For over 100 years the disinfectants known commonly as ‘quats’, or quaternary ammonium compounds have provided a valuable tool for controlling microbes of concern in all sorts of industries, including food processing.
Because of the great cost effective, broad spectrum control they gave, and their non-corrosive nature, quats are very widely used.
However, in the food processing industry they are slowly but surely falling out of favour and the reasons are many and varied.
Due to the quats cationic nature, they are very substantive to the surface that they are applied to, which makes them ideal as residual sanitisers. Unfortunately, this very characteristic has caused its detection in a range of different foods in recent times, because it ionically ‘bonds’ to the process surface, unless it is very thoroughly rinsed off. QAC compounds are able to be detected in foodstuffs in very minute quantities.
Two high-profile cases in recent times have done nothing to help regulators attitude towards QAC residues in food. These two cases were to do with products that were marketed as “completely natural organic” disinfectants designed for direct application to foodstuffs. These products were found after many years of use to contain significant levels of DDAC (a twin-chain quat).
Various regional councils are now testing for QAC residuals in factory wastewater streams and implementing limits. This is mostly driven by QAC’s eco-toxicity in aquatic environments, and the fact that it is a recognised sensitiser of human organs.
But, if you are worried about what you are going to replace your current QAC sanitisers with, there is no need to fear.
Hygiene Technologies has been busy working on replacements for areas of traditional quat use, both for open-area and CIP applications – give us a call today on 0800 REAL CLEAN (0800 732 525) to find out the best option for your situation.