Virus Removal and Transfer on Food Contact Surfaces by Cleaning Cloths

[CIRI Notes: This article advances knowledge about selecting various cloths to clean a variety of surfaces.  It also points up that cloths may vary in the amount of virus they are able to hold onto without transferring it back to the next surface cleaned – a continual battle with practical implications. Applied Environmental Microbiology (AEM) is a respected refereed journal of the American Society of Microbiology.  The authors are from University of Arkansas.]



Contamination of food contact surfaces with pathogens is considered an important vehicle for the indirect transmission of foodborne diseases. Five different cleaning cloths were assessed for the ability to remove viruses from food contact surfaces (stainless steel surface and nonporous solid surface) and to transfer viruses back to these surfaces. Cleaning cloths evaluated include two different cellulose/cotton cloths, one microfiber cloth, one non-woven cloth, and one cotton terry bar towel. Four viral surrogates (murine norovirus [MNV], feline calicivirus [FCV], bacteriophages PRD1 and MS2) were included. Removal of FCV was significantly greater (p ≤ 0.05) on stainless steel than from non-porous solid surface, and overall MNV removal from both surfaces was significantly less (p ≤ 0.05) than FCV and PRD1. Additionally, the terry towel removed significantly fewer total viruses (p ≤ 0.05) than the microfiber and one of the cotton/cellulose cloths. The cleaning cloth experiments were repeated with human norovirus. For transfer of viruses from cloth to surface, both cellulose/cotton cloths and microfiber transferred an average of 3.4 and 8.5 total PFU, respectively, to both surfaces and were significantly different (p ≤ 0.05) from the non-woven cloth and terry towel (309 and 331 total PFU, respectively). There was no statistically significant difference (p > 0.05) in the amount of virus transfer between surfaces. These data indicate that while the cleaning cloths assessed here can remove viruses from surfaces, some cloths may also transfer a significant amount of viruses back to food contact surfaces. | doi:10.1128/AEM.00027-12






Kristen E Gibson, Philip G Crandall, Steven C Ricke


Appl Environ Microbiol 2012 pp.

University of Arkansas, Division of Agriculture, Department of Food Science, and Center for Food Safety
Corresponding Author: Kristen Gibson, Ph.D., University of Arkansas, Biomass Research Building, 2435 North Hatch Avenue, Fayetteville, AR 72704, Phone: 479-575-6515, Fax: 479-575-3941, [email protected]