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Stine Lønnerup Bislev
Stine Lønnerup Bislev
Previous Hygiene and Compliance Manager at Vikan

Mechanical action – an essential factor in biofilm removal

Do you know how important the mechanical action applied during cleaning is in removing biofilms?
If you don’t already know, you’ll find the answer here.

What are biofilms?

Biofilms contain a complex mixture of different micro-organisms working together. Bacteria in the biofilm join and form a protective slime/matrix around each other. Biofilms can contain and protect harmful (pathogenic) bacteria such as Salmonella spp., Staphylococcus aureus, Escherichia coli, and Listeria monocytogenes. Microbes, moisture, food, and surfaces are needed for biofilms to grow and all these conditions are present in the most food processing environments.

What are biofilms_image

Why are biofilms a serious problem in food production?

Biofilms are a serious problem in food production because they protect the microbes in them from detergents, disinfectants, and other antimicrobials. Additionally, bacterial cells from biofilms may detach and then rapidly multiply and contaminate adjacent surfaces and foods.
In the food industry, biofilms can form on any surface, but they are commonly found in old or poorly designed and/or maintained buildings and equipment. This include floors, drains, pipework, the underside of surfaces, niches within food processing equipment and cleaning tools. Usually biofilms are not visible to the naked eye.

How to control biofilms?

The control of biofilms starts with good cleaning and disinfection practices.

It is essential to clean before disinfection

Mechanical action is needed to break up the protective matrix around the biofilm and allow disinfectants to work. Mechanical action is most commonly applied through manual cleaning, during which surfaces should be thoroughly scrubbed using appropriate equipment and chemicals.

To minimise the risk of further biofilm contamination, choose cleaning equipment and methods that maximise their removal and minimise their spread.

Biofilms removal video

The biofilms removal video shows how each step in a cleaning process affects the level of biofilm on a surface. It underlines the importance of mechanical action during the cleaning process and how disinfection works best when a thorough cleaning has been conducted first.

Watch video
Biofilm Movie image