The foodservice industry continues to be a focus for development of innovations and manufacturing process improvements that ultimately help deliver a cleaner foodservice experience for consumers. In partnership with commercial refrigeration industry leader, Hussmann, the research and development team at Microban® developed a breakthrough technology with real-world benefits.
Food recalls represent high health and economic costs. According to estimates from the Department of Agriculture Economic Research Service (USDA/ERS), the total annual cost of illness from Listeria monocytogenes in 2013 dollars exceeded $2.8 million. Listeria is a complex pathogen that can cause meningitis, bacteremia, and complications during pregnancy. By current estimates Listeria has caused 1,600 illnesses, more than 1,500 related hospitalizations, 260 related deaths each year in the United States, along with the primary culprit in over 100 food recalls in the past 10 years.
Unlike most bacteria, Listeria can grow and multiply in ready-to-eat (RTE) foods stored in the refrigerator. In addition, implementation of effective sanitation procedures is particularly difficult because Listeria adheres to food contact surfaces and forms biofilms. Listeria can persistently survive on food contact surfaces such as stainless steel surfaces of dicing machines and repeatedly contaminate RTE meats. Refrigerated moist environments in food processing plants and refrigerated units provide a good growth environment for Listeria because as a psychrophilic bacterium it survives and grows in very low temperature (0- 4°C) environments, on foods, and in food-processing plants for prolonged periods of time. In working through a solution to these challenges that impact manufacturers and consumers alike, Microban customized a formulation based on its SilverShield® technology to be incorporated into refrigeration units to inhibit the growth of Listeria even at low temperature environments where other technologies cannot. Organism reductions of >99.7% in 24h were obtained when comparing SilverShield-treated shelving samples with untreated samples using the ISO 22196 test protocol. In this case, the partner benefits from a proven improvement in their product, but there is also a larger positive implication to the industry overall and the consumer.