Food contact surfaces require rigorous sanitation procedures for decontamination, although these methods very often fail to efficiently clean and disinfect surfaces that are visibly contaminated with food residues and possible biofilms. In this study, the results of a short treatment (1 to 2 s) of combined steam (95°C) and ultrasound (SonoSteam) of industrial fish and meat transportation boxes and live-chicken transportation crates naturally contaminated with food and fecal residues were investigated. Aerobic counts of 5.0 to 6.0 log CFU/24 cm2 and an Enterobacteriaceae spp. level of 2.0 CFU/24 cm2 were found on the surfaces prior to the treatment. After 1 s of treatment, the aerobic counts were significantly (P < 0.0001) reduced, and within 2 s, reductions below the detection limit (<10 CFU) were reached. Enterobacteriaceae spp. were reduced to a level below the detection limit with only 1 s of treatment. Two seconds of steam-ultrasound treatment was also applied on two different types of plastic modular conveyor belts with hinge pins and one type of flat flexible rubber belt, all visibly contaminated with food residues. The aerobic counts of 3.0 to 5.0 CFU/50 cm2 were significantly (P < 0.05) reduced, while Enterobacteriaceae spp. were reduced to a level below the detection limit. Industrial meat knives were contaminated with aerobic counts of 6.0 log CFU/5 cm2 on the handle and 5.2 log CFU/14 cm2 on the steel. The level of Enterobacteriaceae spp. contamination was approximately 2.5 log CFU on the handle and steel. Two seconds of steam-ultrasound treatment reduced the aerobic counts and Enterobacteriaceae spp. to levels below the detection limit on both handle and steel. This study shows that the steam-ultrasound treatment may be an effective replacement for disinfection processes and that it can be used for continuous disinfection at fast process lines. However, the treatment may not be able to replace efficient cleaning processes used to remove high loads of debris.

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