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Evaluation of a Biological Pathogen Decontamination Protocol for Animal Feed Mills

Huss, Anne R., Cochrane, Roger A., Deliephan, Aiswariya, Stark, Charles R., Jones, Cassandra K.
Journal of food protection 2015 v.78 no.9 pp. 1682-1688
Enterococcus faecium, air, bacteria, cleaning, cleaning equipment, cross contamination, decontamination, diet, feed mills, feeds, heat, ingredients, manufacturing, pathogens, sanitizers, sodium hypochlorite, swine
Animal feed and ingredients are potential vectors of pathogenic bacteria. Contaminated ingredients can contaminate facility equipment, leading to cross-contamination of other products. This experiment was conducted to evaluate a standardized protocol for decontamination of an animal feed manufacturing facility using Enterococcus faecium (ATCC 31282) as an indicator. A pelleted swine diet inoculated with E. faecium was manufactured, and environmental samples (swabs, replicate organism detection and counting plates, and air samples) were collected (i) before inoculation (baseline data), (ii) after production of inoculated feed, (iii) after physical removal of organic material using pressurized air, (iv) after application of a chemical sanitizer containing a quaternary ammonium–glutaraldehyde blend, (v) after application of a chemical sanitizer containing sodium hypochlorite, (vi) after facility heat-up to 60 8 C for 24 h, (vii) for 48 h, and (viii) for 72 h. Air samples collected outside the facility confirmed pathogen containment; E. faecium levels were equal to or lower than baseline levels at each sample location. The decontamination step and its associated interactions were the only variables that affected E. faecium incidence (P < 0.0001 versus P > 0.22). After production of the inoculated diet, 85.7% of environmental samples were positive for E. faecium. Physical cleaning of equipment had no effect on contamination (P = 0.32). Chemical cleaning with a quaternary ammonium–glutaraldehyde blend and sodium hypochlorite each significantly reduced E. faecium contamination (P < 0.0001) to 28.6 and 2.4% of tested surfaces, respectively. All samples were negative for E. faecium after 48 h of heating. Both wet chemical cleaning and facility heating but not physical cleaning resulted in substantial E. faecium decontamination. These results confirmed both successful containment and decontamination of biological pathogens in the tested pilot-scale feed mill.