What is an Antimicrobial?

We talk a lot about antimicrobial technology, but what does the term actually mean? How do you even pronounce antimicrobial? And more importantly, why should you care? Microban is taking this opportunity to enlighten you.

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Defining Antimicrobial Technology

Antimicrobial: adjective | an·ti·mi·cro·bi·al | ˌan-ti-mī-ˈkrō-bē-əl - Destroying or inhibiting the growth of microorganisms and especially pathogenic microorganisms.

For Microban, antimicrobial technology can be defined as a substance that works to inhibit the growth and reproduction of harmful bacteria, mold and mildew.

Unlike disinfectants which provide a limited residual activity once the treated surface dries, integrated antimicrobial technology works to continuously minimize the presence of microbes throughout the entire lifecycle of a product.

Mbns18 Microban Antibacterial Antifungal Antimicrobial

What is An Antimicrobial Additive?

An antimicrobial additive is a substance that contains an appropriately registered antimicrobial agent. Integrated at the stage of manufacture, an antimicrobial additive will provide around-the-clock hygienic protection for the expected lifetime of a product. Additive formulations are based on a series of factors including target material and production processes. Microban offers antimicrobial additives in the following forms:

  • Liquid
  • Powder
  • Masterbatch Pellet

What Are the Active Ingredients in Antimicrobial Technology?

Antimicrobial technology typically contains one of three inorganic active ingredients:

  • Silver ion antimicrobials: suitable for a wide range of materials and applications, including medical coatings, plastics and food-contact products.
  • Zinc antimicrobials: a broad spectrum antimicrobial that is commonly favored for it's antifungal properties.
  • Copper antimicrobials: often used as a preservative and is popular for medical products and surfaces.

Antimicrobial technologies can also consist of organic active ingredients such as Quaternary Ammonium Compounds (QUATs).

The chosen biocide is largely dependent on the product type, where in the world it will be sold, and what efficacy claims the manufacturer is looking to make. Microban's portfolio contains more than 25 approved antimicrobial technologies, each customized for effective use across a variety of industries and applications.

What's the Difference Between Antibiotics and Antimicrobials?

Many substances can be described as antimicrobial. These include antibiotics and antimicrobial additives. However, there are key differences between the two terms.

  • Antimicrobials: can be built-in to almost any product or surface to continuously inhibit the growth of bacteria, mold and mildew.
  • Antibiotics: administered as medicine for consumption by humans and animals only. Antibiotics only have efficacy against bacteria.

Beyond the Definitions

More than just a scientific definition, Microban® antimicrobial technology goes above and beyond to ensure products stay cleaner, fresher and more hygienic to use for longer. Treatable materials include plastics, paints, textiles and ceramics.

Microban® antimicrobial technologies have undergone extensive independent laboratory testing and have a long history of safe use. The biocidal active components of Microban® antimicrobial additives are notified with the Biocidal Products Regulation (BPR) and approved for use by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).

For use in direct food contact applications, Microban has a selection of antimicrobial technologies regulated under the Food Contact Materials Framework Regulation (EC) No. 1935/2004. These products are listed by EFSA (European Food Safety Authority) as additives which may be used in the manufacture of plastic materials and articles intended to come into contact with foodstuffs under Directive 2002/72/EC and its amendments. These food contact additives are also registered with the EPA and FDA (Food and Drug Administration) in the United States of America.

Don't Delay, Protect Your Product Today!

For more information on antimicrobial technology, its applications, and how you can protect your product, contact a member of the global Microban team today.