Sanitization is defined as the removal of soil deposits and subsequent application of a sanitizer or disinfectant to reduce the number of residual microorganisms remaining in an environment. Sanitization may be achieved through use of physical (thermal, irradiation) or chemical approaches. Chemical sanitizing is more frequently used in food production facilities than physical techniques. Growing concerns regarding the development of antimicrobial resistance has led to questions regarding cross-resistance mechanisms against sanitizers. The potential for sanitizer resistance development makes it necessary to find alternative approaches to remove microorganisms from food contact surfaces. Bacteriophages (phages) have been proposed as a class of bio-sanitizer due to several favorable attributes including the fact that they only infect bacteria and can remain viable for long periods, which can prevent against bacterial recontamination. Additionally, phages have low toxicity, are environmentally friendly, are not corrosive, and do not have any harmful or offensive odors. There are many examples within the scientific literature in which the positive effects of phages against their target bacteria on food and health setting contact surfaces have been investigated, supplying evidence needed for adoption of phage-based bio-sanitizers. However, these studies have identified several disadvantages of phage-based bio-sanitizers in comparison to traditional chemical sanitizers including their narrow host range and the fact they only affect bacteria, which means that phage based-sanitizers do not have the broad spectrum activity needed to inactivate nonbacterial microorganisms including fungi and viruses. The development of resistance is not a concern that is limited to chemical sanitizers, and while various approaches to address this problem have been proposed, the practicality of such solutions has not yet been demonstrated. Finally, most studies have evaluated phage-based bio-sanitizers in laboratory settings, and as such, they will need to be tested in real-world scenarios to ensure robustness.
Bhandare, S., & Goodridge, L. (2021). Bacteriophages as Bio-sanitizers in Food Production and Healthcare Settings. In D. R. Harper, S. T. Abedon, B. H. Burrowes, & M. L. McConville (Eds.), Bacteriophages: Biology, Technology, Therapy (769-788). Springer International Publishing. https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-319-41986-2_26