Most used disinfectants in the food industry

Cleaning and disinfection are key in the food industry to guarantee the safety and quality of products. It’s important to know that there are many types of disinfectants in the food industry with distinctive characteristics and thus choose the best product for your industry.

best disinfection products for the food industry
Hygienization, a process that includes cleaning and disinfection, is of great relevance in the food industries in order to guarantee the quality and safety of food. Currently, there are a multitude of products on the market to carry out sanitation. From single-phase products that allow cleaning and disinfection in one step, to combinations of a detergent and a disinfectant in two separate steps. Due to its relevance in the food industry and the many options that exist, it is essential to know very well the products that are available and which one best suits our needs. In this blog we will focus on talking about the most used disinfectants in the food industry.

The best disinfectants are regulated and registered

The goal of disinfectants is to cause the lysis, or death, of microorganisms, which is known as a biocidal action. This action is what allows us to reduce the bacterial load up to 95% on surfaces.

In the EU and in Spain the use of disinfectants is regulated. Biocidal substances are reviewed and authorized by the European Union, and in Spain, we also have the HA Registry for biocides, issued by the Ministry of Health.

In order to obtain the registration, and the consequent authorization for the commercialization of a disinfectant, it’s necessary that all the technical documentation provided for the disinfectant (eg: composition, components) to be approved and, the desired UNE efficacy tests, carried out in laboratories, be passed. certificates. Thus, the HA registration guarantees that the product complies with current regulations and that it has proven efficacy against declared microorganisms. These efficiencies can be against bacteria, what we call bactericidal activity, or against fungi and yeasts, fungicidal activity. On certain occasions, tests may be added to demonstrate efficacy against specific bacteria or viruses.

Another important aspect to note about disinfectants is that their effectiveness is conditioned to the correct application of the product. This means that it is very important to respect the contact times indicated by the manufacturer when applying the disinfectant. The biocidal action of disinfectants, in most cases, is not immediate and, in general, they require a minimum of five minutes to achieve bactericidal activity and a minimum of 15 minutes to achieve fungicidal activity.

In the same way, the concentration of the product indicated by the manufacturer must also be respected. Applying concentrations lower than those indicated will result in a reduction in efficacy and involves applying sublethal doses of the product, favoring the formation of spores and the appearance of resistance to disinfectants. Both spore formation and resistance to disinfectants are a serious problem in the food industry. Another measure that can be taken to avoid the formation of resistance to a disinfectant is to alternate the use of disinfectants with different active substances.

Finally, it should be noted that the presence of organic matter and dirt also causes a reduction in the effectiveness of most biocides. For this reason, it is essential to have carried out a good cleaning prior to disinfection.

Main disinfectants for the food industry by biocidal substance

There are different types of disinfectants on the market, differing according to the biocidal substance they contain and their effectiveness against different types of microorganisms. This efficacy can be more or less specific. That is, for a single type of microorganism (eg: bactericidal) or broad spectrum, with bactericidal, fungicidal and virucidal activity. The different biocidal substances, which give names to the different disinfectants for the food industry on the market, globally, are the following:

  • Chlorinated: They are compounds with a wide spectrum of action, effective against all microorganisms and also spores. Also, they are efficient at low temperatures and are usually low cost. They are especially sensitive to the presence of organic matter and are corrosive. They are products quite unstable to light and temperature, generating perchlorate as a by-product. Itram Higiene has several products in this category. Clora Jet and Clora Jet Plus, for foam cleaning of all types of surfaces, machinery and utensils and Brio Clor for cleaning facilities and automatic equipment by recirculation (CIP processes) in the food industry, washing tunnels for trays and plastic tray and plastic boxes.
  • Glutaraldehydes: They show bactericidal, fungicidal and virucidal activity. It is also effective against spores. They are toxic products by inhalation, so they pose a risk to operators. They are also corrosive products. Itram Hygiene has Bactotram 1000, which is a product that combines glutaraldehydes with quaternary ammoniums and is indicated for the disinfection of environments, equipment and work surfaces (tables, tapes, tanks), as well as floors, walls, ceilings, cold rooms, etc. … From different food sectors.
  • Alkylamines: Compounds with a very high efficacy against gram positive bacteria (G +), and with efficacy against gram negative bacteria (G-) and enveloped viruses, but they do not show efficacy against spores. They are very stable and compatible with surfactants, which allows their presence in foaming products. Itram Hygiene offers Bactotram 500, a disinfectant for food equipment and work surfaces and CIPs and Jet Bac for application with foam projection equipment and that have high cleaning power.
  • Acids (peracetic): Fast-acting oxidizing disinfectants that have bactericidal, fungicidal and virucidal activity and efficacy against spores when combined with hydrogen peroxide. They do not leave a residue, but can be corrosive. They are harmful by inhalation. Itram Hygiene offers several products with this component that also contain hydrogen peroxide: Bactitram Oxy 5, Bactitram Oxy 15 and OxyCIP for CIP circuits and OxyJet for the disinfection of open surfaces.
  • Alcohols: They present broad spectrum efficacy; bactericidal, fungicidal and also against enveloped viruses. They present a fast action (15s) but it does not persist. Itram hygiene has three products within this category. Itram Bac Alc, which also combines quaternary ammoniums and is indicated for intermediate disinfection on food contact surfaces and Alcolac Plus and Bactiviri, without quaternary ammoniums, also for intermediate disinfection of all types of surfaces.
  • Quaternary ammonia: Compounds that are effective against bacteria, fungi, yeasts and viruses. They are very stable and are not corrosive or irritating. They have residual power and are difficult to clarify, leaving residual concentrations. Currently, the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) is reviewing whether these residues pose a risk to human health. Itram Hygiene has three products with quaternary ammoniums, Itram bac 100, designed for the disinfection of external surfaces in the food industry, Bactotram 1000, which combines glutaraldehydes and quaternary ammoniums, and Itram bac alc, which combines quaternary ammoniums with alcohol.

There are many and very good disinfectants on the market to help the food industry maintain good hygiene and disinfection of facilities and ensure the safety of their productions. We must know the different products to choose the one that best suits our facilities and follow the indicated application indications to ensure their effectiveness.

Do you want to know more about the best disinfectants for the food industry?


       – Mercè Berga, R&D Technical assistant