When a compound is applied to wipe out or control the multiplication of microbes in food or other matrices, the real  intention  is to attack the microbial enzymes, other proteins, the cell wall and other structures in the cytoplasm . Other targets may also be affected as the agent does its destructive duty.

Some factors ,may affect the effectiveness of the cidal agent. These include

1 Toxicity=This measures the power of elimination as captured in the compound. Sometimes the choice will reflect the possible toxicity on the human and environment. If the germicide is too dangerous to the extent of killing the human cells at the same rate it does microbial cells, then this is not to be chosen as an attractive intervention

2 Compatibility=This assesses the function of the agent with respect to the matrix.  Disinfectant or sterilant . One disinfectant that is good for canned food may not be compatible with hard surfaces like glass

3 Presence of organic matter in the surrounding. Sometimes the agent may be weakened by the presence of other matter. This must be taken into consideration when making a choice

4 Environmental safety. If the chemical is very dangerous through inhalation or touch by humans, there may a second thought when making a decision. Its no use endangering the environment, even when the microbe is being killed to stop food degradation

  1. Residual content. Every chemical is eventually expected to break down in to residues. For a germicide to qualify for choice, its residue must also be safe to the substrate
  2. Cost and availability. When an intervention, is beyond the reach of the end users, or not easily available, then it should not be chosen. Pocket friendly and readily available options are always attractive


Among the various classes of microbicides, there are

Alcohols, Halogens(e.g chlorine), Ethylene oxides, aldehydes , metal compounds like silver,  mercury and  copper salts, ozone and  Hydrogen peroxide

Kindly send comments or requests on Food Safety to

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