It is a common misconception that low numbers of Salmonella, Cronobacter and other pathogens are not a problem in low moisture foods because these products do not support growth. Certain organisms can persist for prolonged periods of time in low-moisture products, and heat resistance of Salmonella is greatly increased at reduced water activities in food matrices.
The low water activity level found in most dry ingredients and finished products usually results in severely dehydrated bacteria. It is only when there is adequate moisture, temperature and growing conditions that these stressed bacteria recover and multiply.
Physical cleaning should be followed by chemical or equivalent disinfection procedures and all contact surfaces should be dry before use. If disinfection measures are inadequate, bacteria may adapt to the stress conditions and become more resistant to control efforts. Clean breaks for in-shift sanitizing are becoming more common, so speed of application and drying time must be considered when evaluating new interventions.
Newer technology used in food and medical applications include concentrated alcohol products applied through inert gases to eliminate flammability. Biomist, Inc. has developed new high-grade sanitizing systems and automation for food manufacturers to bolster their sanitation programs by safely applying alcohol-based sanitizers to processing equipment, pneumatic pipes, electronics and other vectors of contamination.