Chlorine Dioxide to be Used as Disinfectant Against Spore-Carrying Bacteria Such as Anthrax
Raytec Development Corp., a food safety technology company with operations based in Portland, Ore., announced that it is currently awaiting a patent for its latest technology involving a new delivery method for packaging chlorine dioxide in a "tea bag" to keep bacteria from forming in food. Raytec developed the tea bag to generate chlorine dioxide in the presence of water and produce specific amounts of chlorine dioxide in a solution in a safe manner. Specific applications already underway include bacteria prevention in crab and seafood processing plants as well as controlling spoilage of produce.
Raytec and its affiliated companies have been involved in the development of antimicrobials for the food industry since 1995 using dry media chlorine dioxide as the main chemistry. Raytec holds several patents related to the generation of chlorine dioxide gas using dry media. Chlorine dioxide is a well-known oxidizing antimicrobial compound, which has been typically used to treat drinking water and in industrial applications as a biocide. Recently, Raytec has used chlorine dioxide in food-related applications either as a solution of chlorine dioxide or using dry media.
One of the concerns with the recent episodes of anthrax contamination is the possibility of using other carriers to deliver lethal doses of anthrax or other pathogens. One such carrier could be food, particularly coming from overseas. Currently, only a very small percentage of the produce imported into the United States is inspected.
The main application for Raytec's tea bag technology is as a wash to sanitize produce and other products suspected to be contaminated with bacteria of any kind. The technology has been approved in accordance with applicable federal regulations as an antimicrobial agent in water used to wash fruit and vegetables as well as rinse, transport or store seafood. Raytec also has applied for registration of the tea bag as a general surface sanitizer.
Raytec applied for a patent for its tea bag delivery technology in August 2000. Typical waiting periods for patents of this kind are one to two years. To distribute the tea bag delivery method to the food industry, Raytec has recently signed a distribution agreement with Zep Manufacturing, the second largest manufacturer and distributor of antimicrobials and sanitizers for the food industry.
"This new tea bag is cutting edge technology and the best we have developed," said Bernardo N. Rico, president and CEO of Raytec's U.S. operations. "Now we have the ability to better face potential dangers that may come with the food we eat and the air we breathe".
The recent episodes of anthrax contamination have increased the need to evaluate the potential use of chlorine dioxide as a general disinfectant. In fact, on Oct. 30, 2001, the EPA recommended the use of chlorine dioxide gas to decontaminate certain Senate offices. Although it has not yet been specifically tested on anthrax, chlorine dioxide has proven to be effective in killing other spore-forming bacteria such as Bacillus cereus, which also is a spore-forming bacterium similar in nature to anthrax.
One of Raytec's patents covers the use of dry-media chlorine dioxide in air filtration systems. These systems use a multi-stage oxidizing process, which allows for the decontamination of air and the discharge of clean air without residual chemicals. Raytec has built and tested several of these filters,which can be used as a continuous treatment process in buildings, homes, malls, airplanes and any other environments where indoor air quality is of concern.