High-Temperature Tools in Food Processing

Food processing regularly involves frying, roasting, pasteurization, and sterilization—all of which require varying degrees of heat. These hot surfaces call for tools that can withstand high temperatures to clean or handle food products.

High-temperature tools should comfortably be able to withstand temperatures of 212° F or above during their use, which means most conventional tools aren’t suited for the job. That’s why Remco and Vikan have recently launched a full high-temperature range of sanitation and material handling tools.

Generally, there are three main scenarios as to when these heat-resistant tools are required in a food processing environment:

  • Where there is the potential of debris on surfaces to harden when being cooled, hence they need to be removed while still hot;
  • Where conventional tools may become damaged, harm the equipment, and/or become a food safety or quality hazard when used on a heated surface; or
  • To minimize polymer/additive migration from a heated conventional handling tool to food or a hot food contact surface.

Here are some common guidelines to follow when using high-temperature tools in a food plant:

  1. Employee safety first – use the right PPE to protect employees from hot surfaces.
  2. Turn off the heat source when using the tools. The cooler the surface the better, as long as this does not influence debris removal or negatively influence cleaning procedures.
  3. Understand the variability of the process. High-temperatures alone may not be the only factor. Assess the other operating conditions, such as the chemicals being used, the applied mechanical force, the contact time, the surface type, and the soil.
  4. Select the right tools for the right job.
  5. Inspect tools often and replace bad or damaged tools immediately. Ensure proper storage, care, and maintenance to increase the life of the tools.
  6. Try out a sample tool on a small area before putting it to actual use to ensure it can withstand the heat and is able to clean the area.

Remco offers a range of temperature-resistant tools, such as brushes, scrapers, hoes, and paddles, in up to 9 colors. These tools are durable and withstand use in temperatures of up to 212° F on food contact surfaces and 347° F on non-food contact surfaces in 2-minute intervals.

To view Remco and Vikan’s high-temp range, click here.

Remco and Vikan Add Brush Manufacturing to the U.S.

Remco is committed to being a leading supplier of sanitation and material handling tools to the food processing industry. As a part of this commitment, we are now manufacturing Vikan brooms and brushes in the U.S.

Over the past several months, we renovated our existing manufacturing area to accommodate state-of-the-art brush machines and trained employees in the manufacturing processes. In the last two months, we started producing several of our most popular brooms and brushes here in Indiana. These brooms and brushes meet the same quality standards that you have come to expect from every Vikan product.

We are confident that accomplishing our goal of producing more products in the States will provide lasting benefits to our customers, and we are excited about the future opportunities that U.S.-based manufacturing will create. 

FDA Releases the ‘New Era of Smarter Food Safety’ Blueprint

On July 13, the FDA unveiled its master plan for creating a more digital, traceable, and safer food network system that should help bend the curve of foodborne illnesses in the U.S. Frank Yiannas, FDA Deputy Commissioner for Food Policy and Response, provided a timely justification for the launch of this ‘New Era’ Blueprint for the Future: “Foods are being reformulated, new foods and new production methods are being realized, and the food system continues to evolve. To succeed in these modern times, we need more modern approaches …”

FDA’s ‘New Era of Smarter Food Safety’ blueprint is the culmination of contributions from regulators, industry experts, and public comments in order to come up with an extensive, collaborative, and practical document based upon the following four core elements:

  1. Tech-enabled traceability approaches;
  2. Smarter tools and approaches for prevention and outbreak response;
  3. New business models and retail modernization; and
  4. Food safety culture.

These leveraging technologies, processes, and best practices are intended to support but not replace FSMA, while assisting the industry with developing compliant, prevention-based food safety systems. Moreover, the video message from FDA Commissioner Dr. Stephen Hahn emphasized that increasing relevance of the ‘New Era’ plan: “We know from our experience during the [COVID-19] pandemic that the blueprint is about those ideas whose time has come, and implementing them will strengthen our ability to protect the food supply, in good times and [in] bad [times]…”

Remco is proud to have participated by providing valuable public comments for FDA’s ‘New Era’ blueprint, and shares the vision of promoting smarter food safety by providing our end-users with high quality color-coded material handling tools like scoops, tubs, scrapers, mixing paddles, and much more. As a Vikan company, we also distribute innovative, hygienically designed cleaning tools and solutions (such as brushes, brooms, and squeegees) to food producers and manufacturers based in North America. For further information, please visit us at: remcoproducts.com.

 

References:

Transportation Cleaning Guide for COVID-19 and Beyond

Desperate times may call for desperate measures, but the cleaning routines many trucking agencies are adopting in response to COVID-19 have long been established in the form of GMP and basic sanitation requirements. However, with the SARS-CoV-2 pandemic still raging on, many food distributors are required to take extra preventative measures to ensure the health and safety of customers and drivers.

Regulatory agencies haven’t been lax, either. For instance, in the interest of public health, the CDC has provided interim cleaning and disinfection recommendations for non-emergency transport vehicles. Some of the key features of the guidelines are as follows:

  1. Insist employees strictly adhere to WHO and/or CDC guidelines on frequent hand washing, practicing respiratory etiquette, social-distancing, and quarantining if they have potential illness symptoms.
  2. Clean soils on the surfaces before applying the disinfectant. This is because viral loads tend to be greater on dirty surfaces filled with organic matter. Skipping the cleaning can result in the virus being present after disinfecting.
  3. Use EPA-approved or regulations-compliant disinfectants that are proven to be effective against COVID-19 and other coronaviruses. Follow the chemical manufacturer’s usage instructions.

There are further guidelines for enhancing the vehicle cleaning process during these times of crisis:

  • At a minimum, commonly touched surfaces need to be cleaned and disinfected at the beginning and end of each shift. As a precaution within the hospital sector, for instance, medical transport vans or vehicles should be cleaned and disinfected after use by the patients who are visibly ill.
  • When cleaning and disinfecting, workers should wear appropriate PPE, and the doors and windows should remain open for better airflow. If available, disposable or washable gowns are recommended. 
  • Clean different surfaces appropriately:
    • Hard, non-porous surfaces (steering wheels, hand rests, windows, door handles), should be cleaned with soap and water or a detergent before sanitizing.
    • Electronic surfaces (tablets or touch screens) should have visible dirt removed with a clean, dry cloth and then they should be disinfected, following the chemical manufacturer’s instructions. 
  • After cleaning, single-use PPE should be disposed of and work uniforms/reusable garments should be laundered using the highest temperature setting and dried completely. Workers should then immediately wash their hands for at least 20 seconds using soap and water, or use hand sanitizer (minimum of 60% alcohol) if washing facilities aren’t available. 
  • Insist on keeping a good vehicle cleaning checklist that covers the sanitation and disinfection of internal and external surfaces, frequency of cleaning, and a progress record.

Moreover, this is not an exhaustive list of recommendations. Please consult CDC, FDA, OSHA, and other guidelines for more details when setting up a cleaning plan.

As a precautionary note, the FDA has not yet found evidence as to whether the SARS-CoV-2 virus can be transmitted through food packaging. However, out of an abundance of caution, cleaning efforts must be increased due to the importance of the transport and distribution systems, as they are vital to maintaining the continuous flow of essential supplies, food, fuel, and medical equipment.

 

References:

US References:

Other Global References:

https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/covid-19-decontamination-in-non-healthcare-settings/covid-19-decontamination-in-non-healthcare-settings

https://www.food.gov.uk/business-guidance/businesses-that-supply-or-produce-food-on-the-move

https://www.rac.co.uk/drive/advice/how-to/how-to-clean-your-car-interior-to-reduce-the-risk-of-spreading-coronavirus/

 

Minimizing the risk of SARS-CoV-2 transmission through good cleaning and disinfection practices

What is SARS-CoV-2?

SARS-CoV-21,2 is a new strain of coronavirus that was discovered in Wuhan, China, in 2019. You may also see it referred to as the Wuhan novel coronavirus; 2019-nCoV; WN-CoV; HCoV-19 (SARS-2). SARS is the acronym for Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome, and CoV is that for Coronavirus.

What is COVID-19?

COVID-19 is the disease associated with SARS-CoV-2.

This white paper uses the terms SARS-CoV-2 in reference to the virus, and COVID-19 in reference to the viral infection.

How is it spread?

The primary route of transmission for SARS-CoV-2 is via inhalation of the aerosols and droplets created when an infected individual coughs or sneezes.

2009
Brian Judd

A single cough can produce up to 3,000 droplets. These droplets can land on the surrounding people, textiles and surfaces. Transmission of the virus can then also occur through touching the contaminated item, and subsequent touching of the mucous membranes of the mouth, nose or eyes.

The European Food Safety Authority (EFSA3) has stated that there is currently no evidence that food is a likely source or route of transmission of COVID-19. Experiences from previous outbreaks of related coronaviruses show that transmission through food consumption did not occur.

However, droplets and aerosols, created when an infected individual coughs or sneezes will settle onto the surface of unwrapped, ready-to-eat products like fruit, vegetables, and baked goods, and onto the surfaces that these foods are in contact with. Equally, goods like these could have virus transferred to them via contaminated hands when handled. At a recent World Health Organisation (WHO) webinar on coronavirus it was suggested, as a precaution,

  • to wash or peel fresh fruit and vegetables prior to consumption; and
  • that baked products be wrapped prior to display and sale.

If the products are hand packed, hands should be thoroughly washed and dried before handling the product.

SARS coronaviruses are easily inactivated by heat. Cooking or heating of food to a temperature >133° for a minimum of 15 minutes should destroy the virus on the surface of the food.

How long can SARS-CoV-2 remain viable in the environment?

A recent study4 has shown that the SARS-CoV-2 virus (specifically) can remain viable on cardboard for up to 24 hours, and for 2-3 days on plastic and stainless-steel surfaces. However, copper surfaces inactivated the virus in about four hours. Viability on clothing and hair is not yet known.

Virus viability on surfaces will depend on several factors including, the type of surface; the presence of organic material (biological fluids, biofilm, food debris); temperature; relative humidity; and the specific strain of the virus. 

How can the risk of COVID-19 transmission be minimized through cleaning and disinfection?

Viruses are tiny (up to 50 times smaller than bacteria), non-living particles that need a host (living cell) to reproduce. Their small size aids their transfer to and harbourage on surfaces, and the presence of organic matter, e.g., food and biological fluids, is likely to offer the virus some protection from disinfectants and surface antimicrobials (as it does for bacteria). Fortunately, viruses are effectively removed from surfaces through good cleaning practices, and enveloped viruses, such as SARS-CoV-2, are among the weakest or least resistant organisms to disinfection. Many disinfectants achieve their inactivation within minutes.

Consequently, routine cleaning and disinfection practices, using existing procedures, chemicals, and cleaning equipment, should continue as usual.

Cleaning methods and equipment

Visibly dirty surfaces should always be cleaned prior to disinfection. This can be achieved through:

  • manual cleaning e.g.,
    • wet cleaning: water; detergent; scrubbing; wiping; or
    • dry cleaning: brushing; scraping; wiping; or
  • mechanical cleaning e.g.,
    • wet cleaning: use of floor scrubbers; hoses; foaming; or
    • dry cleaning: use of vacuum cleaners, etc.

 

The use of microfiber for cleaning

In principle, microfiber should be effective at removing viruses from surfaces in the same way as it is for bacteria, i.e., through electrostatic attraction (when used dry), or capillary action (when used damp). There are very few peer-reviewed published studies5,6 on the use of microfiber for virus removal and none (currently) in relation to SARS-CoV-2. Microfiber (both re-useable and disposable) used damp or dry, without the use of chemical disinfectants, is unlikely to inactivate SAR-CoV-2. Consequently, Vikan recommends the following,

  • Disposable microfiber: Use a separate disposable microfiber cloth or mop for each different surface cleaned and dispose of immediately after use.
  • Re-useable microfiber: Change frequently, and launder after use, using a minimum wash cycle of 56°C for 15 minutes or thermal equivalent to ensure destruction of the virus before re-use.
  • Clean and disinfect hands and equipment, e.g., floor mop frames, thoroughly after use.

All cleaning activities can spread contamination. Choose the right cleaning equipment and method to maximize contamination removal and minimize its spread.

Cleaning equipment and the personal protective equipment (PPE), use during cleaning, can themselves become vectors for SARS-CoV-2 transmission. To minimize the risk of virus harbourage and transfer Vikan and Remco recommends:

  • cleaning and disinfection of re-useable cleaning equipment and PPE before first use, and between use by different workers;
  • choosing equipment that is single-use, or hygienically designed (easy to clean and disinfect);
  • disposing of single-use cleaning equipment and PPE immediately after use. This could include,
    • disposable cloths and mops; gloves; arm covers; aprons; boot covers; hairnets and beard covers; earplugs.
  • Disposable items that have been used with a disinfectant will be safe to dispose of immediately, through normal waste disposal routes. The residual disinfectant will continue to work
    to inactivate the virus.
  • For disposable items not used with a disinfectant, these can be double bagged and quarantined for 72 hours as a precaution, before disposal via the normal route.
  • Regular inspection and replacement of damaged or worn cleaning equipment and PPE.

Further information on the selection of hygienically designed cleaning tools; and cleaning tool maintenance, can be found at

  • http://viewer.ipaper.io/vikan/food-safety-information/ultra-hygiene/ultra-hygiene-advertorial-en-300/#/
  • http://viewer.ipaper.io/vikan/white-papers/cleaning-tool-maintenance/cleaning-tool-maintenance-whitepaper-en-300/#/

 Disinfection

Chemical disinfection

Many disinfectants are active against coronaviruses7,8 and achieve their effective inactivation within minutes. Those currently recommended by the World Health Organization (WHO), for environmental disinfection associated with SARS-CoV-2 in healthcare facilities9, include:

  • 70% Ethyl alcohol to disinfect reusable equipment between uses.
  • Sodium hypochlorite at 0.5% (equivalent 5000ppm) for disinfection of frequently touched surfaces.

For those in the U.S. and countries that follow the guidance of the US-EPA, visit https://www.epa.gov/pesticide-registeration/list-n-disinfectants-use-against-sars-cov-2 and use your EPA registration number to identify suitable disinfectants.

For those in Europe and countries using the EN norms, use a disinfectant that has approval (partial approval for enveloped viruses) to EN 14476; EN 1276; or EN 13697.

Further good sources of information for cleaning and disinfection of other environments can be found at,

  • https://www.ecdc.europa.eu/sites/default/files/documents/coronavirus-SARS-CoV-2-guidance-environmental-cleaning-non-healthcare-facilities.pdf
  • https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/prepare/cleaning-disinfection.html

Alcohol disinfectants (60 – 85%) can be used for rapid disinfection of relatively small surfaces and can be applied using a spray bottle, or a cloth (preferably disposable) impregnated with the alcohol. Use a fresh cloth for each surface disinfected.

Sodium hypochlorite (1,000 – 5,000ppm) solutions can also be applied to small surfaces using a spray bottle or cloth. For disinfection of larger equipment and surfaces (at least once a day) it can be applied through use of a larger spray system, or manually using a cloth or wash brush. In all cases the hypochlorite should be left in contact with the equipment/surface, for an *appropriate period, prior to rinsing.

In food and beverage production facilities, due to the materials of equipment and facility construction, levels of hypochlorite around 1,000ppm are suggested, as is the use of Peracetic acid. This will reduce the risk of material corrosion and product taint respectively.

*The contact time of any disinfectant formulation used should be checked with the chemical supplier. The contact time needs to be sufficient to allow it to inactivate the virus.

Whole room disinfection is the use of a fine mist of liquid disinfectant (fogging) or biocidal gas (gassing) to disinfect a whole room. This technique can be used to reduce the level of micro-organisms in the air and on surfaces. Whole room disinfection can be used in addition to normal cleaning and disinfection practices but should not replace them. 

Not all disinfectants are suitable for whole room disinfection using fogging (Table 1), including those recommended by WHO for control of SARS-CoV-2.

Table 1: Chemical disinfectants suitable for whole room fogging

Disinfectant

Suitability for fogging

QAC

Yes

Amphoteric

Yes

Biguanide

Yes

Iodophor

Partially

PAA

Partially

Alcohol

No

Chlorine

No

Courtesy of CampdenBRI

 

Hydrogen peroxide and ozone, both of which can be used for whole room disinfection in gaseous form, are effective against viruses, including the SARS coronavirus7,8.

Use of microfiber for application of chemical disinfectants

If microfiber (both re-useable, and single-use, disposable cloths, and mops) is used in combination with a chemical disinfectant for SARS-CoV-2 control, the disinfectant should be one that is effective against viruses. These can either be applied directly to the surface and then wiped off with a mop/cloth or dosed onto the mop/cloth.

Note: Microfiber efficacy is based on the ability of the microfibers to attract and hold contamination through electrostatic (why dry) and capillary (when damp) action. The use of chemicals that contain alcohol, chlorine, and strong acids and alkalis may damage the fibers and affect their efficacy.

Thermal disinfection

Heat at 133°F can also be used to inactivate the SARS coronavirus10. Use wash/rinse water at >133oF for cleaning and disinfection, and steam disinfection after cleaning. Small, washable equipment and utensils can be decontaminated using an industrial or domestic dishwasher, with a wash cycle that utilizes a minimum wash temperature of 133°F for a minimum of 15 minutes. Laundry or thermal equivalent (including protective clothing and cleaning cloths), and small washable cleaning tools and utensils can also be decontaminated by using a washing machine with the same minimum cycle settings.

Ultraviolet disinfection

Short wavelength (264nm) UVC light has been shown to inactivate viruses but no studies have yet been conducted involving SARS-CoV-2.

Antimicrobial surfaces and equipment

The antimicrobials impregnated into some surfaces and equipment may also serve to protect against virus transmission, but no studies have yet been conducted involving SARS-CoV-2. Surface antimicrobials work well on relatively clean surfaces but organic matter (e.g., food; biofilms; biological fluids) shields the virus from the antimicrobial. Importantly, they need time (hours) to work effectively, by which time the virus may have already been transferred. Standard cleaning and disinfection techniques are faster and more effective for minimizing the risk of virus transmission, especially for frequently touched surfaces.

What else can be done?

Given the recent scientific findings that SARS-CoV-2 can survive on surfaces for 2-3 days, more frequent cleaning and disinfection of frequently touched surfaces, e.g., door handles; handrails; door push plates; turnstiles; trolley and bucket handles; taps; hoses; cleaning tools and utensils is recommended, ideally after contact by each different individual.     

This cleaning and disinfection should also extend to surfaces in non-food handling areas such as toilets; changing rooms; offices; canteens; and vehicles.

If an individual is diagnosed with COVID-19, it may be appropriate to additionally decontaminate all surfaces that the person could have come into contact with.

More frequent hand hygiene practices (washing; drying; use of appropriate hand sanitizers; use of disposable disinfectant wipes) are also recommended. An appropriate method for hand hygiene is shown in Appendix 1. Effective hand sanitizers include those containing at least 60% alcohol.

Companies and individuals may like to implement a disposable gloving policy. If this is done, careful consideration must be given to when the gloves

are used and removed to ensure that the gloves themselves do not become a vector for viral transmission.

Gloving and the use of hand sanitizers/wipes should not replace good hand washing and drying practices.

Everyone should be aware of how they themselves could cause the spread of COVID-19 and of the precautions, recommended by WHO11, that they should take to minimize this,

  • wash their hands regularly;
  • cover their mouth and nose when coughing and sneezing
  • avoid close contact (<2 meters) with anyone coughing and sneezing.

They should also understand the sources of contamination, i.e.,

  • aerosols and droplets from coughing and sneezing; and
  • surfaces,

and how transfer can occur,

  • through inhalation of virus particles in aerosols and droplets;
  • through the transfer of virus particles from coughs, sneezes, and surfaces to hand;
  • from hands to mucus membranes (nose, mouth, eyes); and
  • from hands back to surfaces.

Follow advice from trusted sources, including WHO (https://www.who.int/), and Government bodies. For example, the UK Government have recently issued the following Guidance to the food industry:

https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/covid-19-guidance-for-food-businesses/ and government bodies.

Personal hygiene, disease prevention and healthcare educational infographic: how to wash your hands properly step by step and how to use hand sanitizer

 

References

1. https://www.who.int/health-topics/coronavirus#tab=tab_1 2. https://www.who.int/emergencies/diseases/novel-coronavirus-2019/events-as-they-happen 3. https://www.efsa.europa.eu/en/news/novel-coronavirus-where-find-information 4. https://www.nejm.org/doi/full/10.1056/NEJMc2004973?query=featured_home 5. https://www.infectioncontroltoday.com/environmental-hygiene/understanding-microfibers-role-infection-prevention 6. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3346440/ 7. https://www.journalofhospitalinfection.com/article/S0195-6701(20)30046-3/pdf 8. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/15923059 9. https://www.who.int/emergencies/diseases/novel-coronavirus-2019/technical-guidance/infection-prevention-and-control 10. https://www.who.int/csr/sars/survival_2003_05_04/en/ 11. https://www.who.int/emergencies/diseases/novel-coronavirus-2019/advice-for-public

Ensuring U.S. and Global Food Safety During the COVID-19 Crisis

“There is no evidence, as yet, regarding the transmission of COVID-19 through food or food packaging” – this was the reassuring message echoed by Frank Yiannas, FDA’s Deputy Commissioner of Food Policy and Response, at the March 18th Industry Stakeholder Meeting. Some other key points discussed during the meeting were as follows:

  • COVID-19 infection does not lead to gastrointestinal foodborne illness. Rather, the disease affects an individual’s respiratory system;
  • The FDA will continue to conduct critical inspections related to Class 1 recalls and respond to outbreaks and other public health emergencies under its jurisdiction;
  • No food recalls are generally required, and also products are not required to be put on hold if someone in a facility is diagnosed with COVID-19;
  • If a worker is diagnosed with COVID-19, the facility should contact their health department, follow the CDC guidelines, and perform deep cleaning and sanitizing of the production area.

The World Health Organization (WHO) declared the SARS-CoV-2 virus outbreak a global pandemic on March 11th, and since then, some panic-stricken shoppers have been stockpiling food due to uncertainty regarding its near-future availability in groceries. Such fears are unwarranted since food processors and retailers will continue working since ensuring a safe food supply to consumers is a critical function of the global economy. WHO has provided some reassuring guidance for food businesses on how to operate safely during the COVID-19 crisis, and salient points are as follows 1:

  • Employees’ safety is of the top-most concern. The main focus is to prevent the virus from entering the facility, and to avoid person-to-person transmission within the food facility.
  • Employees are made aware, and if found with COVID-19 symptoms, they are excluded from the workplace. Fitness-to-work protocols need to be strictly followed.
  • Staff protection measures are reinforced, e.g. using appropriate personal protection equipment, practicing social-distancing, and following hand washing and respiratory etiquette.
  • Extra precautions are taken when securely receiving and transporting products, or when meeting visitors in the facility.
  • Open and exposed food displays, like self-serve salad bars, should be avoided in order to minimize incidents of potential COVID-19 transmission among employees.
  • A complete deep cleaning of the facility should be ensured prior to and after the production run, and regular sanitizing of “high touch points” is followed.

Remco, as providers of high quality, color-coded material handling, hygiene, and sanitation tools are here to assist our end users in helping keep the food facility environment cleaner and safer. For more information about food processing and COVID-19, click here.

References:

IAFP/WHO Webinar (April 3, 2020) “EPI-WIN COVID-19: How to Ensure and Maintain Food Supply and How to Protect Workers in the Food Industry and at Retail”

Minimizing the Risk of COVID-19 Infection in Food Manufacturing

Sanitizing with tube brush

What is COVID-19?

COVID-191,2 is the disease associated with a new strain of coronavirus that was discovered in 2019. You may also see it referred to as the Wuhan novel coronavirus, 2019-nCoV, WN-CoV, HCoV-19 (SARS-2), or SARS-CoV-2, where SARS is the acronym for Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome, and CoV is that for Coronavirus. This blog uses the terms COVID-19 in reference to the viral infection, and SARS-CoV-2 in reference to the virus.

How is it spread?

We know that the primary transmission route for COVID-19 is via inhalation of the aerosols and droplets created when an infected individual coughs or sneezes. A single cough can produce up to 3,000 droplets, which can land on nearby people, clothing, and surfaces. Transmission of the disease can also happen through touching a contaminated surface and then touching the mucous membranes of the nose or eyes.

A recent study3 has shown that SARS-CoV-2 (specifically) can survive on cardboard for up to 24 hours, and for 2-3 days on plastic and stainless-steel surfaces. The survival time on clothing is not yet known. We do know the survival time depends on several factors, including the type of surface, temperature, relative humidity, and the specific strain of the virus. 

The European Food Safety Authority (EFSA4) has stated that there is currently no evidence that food is a likely source or route of transmission of COVID-19. Experiences from previous outbreaks of related coronaviruses show that transmission through food consumption did not occur.

How can the risk of COVID-19 infection be minimized through cleaning and disinfection?

Viruses vs Bacteria

The main difference between bacteria and viruses is that bacteria are living cells that can grow and reproduce independently in most environments. Viruses are non-living particles that need a host (living cells) to reproduce. Virus particles can be up to 50 times smaller than bacterial cells. This aids their transfer to and harborage on surfaces. SARS-CoV-2 has been reported to survive on surfaces for 2-3 days. Some bacteria are known to survive for years. The presence of organic matter, e.g., food and biological fluids, is likely to offer viruses some protection from disinfectants and surface antimicrobials (as it does for bacteria), but both are effectively removed through good cleaning practices. Enveloped viruses, such as SARS-CoV-2, are among the weakest or least resistant organisms to disinfection. Many disinfectants are active against them and achieve their effective inactivation within minutes.

Consequently, routine cleaning and disinfection practices, using existing procedures, chemicals, and cleaning equipment, should continue as usual.

Additionally, given the recent scientific findings that SARS-CoV-2 can survive on surfaces for 2-3 days, more frequent cleaning and disinfection of touchpoints like door handles, handrails, door push plates, hoses, instrument panels, faucets, cleaning tools, and utensils, should be conducted. This cleaning and disinfection should also extend to surfaces in non-food handling areas such as restrooms, locker rooms, offices, break rooms, and vehicles.

Companies and individuals may like to implement a disposable gloving policy. If this is done, careful consideration must be given to when the gloves are used and removed, to ensure that the gloves themselves do not become a vector for viral transmission. The use of appropriate hand sanitizers, e.g., alcohol-based, could also be beneficial, though neither that nor gloving should replace good hand washing practices.

If a key food worker is diagnosed with COVID-19, it may be appropriate to decontaminate all surfaces that the worker could have come into contact with.

Cleaning

Visibly dirty surfaces should always be wet or dry cleaned prior to disinfection. This can be achieved through manual cleaning such as brushing, scrubbing, scraping, wiping, or through mechanical cleaning like the use of floor scrubbers, vacuum cleaners, etc., to remove the gross soiling. Remember that all cleaning activities can spread contamination. Use cleaning methods and materials the maximize contamination removal and minimize it spread.

Disinfection

Use 70% ethyl alcohol to disinfect surfaces like small reusable equipment (such as cleaning tools and utensils) and frequently touched surfaces (like door handles, handrails, etc.). This can be done by using a spray bottle or a disposable cloth. Use a fresh cloth for each piece of equipment/surface disinfected.

Sodium Hypochlorite and Peracetic acid are also effective chemicals for neutralizing viruses on surfaces. Food processors should work with chemical manufacturers to ensure proper dosage, contact times, and application. Not all chemicals are suitable for all surfaces. 

As an alternative to Sodium Hypochlorite and Peracetic acid, a disinfectant that has passed EN 14476:2013 + A1 2015 can be used, at its highest recommended in-use concentration.

Heat at 133°F can also be used to kill the SARS coronavirus5. Small, washable equipment and utensils can be readily decontaminated using an industrial or domestic dishwasher, with a wash cycle that utilizes a minimum wash temperature of 133°F for a minimum of 15 minutes. Laundry (including protective clothing and cleaning cloths), and small washable cleaning tools and utensils can also be decontaminated by using a washing machine with the same minimum cycle settings.

What else can be done?

All those involved in food production, processing, distribution, sale, and delivery should be aware of how they themselves could cause the spread of COVID-19 and of the precautions, recommended by WHO, that they should take to minimize this:

  • wash their hands regularly;
  • cover their mouth and nose when coughing and sneezing;
  • avoid close contact (<6 feet) with anyone coughing and sneezing.

They should also understand the sources of contamination, i.e., aerosols and droplets from coughing and sneezing and how the transfer can occur,

  • through inhalation of virus particles in aerosols and droplets;
  • through the transfer of virus particles from coughs, sneezes, and surfaces to hand;
  • from hands to mucus membranes (nose, mouth, eyes); and
  • from hands back to surfaces.

Cleaning equipment can itself become a vector for SARS-CoV-2 transmission. To minimize the risk of virus harborage and transfer choose equipment that is either single-use or hygienically designed (easy to clean and disinfect). Clean the equipment (by rinsing or wiping) and disinfect (using a suitable disinfectant solution, spray or wipe) between use by different workers. Further information on cleaning tool decontamination can be found here.

Specific recommendations for surface cleaning and disinfection regarding SARS-CoV-2 control are provided by the Center for Disease Control and Prevention6.

 

References

  1. https://www.who.int/health-topics/coronavirus#tab=tab_1
  2. https://www.who.int/emergencies/diseases/novel-coronavirus-2019/events-as-they-happen
  3. https://www.nejm.org/doi/full/10.1056/NEJMc2004973?query=featured_home
  4. https://www.efsa.europa.eu/en/news/novel-coronavirus-where-find-information
  5. https://www.who.int/csr/sars/survival_2003_05_04/en/
  6. https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/prepare/cleaning-disinfection.html

 

Remco Introduces the Vikan Transport Line

The Vikan Transport Line is Now Available Through Remco!

Vehicles have different needs than factories or restaurants when it comes to cleaning. Car paint requires brushes to be soft and yet able to tackle tough grime. Windows need squeegees that are curved to handle the glass of different sizes. Tires require tough bristles that are shaped to be effective in small openings without scratching rims. For years, Vikan’s highly regarded transport line has helped drivers around the globe keep their wheels shining and their paint gleaming. Remco is proud to bring that line to North America.

Soft-Bristled Brushes

Gearheads know that finding a brush that cleans without scratching delicate paint isn’t an easy task. Luckily, Vikan’s hand brushes in the transport line are all made with soft filaments that wipe dirt and debris away without compromising paint jobs.

Soft/split bristle types are especially good at carrying detergent and water across larger areas, making them the perfect choice for washing. The soft brushes are excellent at sweeping away debris and can also be used with soap/water later in the process.

  • Soft Hand Brush
  • Soft/Split Hand Brush
  • Soft/Split Multi-Purpose/Rim Hand Brush

Waterfed brooms and larger brushes can be attached to handles to fit the needs of truckers. Attached to telescopic handles that reach up to 109 inches, these brooms and brushes can reach almost anywhere. Because they can be hooked up directly to hoses, you can wash the largest trucks and vans easily.

  • Waterfed Vehicle Brush with Adjustable Head
  • Waterfed Vehicle Brush
  • Waterfed High/Low Washing Brush
  • Soft/Split Waterfed Vehicle Brush

Tire and Detail Brushes

Specialty surfaces require specialty brushes. Whether you need to clean vents, tires, wheel wells, moldings, or dashboards, we have a car detailing brush to do the job. Brushes have stiff to soft bristles depending upon their intended use.

  • Interior Brush
  • Detail Brush Set
  • Long Handle Detail Brush Set
  • Stiff Rim Cleaning Hand Brush

Squeegees

Squeegees are essential for a streak-free shine. They can be used on windows or even on bodies after cleaning. Vikan offers two types of transport line squeegees: the Windshield Sponge/Squeegee that works well with windows, and the Wipe-N-Shines, which can be used on windows and truck/car bodies. The patented rubber-bladed Wipe-N-Shine Squeegees attach to any Vikan handle for added reach.

  • Windshield Sponge/Squeegee
  • 10-14” Wipe-N-Shine Squeegees

 

The Six-Stage Vehicle Cleaning Process

Professional cleaning requires the correct approach as well as the right tools. The Vikan six-stage process will leave the exterior of your vehicle spotlessly clean:

  1. Apply a good foam mix of detergent and water.
  2. Leave the vehicle to soak for a couple of minutes so that the dust and dirt loosen and bind to the foam.
  3. Wash the vehicle with lots of clean water to remove the dust and dirt, and prevent them from scratching the paintwork when using a brush.
  4. Using a water-fed or standard hand brush, wash the vehicle with water and detergent.
  5. Rinse the vehicle thoroughly with clean water.
  6. Use the rubber-bladed Wipe-n-Shine to remove wash water, and leave windows and paintwork streak-free.

Focus on FSMA: Looking Forward to a Year of Produce Safety Improvements

Produce safety changes in 2020

According to the World Health Organization, low consumption of fresh fruits and vegetables has been shown to be a significant risk factor potentially contributing to cancer, heart disease, and strokes around the globe. Indeed, nutrition experts have recommended a minimum individual daily intake of 400 g of various fresh produce commodities.1 However, eating fresh fruits and vegetables isn’t without risk, as there are minimal processing steps (such as washing, cutting, and packing) even when they’re not just eaten raw. This can and does increase the chances of produce cross-contamination that may result in foodborne illnesses.

Last year, in 2019, a significant number of disease outbreaks and recalls were linked to the produce sector. Some of the key food safety incidents that made headlines were on:

  • Multi-state coli O157:H7 outbreak associated with romaine lettuce from Salinas growing region in California, that led to about 138 reported illnesses and 72 hospitalizations;
  • Nationwide recall of Ready-to-eat (RTE) vegetable products from various retail outlets due to potential risk of Listeria monocytogenes found in produce sourced from a common supplier;
  • Outbreak of Salmonella Uganda infections (reported in nine U.S. States) linked to whole, fresh papayas imported from a Mexican farm.

Not surprisingly, the U.S. is currently a net importer of fresh produce.2 Just over half of the fresh fruit and almost a third of fresh vegetables consumed by the American public are imported from other countries such as Mexico, Chile, and Canada. The risks to food and produce safety are greatly aggravated if suppliers do not have adequate preventive food safety controls in place. Thus, it became imperative for the U.S. federal government to enact the 2011 Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA), which basically provides the FDA with a proactive authority to regulate the way foods are sourced or grown, harvested, processed, stored, and transported for interstate or international commerce.3

In 2020, we should expect stakeholders to build upon the existing regulatory framework or initiatives in order to foster better Produce Safety improvements, and with a collaborative objective of providing safe and wholesome food to the public. Some of the key things coming in this arena are as follows:

1. Produce Safety Rule compliance date for very small farms is nearing:

The FSMA Final Rule on Produce Safety was published on January 26, 2016, with the aim of providing minimum food safety standards for growing, harvesting, packing and holding of fruits and vegetables.4 Most of the compliance deadlines have passed, but then the compliance date for the very small produce farms (other than sprouts – which has a separate compliance date) shall be January 27, 2020.

2. Supplier traceability challenges should make industry adopt smarter food safety technologies:

To enable a faster foodborne outbreak response in the interest of public health, more reliable information, better processes and updated technologies will be required by industry to track the source and destinations of contaminated produce. According to Frank Yiannas, the FDA deputy commissioner for food safety, facilitating the adoption of newer traceability technologies (such as blockchain) in the produce sector will usher in a New Era of Smarter Food Safety that is people-led, FSMA-based, and technology enabled.5

3. Sanitation and hygiene will become a greater produce sector focus:

There will be an enhanced requirement to strengthen the foundation of Good Agricultural Practices and the key risk-based sanitation programs on farms that should help prevent microbial contamination of the marketable produce, associated food recalls, and foodborne disease outbreaks. Examples of these practices include ensuring worker health and hygiene; overall plant sanitation and cleaning; organizing growing, harvesting, packing, and holding activities; ensuring the proper quality of agricultural water and soil amendments; and properly maintaining equipment, tools, and buildings. Moreover, it has been generally estimated that poor sanitary conditions at a plant or site is responsible for at least one-third of North American food recalls, and a lot of direct and indirect expenses could be avoided through proper sanitation strategies.6

Remco can help the food industry, as a well as the produce sector, with the right selection, storage, care and maintenance criteria for sanitation and material handling implements that are required for a sanitary and more hygienic food production environment. More information about our tools are available at https://remcoproducts.com/products/.

 

Selected References:

(1) WHO: Global Strategy on Diet, Physical Activity and Health – https://www.who.int/dietphysicalactivity/fruit/index1.html

(2) The U.S. Trade Situation for Fruit and Vegetable Products – https://fas.org/sgp/crs/misc/RL34468.pdf

(3) FDA Food Safety Modernization Act – https://www.fda.gov/food/guidance-regulation-food-and-dietary-supplements/food-safety-modernization-act-fsma

(4) FSMA Final Rule On Produce Safety – https://www.fda.gov/food/food-safety-modernization-act-fsma/fsma-final-rule-produce-safety

(5) New Era of Smarter Food Safety – https://www.fda.gov/food/food-industry/new-era-smarter-food-safety

(6) Evaluating FDA Food Recalls with Sanitation as a Root Cause – https://www.vikan.com/media/8428/2019_iafp-poster_amitmkheradia-us.pdf

A Year in Regulations: Key Food Safety Developments for 2019 and 2020

With the new year just around the corner, it’s time to reflect on what changed in 2019 and what’s to come for 2020 in the world of food safety. Significant foodborne illness outbreaks and recalls this year put an increased focus on farm-to-fork accountability. For many food processors, this meant reevaluating their facility’s food safety efforts and those of their suppliers.

  • Foreign material contamination forced a recall of over 11 million pounds of frozen and RTE chicken strips
  • Salmonella Uganda infections spread and are potentially related to whole, fresh papayas
  • An coli O157:H7 outbreak linked to Romaine lettuce

The following five trends should influence the food safety landscape in North America next year:

1. Regulatory performance metrics should drive FSMA implementation – The FDA has launched a food safety dashboard, FDA-TRACK, to help evaluate how well the FSMA rules are being implemented, and whether there is any need for improvement from the industry to control foodborne outbreaks, recalls and product contamination. More information about this agency-wide program is available on the FDA’s website.

2. There will be a focus on modernizing food production lines – As an example, FSIS-USDA just announced a final rule for facilitating the establishment of a New Swine Slaughter Inspection System aimed at allowing for food safety innovations while not compromising the goal of protecting public health.

3. Regulations will increasingly influence regional food safety developments – In the U.S., phased implementation of the Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA) through targeted FDA’s Final Rules has been making its mark. Meanwhile, Canada’s Safe Food for Canadians Regulations (SFCR), came into force on January 15th of this year. We should expect to see closer collaboration between the FDA and the CFIA in order to streamline and align their food safety systems to ensure a seamless regional trade partnership. Explore our recent white paper on Canada’s SFCR in our Knowledge Center.

4. Hygienic design will be a much bigger industry focus – A new working group has just started their work on integrating hygienic design elements with the existing GFSI requirements (with a globalized farm-to-fork food safety approach) under scope K, covering food processing/handling equipment and facilities. This will facilitate the eventual adoption of hygienic design elements by the industry as it’s implemented in GFSI-benchmarked standards like BRC and SQF.

5. We will be entering a New Smarter Era of Food Safety, and maybe sooner than expected – Frank Yiannas, the FDA deputy commissioner for Food Policy & Response, has been spearheading the agency’s efforts to develop a strategic plan on leveraging technology, smarter tools, and best practices for creating a more digital, traceable, and safer food safety system. Through Frank’s previous professional work experience with Disney and Walmart, he has aptly evaluated that implementing such a novel regulatory approach requires continuous collaboration and communication with the industry and relevant stakeholders. A brief summary of the FDA’s approach is available on their website.

2020-2021 Compliance Dates to Remember:

 Type

Details

Compliance Date

GFSI-based standard

FSSC 22000 Version 5

Auditable from Jan. 1, 2020

 

 

 

 

 

U.S. FSMA Final Rules

PRODUCE SAFETY rule compliance for all produce types (for all farm sizes); other produce (remaining water requirements for large farms); other produce (very small farms except certain water requirements)

 

Jan. 27, 2020

FOREIGN SUPPLIER VERIFICATION PROGRAM rule compliance for importers of animal food whose foreign supplier is a qualified facility (including very small businesses) subject to PCAF, PC but not CGMP requirements

 

March 17, 2020

INTENTIONAL ADULTERATION rule for small businesses

July 27, 2020

FOREIGN SUPPLIER VERIFICATION PROGRAM rule compliance for importers whose very small business foreign supplier is subject to the Produce Safety rule

 

July 27, 2020

 

 

 

Canadian SFCR Compliance

Written Preventive Control Plan for fresh fruit and vegetables facilities

Jan. 15, 2020

Licensing, traceability and written Preventive Control Plan compliance for other food facilities (except meat, fish, eggs, dairy, processed fruits or vegetables, honey, maple products, and fresh fruits & vegetables) with gross income >CDN100K and >5 employees

 

July 15, 2020

 

Licensing and traceability requirements compliance for other food facilities with gross income >CDN100K and <5 employees

July 15, 2020

 

Written Preventive Control Plan compliance for other food facilities with gross income >CDN100K and <5 employees

July 15, 2021

Licensing and traceability requirements compliance for other food facilities with gross income of <=CDN100K

July 15, 2020

Preventive Controls compliance for other food facilities with gross income of <=CDN100K

July 15, 2021

 Remco believes that using the right sanitary implements – and through their selection, storage, care, and maintenance – has a vital role in maintaining a cleaner and safer food production environment. Our line of food-safe offerings includes color-coded material handling and cleaning tools like scoops, tubs, brushes, squeegees, and more. Additional information about our products is available at remcoproducts.com/products/.

 

Links for Additional Information: