ISRAEL – Bio-Fence, an Israeli health and food tech start-up, has announced a breakthrough in its new pilot project aimed at eliminating pathogens in highly sensitive food production environments.
The start-up developed an innovative polymer which when added to topcoat, binds disinfectant onto the surface for an extended period of time, hence completely eliminating listeria spp. Environmental pathogens within the food production process remains one of the greatest risks to food safety, with the presence of these bacteria in the production environment directly linked to the contamination of food.
The 11-week proof of concept saw Bio-Fence antimicrobial coatings applied to the floor and lower part of walls of a hot dog peeling room in a major sausage manufacturing facility in Israel. Despite repeated, strict cleaning and disinfection routines, the facility had a continuous pre-pilot presence of listeria spp, particularly on the production floor.
During the three-week control phase prior to the application of the Bio-Fence coating, listeria was detected in 21 out of 23 (91%) daily floor samples. Ensuing the application of the Bio-Fence coating, listeria was completely undetectable on the floor surface during day-to-day production.
Ofer Shoham, CEO of Bio-Fence, commented that dealing with environmental pathogens like listeria, salmonella and others in food production processes is a continuous struggle for food manufacturers, especially in the production of sensitive food defined as RTE.
He explained that there is a direct link between the presence of these bacteria in the immediate environment of production equipment and the contamination of food products. Sadly, thousands of people are still infected by listeria every year, causing a mortality rate of more than 25%, said the CEO.
“We are hugely encouraged by the breakthrough results of this pilot, which independently demonstrates the efficacy of the Bio-Fence product in helping eliminate listeria. We are convinced, as demonstrated by the POC results, that our technology can cut the path of infection and improve the overall hygiene level in food production. We look forward to using this trial as a basis to employ our product and technology into other highly sensitive food production environments,” he said.
Bio-Fence’s pilot project
Results from the pilot also illustrated a dramatic reduction of up to 99.9999% in the level of gram-negative bacteria as demonstrated by Enterobacteria (EB) readings, and a considerable improvement in hygiene levels as demonstrated by Total Count (TC) readings. The companycleaning and hygiene routines, involving a chlorine-based product, were practiced before and after the Bio Fence application.
The hot dog peeling room was specifically selected for the pilot as it poses a series of complex challenges to maintaining hygiene levels. The production environment includes low temperatures, humidity, condensation and heavy movement of workers and equipment – all conditions under which listeria can thrive.
Despite the pilot taking place under heavy organic load and wet conditions, the results demonstrate that Bio-Fence technology, when embedded in an industrial topcoat, can serve as a powerful anti-microbial solution that stabilizes and prolongs the activity of standard sanitizers, thereby helping dramatically reduce the spread of listeria.
As a result of the successful proof of concept, the manufacturing facility has continued to use Bio-Fence’s antimicrobial coatings and is now looking to expand the use of the coating in other areas of the facility.
Bio-Fence which was founded in early 2018 at The Kitchen Hub, Israel’s largest food tech incubator, develops antimicrobial coatings and paints to destroy micro-organisms on contact and create a contamination-free environment.