GOJO Study Finds Inconsistency in Surface Sanitizers

September 14, 2022 GOJO Study Finds Inconsistency in Surface Sanitizers

According to a recent study by GOJO Industries, in partnership with North Carolina State University, not all surface sanitizers behave the same when it comes to inactivating norovirus.

The study, recently published in the Journal of Applied and Environmental Microbiology, found that total formulation (the active ingredients and non-active ingredients) significantly impacts a surface sanitizer’s efficacy against human norovirus—the leading cause of foodborne illness in the United States.

NC State researchers applied human norovirus and Tulane virus (a newer culturable surrogate virus with similarities to norovirus) to strips of Formica® (a laminate surface material commonly used in food service). They then tested the efficacy of four commercially available food contact surface sanitizers with different active ingredients (ethanol, bleach, quaternary ammonium, and a lactic acid and surfactant blend).

Only the alcohol-based (ethanol) sanitizer significantly reduced the amount of virus on the surfaces, while the others performed poorly.

“This research clearly shows all food contact surface sanitizers are not equal from a norovirus efficacy standpoint,” said Chip Manuel, Ph.D., GOJO food safety science advisor. “When considering products for an establishment, food safety professionals need to be confident in a product’s efficacy—especially for the hard-to-kill norovirus—so they should ask for data on product efficacy against this specific pathogen.”

When testing the addition of a wiping-down step to the sanitation process, the study revealed both good and bad news. Using paper towels to wipe down the surface after application of any of the sanitizers provided removal of 95–99.9% of the virus. However, doing so introduced the possibility of cross-contamination, as the paper towels used with the three non-ethanol contained high concentrations of the virus after the wipe down. Furthermore, those same products still left residual virus on surfaces.

“This has implications for a facility’s norovirus clean-up plan,” Manuel said. “Paper towels used after cleaning up an incident should be handled very carefully, or cross-contamination could cause further illness.”

About GOJO
GOJO Industries, Inc. is a privately held corporation headquartered in Akron, Ohio, with offices worldwide. GOJO produces a variety of hand- and skin-care-related products for various markets, including health care, food processing, manufacturing, automotive, education, government, and military. For more information, visit