Antimicrobial Decontamination

Why Chlorine Dioxide?

Food safety is a growing concern in food production facilities.  Product recalls are increasing every year and can cost millions of dollars in revenue.  While many chemical options can clean and sanitize, they often do not reach the entire surface.  Corners, cracks, and scratches may not be reached completely with liquid products.

What is Chlorine Dioxide?

Chlorine Dioxide (CD) is a sterilant gas registered by the EPA that effectively destroys or eliminates all forms of microbial life. This includes fungi, viruses, and all forms of bacteria including spores. It has been used in the liquid form since the 1950’s as a water treatment for drinking water and since the 1980’s for numerous other decontamination applications. Chlorine Dioxide gas is a yellow-green color and has a distinctive chlorine odor. As a gas, it cannot be stored long term, so several processes have been developed for on-site gas generation. The process utilized by IFC has better control capabilities than others, can be shut down at any time if necessary, and does not produce troublesome liquid wastes. The process produces pure dry gas without acid contaminants that can be corrosive. A wide variety of sensitive and expensive equipment has been treated without adverse effects. Although applied as a gas the objective is to treat surfaces and penetrate microscopic scratches and other pathogen harborages. CD can penetrate water and food residues, but it is not intended for food or commodity treatments. Excessive residues, organic loads or surfaces such as unsealed concrete may require higher levels of gas or longer exposure times.

How are Treatments Completed?

The on-site generated gas is produced outside the treated space and introduced through application lines.  This helps to reduce possible exposure.  Concentrations inside the treated space are monitored for efficacy, and outside for safety.  Removal of sensitive equipment is not necessary because there are no known adverse effects from chlorine dioxide gas.

Chloride Dioxide gas is effective against a wide range of bacteria, viruses, fungi, and molds.  Even those bacteria that form spores can be successfully controlled.  Bacterial swabs can be performed before and after the treatment and biological indicators can be placed throughout the treated areas to assess the effectiveness of treatments.

Set up for a Chlorine Dioxide treatment requires sealing of the area to be treated, increasing humidity to around 65%, and the use of fans to evenly distribute the gas.  Actual treatment time is typically six hours or less once the area is sealed and humidified.  Efficacy can be assessed by monitoring and achieving a concentration-time (CT) value known to be effective against pathogens from lab studies.  Bioassays and swabs are also an option to confirm efficacy.  The gas aerates quickly allowing the facility to be up and running promptly; most CD treatments can be completed in less than one day.  Almost any size area can be sterilized with Chlorine Dioxide gas including tarped equipment, small rooms, spiral freezers, or even large processing facilities.

IFC’s knowledge and experience in food plants assures regulatory compliance and high standards of safety.

Biological Efficacy of Chlorine Dioxide

Testing has been done on many microbial organisms and has been successful on all tested species to date.  Below is a table of some of the more commonly seen microorganisms. For more information including scientific papers and other references, please contact IFC.

Chlorine Dioxide Is Effective Against:

Bacteria including:

  • Campylobacter jejuni
  • Clostridium spp.
  • E. coli spp.
  • Fusarium spp.
  • Lactobacillus spp.
  • Legionella spp.
  • Listeria spp.
  • Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA)
  • Salmonella spp.
  • Staphylococcus spp.
  • Tuberculosis
  • Yersinia spp.

Viruses including:

  • Foot and Mouth disease
  • Hantavirus
  • Hepatitis A, B, C Virus
  • Human Immunodeficiency Virus
  • Influenza A
  • Norwalk Virus
  • Poliovirus
  • Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS)


  • Aspergillus spp.
  • Botrytis species
  • Candida spp.
  • Fusarium solani
  • Penicillium spp.
  • Stachybotrys chartarum

Bacterial Spores:

  • Bacillus spp.
  • Clostridium spp.

Protozoa and Beta Lactams