What is the difference between Disinfection, Sanitizing and Sterilization?
Sterilization is the highest level requiring 99.9999 to 99.999999 percent removal of bacteria (contaminants) inculding spore removal. This is a technical question so please read the rest of this page and also consult microbiologists for the most technically correct answer. There are 3 fairly commonly accepted levels of "clean" in many industries. Sterilization refers to the statistical destruction and removal of all living organisms. Disinfection generally refers to inanimate objects and all vegetative cells, but not spores. Sanitization refers to the reduction of microorganisms to levels considered safe from a public health viewpoint. The official definition of sanitization, according to the Association of Official Analytical Chemists, for food product contact surfaces is a 99.999% (5-log) reduction of contaminants in a 30 second period. For non-product contact surfaces, a 99.9% (3-log) reduction in contamination is necessary. What is anti-microbial cleaning? Look for low oxygen superheated steam with temperature high enough that it could be higher than the inversion temperature that is used as a drying indicator.
The word Sterilization often requires refers to 6 to 12 log or more cleaning potency mostly done in steam sterilizers/autoclaves that are approved for this purpose. The antimicrobial market in the past has been largely comprised of chlorine compounds (bleach and others), ozone, quaternary ammonium compounds (quats), peracetic acid (PAA), formaldehyde and glutaraldehyde (aldehydes), and hydrogen peroxide. All of these technologies have limitations in addressing sanitization and disinfection needs. The kill rate by steam is dependent on the bioload and exposure time, and probably also on the number of sporing organisms and the presence of Biofilms. See also many reources posted on this MightySteam web site as well openly available published materials like those posted on http://www.diffen.com/difference/Disinfect_vs_Sterilize.
Steam is also an antimicrobial agent. Steam studies are posted on the powerpoints made by the Ohio State University. Steam appears to act very rapidly. Even very short exposure studies ~ 1 second of residency time of 248°F (120°C) steam is roughly 97% effective against common strains of bacteria1, 3 Seconds of Exposure to Superheated Steam Reduces Biofilm Accumulations5 by 99.95%. Five seconds can do even better7...and so on... the time and temperature are important variables to consider.
MightySteam's patented heating system actually allows for an industrial strength > +572°F (+300°C) steam output. In controlled experiments, the higher temperature steam requires lower residency times to achieve effectiveness (This result follows the common law of chemical kinetics where speed increases exponentially with temperature). Other published patents have shown superheated steam can clean upto sterilization levels7.
Resistance to antibiotics is increasing. This article suggests that the dangerous antibiotic-resistant infections are on the rise for children in the U.S.
Salmonella, E. coli and other foodborne pathogens are major threats to safety and profits of any company handling food. MightySteam® can produce 572°F steam within a minute, allowing for treatment during or between production runs.
Suggested food processing applications for the MightySteam® include: grinders, slicers, mixers, agitators, blenders and a variety of other appliances and surfaces that may come in contact with food.
While water itself isn't an effective cleaning agent in a sensitive environment, MightySteam's superheated steam uses high amounts of thermal energy to clean, leaving behind a small amount of water. MightySteam® leaves behind no harmful chemicals that can contaminate products. In addition to safety benefits, the MightySteam™ enjoys a lower cost of operation because it consumes just water and electricity, reducing thus the reliance on chemicals.
With international travel becoming easier and easier, so does the transmission of germs and bacteria. Airport bathrooms have consistently ranked as the least sanitary places in developed countries. Studies have shown that 90% of shopping cart handles and escalator rails contain trace amounts of fecal matter. Children's playgrounds are covered with all sorts of bodily fluids. Exercise machines at gyms are covered in sweat and bacteria. MightySteam® can clean many surfaces with superheated steam.
A University of St. Louis study concluded that even mildly superheated steam 219°F (104°C) steam eliminated common forms of mold with 99% effectiveness (3 Seconds of Exposure to Superheated Steam Reduces Biofilm Accumulations by 99.95%). The MightySteam® generates industrial strength 572°F (300°C) steam, capable of achieving similar results in less time. Other published patents have shown superheated steam can clean upto sterilization levels. . See also http://www.diffen.com/difference/Disinfect_vs_Sterilize.