Parameters such as type and concentration of the active compound, exposure time, application temperature, and organic load presence influence the antimicrobial action of sanitizers, although there is little data in the literature. Thus, this study aimed to evaluate the antifungal efficacy of different chemical sanitizers under different conditions according to the European Committee for Standardization (CEN). Aspergillus brasiliensis (ATCC 16404) was exposed to four compounds (benzalkonium chloride, iodine, peracetic acid, and sodium hypochlorite) at two different concentrations (minimum and maximum described on the product label), different exposure times (5, 10, and 15 min), temperatures (10, 20, 30, and 40 °C), and the presence or absence of an organic load. All parameters, including the type of sanitizer, influenced the antifungal efficacy of the tested compounds. Peracetic acid and benzalkonium chloride were the best antifungal sanitizers. The efficacy of peracetic acid increased as temperatures rose, although the opposite effect was observed for benzalkonium chloride. Sodium hypochlorite was ineffective under all tested conditions. In general, 5 min of sanitizer exposure is not enough and >10 min are necessary for effective fungal inactivation. The presence of organic load reduced sanitizer efficacy in most of the tested situations, and when comparing the efficacy of each compound in the presence and absence of an organic load, a difference of up to 1.5 log CFU was observed. The lowest concentration recommended on the sanitizer label is ineffective for 99.9% fungal inactivation, even at the highest exposure time (15 min) or under the best conditions of temperature and organic load absence. Knowledge of the influence exerted by these parameters contributes to successful hygiene since the person responsible for the sanitization process in the food facility can select and apply a certain compound in the most favorable conditions for maximum antifungal efficacy.
Keywords: Aspergillus brasiliensis (ATCC 16404); Benzalkonium chloride; Food industry; Inactivation; Parameter; Peracetic acid.
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