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Mastering Listeria: A fast response action plan for dealing with outbreaks.



The below is a basic outline of cleaning practices and chemical applications for cleaning and disinfecting, with a focus on addressing the breakdown of biofilm within the context of a potential Listeria outbreak in a food facility under the FSSC 22000 framework.


  1. Preparation: Before starting the cleaning process, ensure that all equipment is disassembled and accessible for thorough cleaning. This includes removing parts that are difficult to clean or reach.

  2. Dry Cleaning: Begin by dry cleaning to remove loose debris, such as food particles or dirt. Use brushes, scrapers, or air pressure to dislodge any visible dirt.

  3. Wet Cleaning: Use a suitable detergent or alkaline cleaner to break down organic residues. Make sure the detergent is compatible with food contact surfaces and equipment materials.

  4. Scrubbing: Use brushes or scrub pads to manually scrub surfaces, especially those with crevices or joints where Listeria can hide. Pay close attention to areas that are hard to reach.

  5. Rinsing: Thoroughly rinse all surfaces with clean water to remove detergent residues and loosened debris.

  6. Disinfection: Apply an approved disinfectant to kill any remaining Listeria. Ensure the disinfectant is suitable for food contact surfaces and effective against Listeria.

Chemical Applications:

  1. Quaternary Ammonium Compounds (Quats): Quats are commonly used disinfectants that are effective against Listeria. Ensure proper concentration and contact time for effective results.

  2. Chlorine Compounds: Chlorine-based sanitisers can be effective, but their efficacy can decrease in the presence of organic matter. Ensure proper concentration and pH levels.

  3. Peroxyacetic Acid (PAA): PAA-based sanitizers are known for their effectiveness against biofilms and Listeria. They can penetrate and disrupt biofilm layers.

  4. Hydrogen Peroxide: Hydrogen peroxide-based sanitizers can be used effectively, especially when combined with peracetic acid. They are known for their ability to break down biofilms.

  5. Enzymatic Cleaners: Enzymatic cleaners can be used to target biofilm breakdown. Enzymes help degrade the components of biofilms, making them easier to remove.

Biofilm Breakdown:

  1. Enzymatic Treatment: Use specialised enzymatic cleaners designed to target biofilms. These enzymes break down the matrix that holds the biofilm together.

  2. Mechanical Agitation: Scrubbing or using mechanical devices like rotary brushes can physically disrupt biofilm structures, making it easier for sanitizers to penetrate.

  3. Extended Contact Time: Allow disinfectants or enzymatic cleaners to have sufficient contact time to penetrate and break down biofilm layers effectively.

  4. Multiple Applications: In severe cases, multiple rounds of cleaning and disinfection may be needed to completely remove stubborn biofilms.

  5. Validation and Verification: Regularly validate and verify the effectiveness of cleaning and disinfection procedures, especially regarding biofilm removal, through swab testing and visual inspections.




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