Hillbrush whitepaper explores benefits of antimicrobial cleaning tools

Hillbrush whitepaper explores benefits of antimicrobial cleaning tools
Catherine Watkinson

Catherine Watkinson, Global Technical Hygiene Specialist at Hillbrush, explores the benefits of using antimicrobial cleaning tools.

The food industry has the ultimate responsibility of ensuring that the products they source, process and pack can be safely consumed – physical, chemical and biological cleanliness is an absolute prerequisite for food safety.

A wide range of hazards face manufacturers in the making of foodstuffs that can contaminate food such as, primarily, microorganisms and their toxins, in addition to allergens, cleaning residues and lubricants.

Consumers demand the highest quality food, which not only entails the food to be fresh and nutritious but ultimately safe to eat.

Throughout the entire supply chain there are significant risks of cross-contamination no more so than within the factory environment where raw materials and ingredients come into contact with surfaces and an environment that can carry and harbour pathogenic bacteria such as Campylobacter, MRSA, E,Coli, Legionella, Listeria and Salmonella amongst other micro-organisms.

Implementing and adhering to good hygiene practices is an essential part of preventing contamination on food contact surfaces.

The industry spends millions of pounds on cleaning chemicals and equipment but how effective is your cleaning equipment in preventing the spread of harmful bacteria, fungi and moulds and has it the ability and of the right design to provide the defence and protection that is required to produce safe food.

Legislation & industry standards

National and International legislation and third-party accreditation standards requires the food industry to put on the market safe food and in addition for equipment manufacturers to provide cleanable equipment and for cleaning equipment to be maintained in a clean and hygienic condition.

The new British Retail Consortium Global Standard for Food Safety – Version 08 due for implementation from February 2019 clearly states in Clause 4.11.6 that;

  • Cleaning equipment shall be hygienically designed and fit for purpose;
  • Suitably identified for intended use (e.g. colour coded or labelled)
  • Cleaned and stored in a hygiene manner to prevent contamination.

Providing that the equipment and environment are hygienically designed i.e. with no crevices or dead legs, with an effective cleaning and disinfection programme and with the right cleaning tools then the potential for growth and contamination from micro-organisms is greatly reduced.  One less concern for food manufacturers and a green light for cleanliness compliance.

Cleaning equipment

Cleaning tools are an essential ‘must have’ to implement an effective cleaning programme, but the choice available is vast and often confusing and conflicting with many variations and designs to choose from.

Efficiency and effectiveness to clean equipment and reduce contamination are the essential requirements for purchasing cleaning tools.

Cleaning tools need to offer the protection against threats and dangers you can see and more importantly for those you can’t see – 24 hours a day.

Cleaning equipment is often used over large surface areas and can collect and spread contamination. Data has shown that 47% of the cleaning equipment used can be positive for Listeria monocytogenes which demonstrates that cleaning equipment can be a major collection point for pathogens.

Incorrect storage, failure to replace old or faulty cleaning tools, and incorrect design of cleaning equipment are all key factors contributing to potential microbiological hazards.  Cleaning should reduce the risk of bacteria not contribute to the loading on equipment and the environment.

Using clean equipment that is fit for purpose and effective sanitising of equipment between use is one line of defence to prevent bacterial contamination but a second line of defence, that is increasing in popularity and reduces the threat of cross-contamination is the use of anti-microbial cleaning tools within the food production environment and can provide round the clock antimicrobial product protection.

Why choose anti-microbial

‘An antimicrobial is an agent that kills microorganisms or stops their growth’ It prevents the growth or of destroys a wide range of microbes such as bacteria, fungi and moulds. This mustn’t be confused with an ‘antibacterial’ that specifically prevents the growth of bacteria.

Antimicrobial products are used in many environments such as hospitals, care homes, schools, gyms and offices but the benefits have been identified within the food industry to reduce the risk of food poisoning.  With the increasing awareness of the need to improve hygiene levels the demand for antimicrobial cleaning tools is growing.

Antimicrobial hygiene tools effectively inhibit the growth of bacteria on the surface of the product.

Hillbrush have worked in conjunction with Addmaster to develop a range of cleaning tools that are manufactured using the antimicrobial additive technology.

By incorporating into the range their anti-microbial range of cleaning tools, Hillbrush can offer an effective antimicrobial protection for the effective lifetime of the products helping to reduce or add to microbial loading on equipment.

How does it work

The antimicrobial (a silver ion-based additive) is added in the cleaning tools at the time of production and binds to the cell of the bacteria disrupting growth, interfering with the enzyme production stopping the bacteria cell producing energy. Cell DNA is interrupted stopping replication which prevents the growth and spread of harmful microbes.

Silver is a natural antibacterial metal as it does not contain the toxins that other metals can do, so it is safe to use anywhere that germs can spread and cause illness.

All plastics in the Hillbrush range of anti-microbial cleaning tools contains the additive including the brush filaments and handles.

The science

Hillbrush have contributed to a series of analytical tests to determine the effectiveness of the antibacterial activity with  IMSL (Industrial Microbiological Services Ltd). The analysis was based on test methodology MOD ISO 22196:2011.

Sampling all parts of the cleaning tool they were able to ascertain the effectiveness of the silver ion additive in the reduction of key micro species.


The antimicrobial additive is not a replacement for good cleaning practices and manual effective cleaning is still key but by cleaning with anti-microbial cleaning tools bacteria survival on the cleaning equipment is reduced and is constantly working in-between cleans.

Data has shown up to a 99.9% reduction of harmful microbes within 2 hours of cleaning on the tools and has a permanent product protection after 24 hours.

The use of cleaning chemicals alone is recognized nowadays as not always the most effective method and only offers a limited level of defence, the combination of manual cleaning with effective chemicals using anti-microbial cleaning tools can provide the food industry with a solid defence for reducing the risk of cross contamination and providing a food safe production environment.