Public Enemy Number One

Two focus points of food sanitation are protecting your brand and controlling the perpetual concerns of biofilm, listeria, and now drain maintenance. According to a 2016 article published in Time, the FDA recalled more than 300-million total food items, and USDA issued recalls for more than 60-million pounds of food. In many of these instances, the food supply contamination was listeria.


Food sanitation continues to receive added emphasis in all production facilities.  FSMA and improving food safety programs will be high priorities in implementing various processes within your facility in 2017.  Training and educating your sanitors will continue to be a key driver as you protect your brand and/or other companies for whom you co-pack.  One of the more recent areas that has come under scrutiny in many facilities is floor drains.

Attempting to maintain floor drains in a food processing facility is a difficult task at best. The sole purpose of these drains is to handle a continual flow of waste and remove it from the processing area.  By their very nature, they will have bacterial content; therefore, improper drain cleaning procedures can ultimately provide one of the likeliest paths to cross contamination within your facility.  As drain maintenance continues to gain this level of priority for food processors, there seems to be three general options coming forward to provide chemical solutions that best fit your company and your sanitor’s plan.  A key point to remember, however, is that there is no “magic bullet” for drains.

Independent studies indicate to control listeria; the best one-two punch is an alkaline/ chlorinated degreaser and a peracetic acid sanitizer. For many companies, these items are already in your inventory, so you can minimize SKU’s along with chemical training.

Option number two – incorporating a two-part program which involves your team mixing two products on site. The chemical properties of these two items is one is based on a caustic solution and the other has hydrogen peroxide. By increasing the pH of peroxide, you raise its oxidizing potential so it attacks organic material faster.

The third option is using an EPA registered, high alkaline product with listeria monocytogenes claims, etc.

Biofilm is what creates all the challenges we deal with in controlling listeria, salmonella, e-coli, and the list goes on. The key to a successful program to eliminate this is agitation and/or mechanical action. We must eliminate the biofilm, thus eliminating the layering up effect which makes these microbes so difficult to destroy. The use of agitation in the sanitization process is not optional.

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In having the privilege to attend and/or participate in many seminars that focus specifically on listeria, the common theme is: “there are no shortcuts to administering an effective sanitation program; elbow grease and agitation is the best way to eliminate the bug concerns.”

It is all about making the right choice and taking ownership of your program. We are confident, with your knowledge and the resources available to you, the right choice becomes easier.

To learn more about how Spartan’s food processing sanitation program can help you control public enemy number one–biofilm, visit or contact Chris Celusta, Manager – Food Processing Sanitation, SQF 2000 Systems Certified, HACCP Certified, PCQI Certified at


Author: Chris Celusta, Manager – Food Processing Sanitation for Spartan Chemical Company, Inc.


One thought on “Public Enemy Number One

  1. Big problem usually faced; drains with low flow. We highly recomend maintance on those points, avoiding acumulation of any organic material that contributes to bacterial growth. Well done Chris! Thanks for sharing your expertise.


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