areas and is resistant to traditional cleaners and sanitizers. Typical drain cleaners such as enzymatic cleaners, drain openers, and hard surface sanitizers don’t have EPA approval to remove biofilm and are ineffective against the pathogens found in it.

Ensuring a safe, contamination-free food supply

A 2004 audit of food processing facilities by the USDA Food Safety and Inspection Service reported that 27.8 percent of floors and drains sampled tested positive for Listeria, one of the common illness-causing bacteria found in biofilm. In such close proximity to food preparation areas, this creates a significant potential threat of cross contamination.

Even with a wide variety of cleaning and sanitizing solutions available, the professionals in these industries have had trouble effectively sanitizing drains, trunk lines, and other hard to reach areas. These dark, damp locations become perfect breeding grounds for all kinds of dangerous contaminants.

New product innovations have emerged to fight biofilm as a supplement to normal cleaning and sanitation procedures to help ensure those hard-to-reach areas no longer threaten the safety of food products.  Two such products, Zep Biofilm Drain Purge and Zep MicroSolve, were recently developed specifically to help food suppliers maintain safe, healthy environments free of biofilm that protects pathogenic microorganisms.

Foodborne diseases pose a very real danger to consumers. The CDC estimates that each year, roughly 1 in 6 Americans gets sick; 128,000 are hospitalized; and 3,000 die from such illnesses. Whether dining out at a restaurant or purchasing food from a supermarket, you always want to feel confident that whatever goes in your mouth was processed, handled and prepared in a sanitary environment. Thankfully, the food industry now has a solution through products like Zep Biofilm Drain Purge and Zep MicroSolve, which will help minimize the threat of biofilm, and the harmful microorganisms they contain.