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Posted by admin on October 7, 2010

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What does the recent Ebola scare have to do with food safety? A recent CDC press conference regarding the protocol used by Dallas hospital caregivers treating Ebola virus patient zero stated that a breach in protocol was a cause of a caregiver becoming infected. The CDC later backtracked, and experts claim that the protocol in use was inadequate for the pathogen. The CDC also backtracked on the potential for Ebola to become aerosolized after leading scientists claimed it could not be ruled out. 

What about your food safety protocol? Producers might consider the area beyond the manufacturing area. Offices, maintenance, locker rooms, dining areas are areas where pathogens that are not typically on the radar for food production testing can have an impact on operations. The good news is the HACCP mentality can be used to broaden the application of sanitizing to include areas with the goal of protecting human assets and operational readiness. With the right tools, the incremental effort is very small but the payoff is very great.

Consider a maintenance crew with operations on multiple shifts. Does each shift have their own set of radios? If an ill crew member shares his radio with other shifts and they become ill, you have a disruption in your maintenance capability across shifts. The solution is not to buy more radios, it is to effectively identify radios as a transmission vector, and negate the risk. What about other touch surfaces such as vending machine buttons, microwave oven handles, copiers?

What about bathrooms? Toilets aerosolize pathogens with every flush. This means that the entire bathroom can get coated with viral contamination, and an infinitesimal amount of viral material is all it takes to transmit infection. Could this have been a factor in the Dallas health care worker infection? Consider the typical commercial toilet with its high pressure flush and no lid. The viral contamination in a water droplet between 8 and 15 microns in size is easily pathogenic and easily airborne for minutes and can travel several meters before drying out or landing at typical temperature and humidity.

A sanitizing system that puts a sanitizer into every intricate surface very quickly and without too much effort is ideal in your production area and beyond just as it is ideal for health care applications. A clean bathroom or dining area is important in a food plant and a hospital. Only in very unique cases are corrosive sanitizers required. From a sanitizing perspective, some of the most lethal viruses are not very robust in the face of effective sanitizing, meaning it wouldn't take much effort to kill these pathogens using the right tools and methods. Using the wrong method and sanitizer only makes the job harder, less effective, and more costly. 

If you are using a Biomist NAV-CO2 system, it is quite easy to include these “hot” surfaces in your sanitizing protocols. The idea is to prevent typical food pathogens such as e. Coli, but also to reduce influenza and other non-food pathogens that make your employees sick and absent.

United Sanitizing is fortunate to assist in many industries alongside many experts. Our contacts include pathologists, epidemiologists, food safety experts, physicians, veterinarians, and engineers. Using these experts, we can create comprehensive and front line pathogen suppression methods for many industries, and move beyond the traditional focus to a more effective and comprehensive strategy. We always consider the cost and practicality of these protocols, saving our clients time and money. Does it cost more? Actually it can cost less. Being clean and green can cost less than your current method.

The prevention of pathogens has a direct impact on your operations and your bottom line. United Sanitizing can demonstrate how a well designed protocol can improve your total sanitizing strategy.

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The CDC's sick plane advice

Posted by admin on October 8, 2014

On October 2, 2014 Dr. Phillis Kozarsky M.D. of the CDC in Atlanta who describes herself as “a consultant to the CDC, and a specialist in infectious diseases and travel medicine” and “worked many years with the airlines on health and travel” released a video with guidance to airlines on Ebola, and recommendations on what to do if a suspected infected passenger is on an aircraft. In this video, it is said that the virus is not airborne.  

Other scientists have not confirmed that Ebola cannot be spread by contact via the inhalation of droplets from coughing or sneezing by a person with an active Ebola infection. Inhalation of a virus from aerosolized mist is a well known and successful viral transmission route, used as a vaccine delivery method.

AIDS is a virus but experience demonstrated it is not spread by aerosolized droplets. SARS is a virus and has been demonstrated to be spread by aerosolized droplets. Ebola has not been ruled out as transmittable by a sneeze or cough, and the number of cases in countries with known hygiene standards is small. The data set is too small, thus excluding any transmission vector is based on something other than hard science.

Sneeze Droplets

Who is claiming that they have a sample size large enough to exclude aerosolized droplets containing the Ebola virus as a transmission vector?

Not the World Health Organization - they do not rule it out.

Not Dr. C.J. Peters, who battled a 1989 outbreak of the Ebola virus among research monkeys housed in Virginia, and later conducted research of human ebola transmission for the CDC.

Not Dr. Philip K. Russell, a virologist who oversaw Ebola research while heading the U.S. Army's Medical Research and Development Command.

The consensus is this - it simply not yet possible to exclude a vector, based on the findings of multiple doctors and virologists with direct Ebola experience. Of course there is MERS, SARS, TB and a host of other lethal pathogens that also fly the friendly skies. 

As a company dedicated to the delivery of aerosolized sanitizers, we understand droplets, and how they ride air currents. Our systems emit a continuous “super sneeze” of sanitizing effectiveness. We optimize the efficiency of our “transmission route” to attack the very same airborne pathogens that infect people and animals. We designed our systems around the size of an airplane beverage cart, and it was not by accident. How fast could we disinfect a commercial airplane? I’d estimate 12 minutes or less. Corrosion or wiping? None.

Flying is statistically safer than getting in your car, but it still involves a certain assumption of risk. People who claim to be experts need to be forthcoming about their understanding of Ebola and the risks. If the CDC says to wear a mask on an airplane because the transmission route is not yet fully understood, then I wear a $1.50 mask. If I run an airline, I spend 80 cents per passenger to sanitize my aircraft between flights because killing passengers kills your brand. It is long overdue. The airlines should have a better plan on the shelf for this virus and every other pathogen that rides commercial aircraft. Risk management is their business. Sanitizing big areas quickly is our business.

Ebola is not the common cold. The Dallas Texas Ebola patient Thomas Eric Duncan died early this morning. Is a little bit of airplane sanitizing too much to ask? The CDC would do well to work with industry to offer specific protocols for transportation sanitizing using modern technology for surveillance and eradication. There will be other viruses and the Ebola experience just demonstrates that more work needs to be done. An honest communications campaign and genuine science to back it up will do far more to suppress panic and instill confidence in our nation's experts.    

 
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Do you trust your ATP sampling method?

Posted by admin on May 2, 2014

The process of rapidly measuring actively growing microorganisms through detection of adenosine triphosphate, or ATP is known as ATP testing. ATP is found in all living cells. ATP is an energy molecule that helps a cell convert glucose into a final form of energy that can be utilized directly by the cell. Much of the research behind this technology emerged in the 1970, and ATP testing has been used in food quality environments since that time. 

ATP can be found in disease causing bacteria as well as non-disease causing bacteria and skin cells on your hand. Samples of ATP are achieved by swabbing a surface and exposing those cells to chemicals to release the ATP in the sample, a correlation between ATP and bacterial quantity is assumed and indicated as a number.

However, it is very hard to fix a problem that you cannot see. Clients have described using ATP testing in a large complex area as “hit or miss” and “finding a needle in a haystack”. ATP testing is valid science, but in some applications it provides a vague signal leading to an inefficient and less than effective response. Influences from contamination and handling are possible. When these surfaces are very large and complex, the sampling rate error results in a meaningless measurement. ATP is a useful tool for some, but the method's limitations need to be understood and accepted in accordance with the level of risk exposure and consequences of inaccurate results borne by the user.

Is ATP swabbing of a surface for determining bacterial contamination in a large area adequate? Can ATP detect bacteria covered by a biofilm? Is the sampling method statistically valid? How reliable is the correlation between the presence of ATP and the presence of actual disease causing bacteria? There are many questions, and an alternative to ATP swabbing should be considered by industries exposed to risk, or where quality personnel are frustrated by unexplained variation in their ATP readings.

A new alternative for detecting E. Coli, Listeria and Salmonella on surfaces is available using instant, direct, high frequency energy.img_usan_pp_012.png

PINPOINT imparts energy into a bacterial cell whereby it is released in the form of light visible to the human eye. PINPOINT does not rely on external chemistry, and does not require direct surface contact. PINPOINT only identifies certain disease causing bacteria, even if they are under a biofilm.

The operation is simple, you shine PINPOINT on a surface. If specific pathogenic bacteria exist, they glow instantly via PINPOINT and are visible to the human eye. PINPOINT provides feedback at the speed of light and shows exactly where the contamination is located, speeding up the cleaning and sanitizing steps. The surface area that can be covered with PINPOINT exceeds all other methods to date, and quickly leads the effort into action that yields results.


 


 

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See bacterial contamination on surfaces in real time

We all know how a fluorescent light works, where an atom has energy put to it and one or more of the electrons orbiting the center of the atom become excited by the additional energy and jump up to a higher orbit. When the external energy is removed, the electron returns to it's original orbit and emits the energy in the form of light. Now imagine this taking place within the phosphorescent compounds in bacteria. Just like a florescent light, they glow.

Luminescence meters work on this principle, whereby a surface is sampled with a swab, the swab is inserted in a tube, and low intensity luminescence is induced chemically to react with ATP, a form of chemical energy found in all living things, including live bacteria. Light output is achieved. The device measures the light and a unit of measurement is endeavored under the premise that more ATP equals more light equals more bacteria.

As a sampling tool for surfaces, luminescence meters have some limitations. First, You have to sample a surface you cannot see, so it is uncertain what was sampled. Second, you have to hope that what you sampled with uncertainty does not have an invisible layer of biofilm that obscures the ATP signal of the bacteria. Lastly, a leap of faith regarding the relationship between emitted light and a number on a readout intended to measure a quantity is required, and that number is based on several progressively dependant physical and chemical processes, all subject to variation. Many users claim they get erratic results and cannot explain why. Don’t get me wrong, the science is sound, but in practical application on surfaces in the wild, it just does not make the grade as a measuring instrument for industrial surfaces.

So what would happen if we could detect that same type of luminescence without external chemicals or contact, on a surface? It would be ideal if the released energy was at or near the visible light spectrum so we could see it with our own eyes, in real time.

Previous methods used cumbersome light sources, reflectors, refractors, filters, and complicated alignment procedures, but a new technology eliminates these barriers.

It is now possible to see the contamination on large or irregular surfaces. Target species bacteria can be located on hard to reach areas without having to actually physically contact all of the surfaces first. If a biofilm exists, the energy is directed to it and through it, exposing the living bacteria beneath the biofilm in real time. Identification, sampling and eradication are more effective and more efficient. Instead of a “hit or miss” sampling strategy with a 2 minute lag, this technology produces a human visible “hit” sampling strategy in real time.

As a true breakthrough in food safety, United Sanitizing is pleased to offer the Portable INstant PathOgen INdicating Tool - PINPOINT.

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Photo: A valve under indoor light (left), black light (center), and PINPOINT (right). The bright areas under PINPOINT illumination were later sampled and identified as E. coli  

Designed with large commercial operations in mind, PINPOINT focuses the sampling, identification, and eradication of pathogenic bacteria including E. coli, Listeria, and Salmonella. No physical contact or chemicals are required. The self contained PINPOINT is designed to illuminate specific pathogenic bacteria on irregular surfaces to include tanks and vessels, valves, pipes, panels, conveyors, and anyplace where pathogens hide. Once these contaminated surfaces are identified, more accurate microbial samples can be obtained and hygiene procedures can be employed with greater accuracy and confidence. More than just black light, PINPOINT used select energy frequencies to match specific bacterial species like a tuning fork, allowing selective identification of contaminated areas. Bacteria that cannot be seen with black light alone can be seen with PINPOINT.

PINPOINT is also available as a borescope, capable of inspecting pipeline internals, where bacteria grow in the porosity of welds and couplings.

Your United Sanitizing application engineer is ready to show how PINPOINT can improve your quality and budget. More information at www.unitedsanitizing.com

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Porcine Virus in food transportation

Posted by admin on April 21, 2014

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PED impacts piglets, farmers concerned.
The USDA now requiring reporting of PED virus.
Virus is taking a major toll on U.S. pork producers.

 

If a smell could punch you in the face, I would use that term to describe my first introduction to a farrowing house. It is where pigs are born. I suspect my brother-in-law chuckled with Schadenfreud at my suburban sensitivities. Inside, the 70F year round climate control kept the piglets warm and the air foul. Raising pigs is hard, dirty work that I respect, because bacon and ribs are two things that I enjoy immensely, and the quality of American pork brings these foods into the realm of high art.

It is therefore with sadness that I learn that plate of ribs is going to be harder to produce. Porcine epidemic diarrhea (PED) virus is taking a major toll on U.S. pork producers. PED strikes suckling piglets. Once a piglet is weaned, the diet change reduces the potential for piglet mortality.

The interesting facet for a person like I, who is not a farm professional, is the transportation vector as it relates to the spread of the PED virus. My father-in-law’s farm had a sign telling truck drivers that they would be issued boots and coveralls and to not enter the property without them. He might have been trying to avoid foot and mouth disease as he raised cattle, but he might have just implemented it as an overall GMP.

Thus, the recent focus of the Food Safety and Modernization Act (FSMA) including transportation of food products is prudent. The newborn pigs who are not yet exposed to the world outside the farrowing house would most likely acquire the virus from the trucks that came to pick up pigs headed for slaughter. Boots, tires, ramps, whatever. It takes so little of a virus to spread. PED is going to cost some piglets until the herd develops immunity but that was just this time. What about next time? Will the next virus be total war?

PED has exposed a vulnerability in the food chain, with the vector of attack including the backflow of pathogens from slaughterhouse to farm. PED is not zoonotic, but what about the next virus?

Systems exist to sanitize trailers where PED can be carried to farms, but what about the cab, and the driver’s gear? This is also possible. It takes an open mind, but it does not have to be prohibitively expensive or time consuming. New technology exists to sanitize vehicle cabs including ventilation systems where pathogens and molds could formerly hide. Your United Sanitizing applications engineer can show you how to detect and suppress viral, bacterial and fungicidal threats in vehicles, trucks, ambulances and aircraft. Call and find out now, because you don’t want a virus to punch you in the face.

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CDC's food pathogen report: "More needs to be done"

Posted by admin on April 17, 2014

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CDC reports percentage gain in Campylobacter and Vibrio (Graphic: Centers for Disease Control)

The recently released CDC report states

"Compared with 2010–2012, the estimated incidence of infection in 2013 was lower for Salmonella, higher for Vibrio, and unchanged overall.† Since 2006–2008, the overall incidence has not changed significantly. More needs to be done. Reducing these infections requires actions targeted to sources and pathogens, such as continued use of Salmonella poultry performance standards and actions mandated by the Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA)"

CDC FoodNet data indicates an increase in Campylobacter, the primary transmission vector being chickens, raw milk, and eggs.

The CDC reports that 14% of the 7 most common food pathogen infections can be attributed to contact with animals.

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Middle East Respiratory Virus - fighting back

Posted by admin on April 16, 2014

Middle East Respiratory Virus (MERS) is a virus that is in the news, as news outlets need something to fill the space between advertisements. In the past it was Swine Flu, Bird Flu, ect. These are categorized as “zoonomic diseases”. Zoonomic diseases spread from non-human animals to humans. There are many zoonomic diseases but MERS seems to have a 40% mortality rate so it's the hot topic. Is it as big of a problem as TB? No. Can the same method be used to combat multiple respiratory diseases? Yes.

I've never seen a bird sneeze, but I suspect they do, and I do know that respiratory infections can be spread on tiny droplets from sneezing and inhaled by new hosts or land on surfaces and are touched by a host and introduced via the eyes, nose or mouth. This is why the CDC recommends hand washing as well as not sneezing on people. These are defensive measures.

An offensive approach is also needed. If certain pathogens spread by being aerosolized, why not fight them the same way? NAV-CO2 systems use alcohol and quaternary ammonia propelled by CO2 gas. The alcohol and quaternary ammonia work synergistic as a sanitizer and the CO2 is a propellant and a flame suppressant for the alcohol.

Well engineered NAV-CO2 systems like those sold and supported by United Sanitizing, perform like a “continuous long range sneeze” but the payload isn't a pathogen, it is a swirling vapor of sanitizer with a complete surface coating which dries in minutes without wiping. No waste, no wiping, no corrosion.

NAV-CO2 is different from other sprays because it can be sprayed on almost any surface without damage or residue. A invisible layer of quaternary ammonia provides a sustained sanitizing effect that outlasts alcohol alone. No wiping. Self-drying, and a person with minimal training can cover large areas completely and quickly. No-wiping means the labor does not get burned out before the sanitizing job is done.

Effective sanitizing chemistry has been available for a long time, so why then are infectious diseases a growing problem? Two reasons are economics and ergonomics. In use, applying sanitizer via NAV-CO2 saves about 60% of the sanitizer and about 85% of the labor. If sanitizing is cheap, fast, and effective – everyone would do it. With our systems, everyone can sanitize at a price they can afford.

By fighting MERS and SARS and TB via their own aerosolized method of transportation, we can make a important advance in animal and human health. 

www.unitedsanitizing.com has a NAV-CO2 system for every budget and operation. Visit now, there is a very practical solution for the MERS challenge. 

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What is a Biofilm

Posted by admin on April 11, 2014

Bacteria are single celled organisms and as such do not have a nervous system to communicate messages to other bacteria.

Bacteria communicate by secreting their extracellular polymeric substances (EPS) also known as "slime" to facilitate communication via quorum sensing. Within this slime, bacteria can align their metabolism as a collective unit and share metabolic resources, shield themselves, and increase resistance to antimicrobials. Sometimes the biofilm layer can be quite thin, chemically hardened, and invisible to the naked eye. 

Biofilms are most common in the presence of liquids and can be found in living tissue. One example of a biofilm is the plaque in your mouth. However, biofilms can also exist in the grain structure of metals, plastics and other non living materials. Biofilms can corrode their host. Portions of biofilms can detach from their original point of formation and move to new locations.

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(Above)  Atomic force microscopy image of a single bacterial cell and its associated EPS on a surface of AISI 316 stainless steel.

In commercial food production, biofilms can shield bacteria from chemicals and light physical contact. This includes culturing swabs and ATP lysing agents used in microbial detection. From a quality perspective, this can create false negatives in microbial testing of surfaces. Front line quality personnel may believe they are getting an intermittent signal from microbial testing, but what they might be measuring is a seemingly sanitary surface, yet beneath a biofilm are active pathogens. When these biofilm break away or are erroded, the "positive" signal returns, then disappears, reappears, ect.

Biofilms can resist chemical attack. Imagine wiping away on a surface with a bleach soaked cloth to no effect. This is what makes biofilms frustrating to those who do not realize they are dealing with a biofilm. It also supports the case for dry sanitizing where possible, but it is not always possible where moisture is neccessary for a process.   

On large or difficult to reach surfaces, detection of biofilms can be achieved through optical methods, yet this is a new and specialized method that is best employed with professional assistance. Your United Sanitizing application specialist can help.

Eradication of biofilms requires an aggressive response, typically involving heating or polishing the grain structure where the bacteria are hiding. Some materials are more conducive to biofilm colonization than others and should be avoided if neccessary. Once the colony is suppressed, the focus is on eliminating root causes and using a more robust sanitizing strategy.

United Sanitizing helps clients improve brands through comprehensive sanitizing strategy. Your United Sanitizing application specialist is ready to address your specific needs and apply quality methodology and best practices of industry leaders. We listen, then deliver.

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Sustainable Sanitizing the United Sanitizing Way

Posted by admin on January 22, 2014

Sustainability - United Sanitizing Style

Sustainability is a big buzzword these days. Some treat it like a novel, new concept. It is not. Prior to planned obsolescence, people expected their tools, clothing, and household items to be durable, functional, and reliable. America’s most iconic products embodied this ideal. The Boeing 747, the Waring Blender, Levis, The Willy's Jeep. At United Sanitizing we still embrace honest American value, but add the technical dimension, meaning that we combine what is trusted, known, and proven with modern technical advancements demanded by our customers.

Sustainability has to be more than good for the environment. Let’s be real for a second - you won't occupy the green moral high ground for very long if you are broke. Tell your kids that you were “green” before it was cool, but it was called “old-fashioned thriftiness”. It’s coming back into vogue. The Biomist sanitizing systems I sell have shiny, stainless steel cabinets so they can last for more than a decade of hard use, every day, without failure, and at seven years and counting, almost every single unit is operational. You break even in eight months but the savings will continue for years. That’s sustainable value.

Sustainability means using less and getting an equal or better result. So many people use trigger sprayers to apply alcohol based sanitizers. Hold one up to a light, spray it, and see how many heavy droplets fall out of the spray. What if I told you that 60% of the cost of the product goes right to the floor as waste?  This isn’t sustainable. It bad for the environment and bad for your bottom line. If you are sanitizing more than 4000 square feet per week, a full size spray system for alcohol sanitizers could save a quarter million U.S. dollars over a five year period, in product and labor just because of transfer efficiency and coverage rate. Not having a fire is the other key benefit. A smaller operation can achieve similar sustainable savings with our smaller systems.

Sustainability means good chemistry. We’ve heard about health officials in a panic about antibiotic resistance. The same overkill happens in industrial sanitizing. Very unnecessary applications of sanitizer are used to kill organisms that are not a threat. Some “Hospital Grade” sanitizing products contain sporicidal chemicals that only are needed if you are expecting a biological weapon attack or an uncommon hospital acquired infection. Those who peddle these wares for a living should do their customers a favor and take the time to match the chemistry with the target pathogen and the application, just like a good doctor would do with antibiotics.

Sustainability means being smart. Alcohol plus quat allows you to use less quaternary ammonia volume. Water plus quat based products must be a minimum of 200ppm but alcohol based sanitizers can be as low as 150ppm and still meet U.S. federal law. The quaternary compound is where the expense and environmental impact is. Smart consumers seek the product that does an equal or better job, dries faster and uses 25% less of the expensive ingredient.

So you used 60% less of a product that contains 25% less of the stuff you try to limit. It saved you a bundle and is much better for the environment and isn’t overkill for your requirements. It also did not corrode your production equipment, and you cut your downtime. That’s sustainable.

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