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  • Writer's pictureMark Beaven

The Seven Steps of Cleaning and Disinfection for Better Farm Biosecurity

Undoubtedly, one of the most significant challenges that producers face is the ever-present threat of pathogens. From endemic pathogens to foreign animal diseases, strong biosecurity procedures are critical in preventing the entry and spread of disease within agricultural settings. A key cornerstone of biosecurity is cleaning and disinfection of surfaces and equipment, to eliminate pathogenic microorganisms in the environment. Producers can maximize the efficacy of the cleaning and disinfection process by following seven simple steps:

Step 1: Dry Cleaning

Even the most effective disinfectant will not work properly in the presence of large amounts of dirt and debris; as such an important first step is to dry clean the premises to remove as much visible soil as possible. This may include feces, feed, litter, and any other dirt left behind once animals are removed from the area.

Step 2: Pre-Soak

Once visible soils have been removed, the next step is to soak surfaces in a detergent solution, in order to dissolve or suspend any residual soils that remain after dry cleaning. Ideally, a one-step disinfectant cleaner, formulated with surfactants, should be used for this process, for a few reasons:

·        To streamline protocols by eliminating the need for separate products to clean and disinfect

·        To improve the overall efficacy of the process, by using a cleaner with antimicrobial properties

·        To reduce the risks of interactions between different chemicals; for instance, if the cleaner is not completely rinsed and then interacts with the disinfectant

The detergent or one-step cleaner disinfectant should be applied following the manufacturer’s instructions for use. The use of a foaming applicator is recommended, to provide visual verification of surface coverage, and to allow the solution to cling to vertical surfaces and remain in contact with the surface for an extended period of time. The solution should be foamed from bottom to top, to reduce runoff, following a Z-shaped pattern.

EthoGuard recommends Prevail™ Disinfectant and Cleaner

Step 3: High Pressure Cleaning

Once the detergent solution has been applied, the surface should be rinsed using water at high pressure (750 – 1800 psi). This allows for the efficient removal of dislodged soils that have been suspended in the detergent solution. If available, the use of hot water for this step can boost its effectiveness. The rinse should be done from the top of surfaces to the bottom, in the opposite manner of how the detergent was applied. The process of cleaning surfaces with detergent, followed by a water rinse, can reduce a significant volume of pathogens from the environment, making the subsequent disinfection step easier.

Step 4: Drying Prior to Disinfection

While ideal in theory, drying surfaces fully prior to disinfection may not be feasible in practice. Allowing surfaces to dry eliminates the risk of diluting the disinfectant with residual water on the surface, along with any interactions that may occur with residual detergent chemistry. If drying is not practical, producers can mitigate these concerns by using a one-step disinfectant cleaner for both the pre-soak and disinfection steps.

Step 5: Disinfection

The disinfection step is designed to kill any pathogens that remain on surfaces following the cleaning process, to prevent the spread of infection. This is accomplished by applying a Health Canada-registered disinfectant, which should be done in the same manner as the detergent (ideally, it will be the same product, but used according to the manufacturer’s directions for disinfection). The disinfectant chosen should have broad-spectrum efficacy against a range of pathogens of concern, without compromising human, animal and environmental safety – this means it should be non-irritating to eyes and non-corrosive to skin at in-use concentrations, without any environmental hazards that require special disposal precautions. The product should also have good foaming ability when applied using a foamer, for easy validation of surface coverage and compliance with the required contact time.

Step 6: Drying Prior to Re-Stocking

Many commonly-used disinfectants are formulated with harsh chemicals, and therefore allowing surfaces to fully dry prior to restocking the area may be important to protect animals from coming into contact with potentially harmful residues. However, if the chosen disinfectant has a preferred safety profile, as recommended previously, this step is less important.

Step 7: Surface Sampling

The final step of the cleaning and disinfection process is validation, to measure the effectiveness of the process. This may be done periodically, and a variety of methods exist including visual scoring, swabbing surfaces to culture bacteria, or the use of ATP bioluminescence methods. Disinfectant manufacturers may be able to provide guidance as to how results from these tests can be interpreted, for assurance that protocols are working as intended.

 While the risk of infection may not be going away any time soon, rigorous biosecurity protocols are the best defense that producers have in their arsenal. By following these seven steps, producers can feel confident that their cleaning and disinfection process is preventing the entry and spread of pathogens and protecting the health of their animals.

Have questions or need assistance implementing these 7 steps? EthoGuard can help!

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