Sanitation, Hygiene and Contamination Control

  • Overview
  • STAT Epidemiology Evaluation
  • Sanitation System Monitoring
  • Antimicrobial Efficacy Claims Testing
  • Case Studies

NSF’s sanitation, hygiene and contamination control services, previously known as infection control, provide research and support services to evaluate microbial control systems and practices in the healthcare, food, water and environmental safety sectors. Our services provide expert third-party validation of claims associated with prevention and control methods for emerging pathogens and chemical threats.

For healthcare and hospital facilities, we provide STAT epidemiology evaluations and sanitation system monitoring and real-time evaluation.

We also provide antimicrobial efficacy claims testing for manufacturers.

STAT Epidemiology Evaluation

NSF’s STAT epidemiology evaluation services rapidly respond to a current outbreak situation involving a known or unknown infectious agent.

We perform the following services:

  • Process flow analysis
  • Targeted on-site sampling, under HACCP principles
  • Strain identification and characterization (e.g. antibiotic resistance profile)
  • Identification of the path(s) of contamination
  • Review of appropriate SOPs –“fit-for-purpose”
  • Staff SOP compliance review
  • Findings and remediation guidance report

We offer additional services to evaluate and validate your facility’s cleaning protocol against the target infection.

Sanitation System Monitoring

NSF’s sanitation system monitoring and real-time evaluation services allow for thorough and efficient real-time performance assessment of your facility’s infection control program through the implementation of a customized data management system.

We offer the following:

  • Periodic staff SOP compliance review
  • Integration of a custom infection data management and performance monitoring system developed by NSF (TraQtion)
    • Data capture of routine monitoring activities
    • Customized dashboards to trend data and enable proactive decisions
    • Automated alerts to suggest appropriate actions
    • Rapid assessment of areas that fall out of compliance with cleanliness/sanitation standards
    • Comparisons of performance on multiple levels (surface and equipment cleanliness, staff performance and adherence to infection control program, interdepartmental comparison, comparison of performance across hospital network, etc.)
  • Periodic expert review as appropriate (customized)

Antimicrobial Efficacy Claims Testing

NSF’s research and development group, the NSF Applied Research Center (ARC), offers clients third-party independent assessment and verification of their product’s antimicrobial efficacy claims. NSF has decades of expertise in sanitizer and disinfectant testing.  The ARC’s scientific team can assist clients that are in the early stages of product development with product feasibility testing. This testing provides key efficacy performance data to the client and allows for optimizing the concentration of active ingredients, contact time and delivery mechanism. The ARC also can provide analytical chemistry testing to confirm active antimicrobial ingredients and their stability over time.  The ARC’s toxicology team can provide the client with exposure hazard analysis as well as human health risk assessment relating to their product and active compounds. Being a BSL-2 level lab,the ARC can offer evaluation of the product against waterborne, foodborne and clinical relevant microbial strains. The ARC lab also possesses the laboratory expertise to validate biofilm prevention and destruction claims on a diverse range of matrices and substrates.

Specific services include:

  • Antimicrobial efficacy claim testing
    • EPA GLP FIFRA testing
    • Non-GLP feasibility testing
  • Organisms
    • BSL 1-2 Bacteria, fungi, virus
      • Pathogens
      • Indicators
      • Spoilage
  • Applications / industries
    • Water safety
    • Food safety
    • Textiles and personal care products
    • Environmental
    • Healthcare and hospitability
    • Biofilm prevention and removal
    • Packaging integrity and ingress

Case Studies

Case Study – Health Care

A Michigan hospital was experiencing patient readmission due to acquired Pseudomonas aeruginosa infections after being treated in its urology ward. NSF was contracted to determine the reservoirs of infection and consult on best practices for site/equipment remediation and appropriate preventative measures.

Process:

  • Hospital urology ward had 20+ P. aeruginosa HAI’s over a six- month period.
  • NSF conducted a work flow analysis of the care center and sampled >50 surfaces, instruments and water sources.
  • P. aeruginosa isolates confirmed with selective media, MALDI-TOF (mass spec) and metabolic fingerprinting.
  • Coordinated pulse-field gel electrophoresis (PFGE) pattern analysis of isolates with state health lab.
  • Generated antimicrobial susceptibility patterns for the isolates.

Findings:

  • Two distinct P. aeruginosa isolates were observed; one matched the HAI strain.
  • Identified three items in two exam rooms that served as reservoirs for
    P. aeruginosa contamination:
    • Tops of two sanitizer dispensers
    • Cystoscopes

Results:

  • Process change relating to sanitizer dispensers was implemented.
  • Cleaning procedure for cystoscopes was changed.
  • Hospital commissioned NSF to validate the new sterilization protocol for cystoscopes, which resulted in verification of efficacy of new sterilization procedure.
  • Hospital has experienced no new infections since completion of study.

Case Study – Hospitality Norovirus Issue

A major international hotel chain was experiencing recurring infection events over a three-month period at one of its premier resorts due to Norovirus. NSF was contracted to assess the efficacy of current sanitization/disinfection efforts, determine any remaining reservoirs of infection and consult on best practices for site remediation and appropriate preventative measures.

Process:

  • CDC and local public health lab had been contacted to characterize the associated Norovirus strain.
  • Hotel requested NSF’s services in assessing the efficacy of a novel cleaning technology on-site.
  • NSF team mobilized the SAME DAY of the request and had staff on-site to perform environmental analysis of suspected affected areas and surfaces. 
  • Work flow analysis of the conference center was performed and the NSF team sampled dozens of surfaces post disinfection.
  • Swabs were processed via RT-PCR for Norovirus genotype Groups I and II.
  • Following presence/absence results, all positive samples were sequenced to identify the strain of Norovirus.

Findings:

  • Three locations within the conference facility were determined to by inadequately sanitized and were found to be harboring Norovirus.
  • The Norovirus genotype Group II.4 Sydney 2012 strain was identified as the infectious agent and this matched previous patient investigations by the CDC and local public health lab.
  • In addition to identifying areas of concern within the facility, NSF provided an independent review of the hotel’s emergency response protocols, in respect to Norovirus and other infectious agents.

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