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Tag : bacteria treatment

Meet the Biofilms: Your Refrigerator’s Worst Enemy, and Probably Yours Too

 

You might think that the worst you can find down the back, in or around a refrigeration unit would be a bit of ancient cheese, pushed out of sight by an enterprising toddler. Well, we’re not ruling out the cheese, but we’ve got some news for you: the worst that lives in those hard-to-reach spaces is more than enough to put your customers off their morning coffee.

Meet the biofilms.Here’s where they come to life: in the sort of dark, damp spaces where bacteria thrive. Once a few bacteria have adhered to a surface, they begin to multiply, and different kinds are attracted to the same spot through a form of bacterial communication called ‘quorum sensing’. As the bacteria form a colony, they begin to secrete a robust, jelly-like substance called a biofilm. As the colony begins to mature, the biofilms thicken and the bacteria start to disperse, covering more surfaces and spreading as far as they can.

Bacterial colonies will produce biofilms in any damp, humid environment – anywhere from the drains in your shower to the bottom of your fish tank to the spaces between your teeth (we call this dental plaque!). But refrigerators – especially the large, industrial models in supermarkets – are a particular favourite. And that’s a problem, if you’re the manager of a large grocer. Not only do biofilms look unsightly and unhygienic, but they can lead to food contamination, total equipment breakdown and a fatal loss of consumer confidence.

Want to know how? Here’s a common timelinefor biofilm mayhem:

 

Bacteria are transported by the airflow and introduced to refrigerator ->

The biofilms begin to plug the water drain in the refrigerator. ->

The water, instead of draining, backs up. ->

The water comes into contact with the fan motors, short-circuiting the motors and corroding the outer casing. ->

The now-limited air-flow forces the fridge to drop its internal operating temperature. ->

Ice forms on the coil and begins to freeze in the water tray, causing more blockages and internal damage. ->

Water begins to spill out onto the shop floor, presenting an immediate hazard for customers. ->

An engineer is called, and the unit is demerchandised and switched off. ->

Sales revenues are lost and, after prolonged or repeated shut-down, so is consumer confidence.

 

And all this can reoccur in as little as four to eight weeks.

 

A Wet Floor Sign, doesn’t mean clean floor!

Some years ago, a former colleague and I met a team of Refrigeration Engineers at a Supermarket. I was interested in what they were doing. Wet Floor Signs littered the floor, water puddles were everywhere to be seen. Initially, any passer-by would have assumed that the floor was being cleaned, so to take caution, but on closer inspection, it was evident that signs had nothing to do with cleaning…The Engineers were infact unblocking a drains.

Insite:

Refrigeration produces moisture – Warm moist air is transported by fans through a heat exchanger called an Evaporator Coil. The Evaporator is set a low temperature – its purpose is to draw in heat energy from the objects stored in the fridge.

As the air passes through the coil, moisture molecules are attracted to each other, as more and more molecules come together water droplets form. These droplets then run down the Evaporator coil into a water collection tray called the Condensate Tray. The build-up of moisture needs to flow away, via a condensate drain (which runs underneath the fridge and the store).

Dirt, packaging and bacteria cause restrictions and blockages in the drains. Water, not able to flow away, will back up and over spill all over the shop floor.

With 40% of all reported incidents across Grocers is linked to Slips and Trips, preventative measures are extremely important.

I have since noticed the same issues raising across many different Grocers at home and abroad. I have spent many years travelling in building awareness in the correct principles surrounding maintaining clean and clear drains and coils. This is truly a universal problem and for this reason TotalCare was born.

Back to the story…

Engineers vacuuming drains from blockages. What are they vaccuuming? What is the root cause of the  blockage and why does it effect so many stores in so many towns?

It is true that packaging and plastic bags can get caught in the drains, but the real colperate are Biofilms!

Biofilms are micro-organism communities. Clusters of bacteria and germs come together to support a small ecosystem within dark, damp environments. It just so happens, that refrigeration is the perfect breeding ground for microbes and pathogens. To adhere to a surface (to create a bacteria community), bacteria produces a gel  called Exopolyshaccarides – This gel forms in layers resulting in a thick congealed goo, which then fills water drains in fridges, resulting in blockages. Exopolyshaccarides (technical name for bacteria goo), are removed from drains via a vacuum.

The process of vacuuming drains is repeated again and again, meaning that the root-cause of the problem (micro-organisms) are not treated. There are many treatment methods, many of which act as a bandaid over a wound instead of treating the wound first for possible infections.

It has become evident that the correct application method needs to marry-up with the correct chemical solution. Without the two working closely together, you’ll find the same problem re-occurring way ahead of any planned maintenance.

This year has been a great testing platform for our services. We have helped and assisted the following refrigeration clients in achieving the best results: Tesco, Epta, Westway, M&S, Newman Ref and many more.

Since our visits water leak call-outs have reduced to practically zero…unfortunately we can’t prevent pieces of broccoli getting caught in the plug.

In conclusion, don’t look under that refrigerated trap door! You may just meet the Exopolysaccharide Boogy Man!
For more information follow the link:
http://www.totalcarehygieneservices.com/refrigeration.html

#drainublocking #health&saftey #calloutreduction #refrigeration #refrigerationmaintenance

The Golden Rules of Commercial Fridge Maintenance

It’s a debate that still rages within the UK’s Heating, Ventilation and Air Conditioning industry: which product performs best at keeping drains clear and free from water leaks? It’s particularly fierce between the manufacturers of those chemical products, all of whom recommend their own strip or tablet options, with impressive claims as to their effectiveness and longevity.

But that’s not really where the discussion should begin at all: here at TotalCare Hygiene Services Ltd, we know it’s important to understand the cause of a repeatedly blocked drain, before a solution can be recommended. And the root causes of blocked drains tend to be threefold:

  1. Poor Drainage Installation:

There are two common offenders here –

a. Design.In recent years, the designers of refrigeration display cabinets have tried to maximise the amount of goods the cabinet can hold. As a result of this trend, the space between the bottom of the cabinet and the drainage area is reducing. A smaller space reduces the flow levels in which drain pipe can run.

b. Installation.For water to flow freely, the drainage equipment should be installed with a minimum gradient to allow free flow of water. It’s an easy thing to miss, and done incorrectly it leads to big problems.

 

  1. Dirt and Contaminants: 

It’s astonishing what our engineers have found in the bottom of refrigeration cases over the years: foodstuffs, packaging, labels, pens, tools, bulbs, coins, hair and even mice. Each has the potential to block the drain. As customers and staff restack goods or take them away, items can fall into the condensate collection tray under the refrigeration cabinet, adding to the blockage risk.

 

  1. Exopolysaccharides:

Or, to use their more common name, biofilms. They’re robust, jelly-like substances secreted by colonies of bacteria, especially in damp, dark placeslike refrigeration cabinets. Not only do they look unsightly and unhygienic, they can very quickly plug the drainage system, causing water to short-circuit the fan motors and put the whole unit out of action.

 

What’s the solution?

After correcting any issues with installation and drainage, the most vital change to make is also the simplest: at minimum, booking a deep clean once a year. While we do have effective cleaning products we prefer and use, the frequency of cleaning matters even more.  The dirt layer acts like insulation, with Refrigeration equipment relying heavily on heat transfer, this layer will reduce its efficiency and then a cascade of problems will follow.

Some supermarket chains only allocate a deep clean once every two years, and the strain on the refrigeration unit tells – One such tell, are water puddles around the refrigeration equipment. Other chains will allow for more frequent visits, these may not resolve all problems, but in many cases water leak call-outs can be significantly reduced.

And those wonder products that promise to keep drains blockage-free for up to twelve months? They’re effective, but they should be the last step in the process rather than the first port of call. Just as doctors need to clean a wound before they can treat it, to reduce the possibility of further complications, so we need to find the cause of repeated blockages in supermarket refrigeration before we treat the area with preventative measures.

 

Good refrigerator hygiene helps your bottom line

When a unit breaks, it’s never just about the unit. Keeping your refrigerators in good health for longer means:

  1. A reduction in service calls
  2. A reduction in potential visitor and staff injuries
  3. A reduction in system downtime
  4. A reduction in component failure and replacement parts
  5. A reduction in possible health hazards from multiplying bacteria
  6. A reduction in store operation disruptions
  7. An increase in sales

All of which include a direct cost benefit to the business. What’s needed is more than the correct chemical choice: it’s the right service provider delivering its thoughtful cleaning solutions in the right way.

TotalCares top tips for maintaining refrigeration plant are:

  1. Pumps & Drains cleared from blockages, via Vacuum or Heavy Duty Drain Unblocker
  2. Chemical Selection:
    1. Disinfectant and Cleaner for the removal of dirt and eradication of biofilms.
    2. Biocidal tray treatment – Ongoing protection between maintenance visits
  3. Frequency – Frequent visits to monitor and regular cleaning cycles.

Call TotalCare Hygiene Services Ltd, and we’ll work to understand the problem and find the right solution. No ‘wonder products’ required.

 

 

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Air conditioning coil cleaning in retail and cafe environments.

Contaminated AC = COST £££

Every environment may have different types of airborne dirt. A coastal environment, one would expect to find higher concentrations of salt. An office may have printer inks, moisture, paper and fabric fibres. A salon you will find hair and proteins from lotions and hair sprays. All of these contaminants, overtime, will find their way into both refrigeration and air conditioning systems.

Both types of cooling systems circulate air through a refrigerated coil, which is designed to remove heat energy from the environment. Airborne particulates follow the circulating air and are then drawn into the unit. Dirt begins to collect and clog the coil and filter (if fitted).

A dirty heat exchanger, if left untreated, could see energy costs increase by up-to 36%. Other related issues around poorly maintained coils include:

System refrigerant leaks

Higher energy costs

Higher tax on climate change levy’s

System repair

Component failure

Drain blockages

Ice build-up

Planned Preventative Maintenance (PPM) helps to

Other benefits may also be enjoyed, such as improved Indoor Air Quality fewer particulates in the air and a reduction in potential cross contamination.

Cleaning the filter isn’t enough, it will help, but dirt can find its way into all surfaces within a AC and Fridge.

TotalCare supports refrigeration contractors in the delivery of their PPM contracts.

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