How UVC Light Kills Bacteria (And Why You Should Use It)

by | Mar 18, 2022

In the food and beverage industry, you’ll be well aware that keeping your facility clean is paramount.

Ultraviolet-C bandwidth light, known more commonly as UVC, is one such technology that can drastically improve the disinfection of your facility.

Today, we’ll be breaking down:

  • What UVC is
  • How UVC Light disinfects
  • UVC’s time to kill bacteria
  • Industry Applications

Let’s dive in!

About UVC

In our previous article, we discussed how Ultraviolet-C (UVC) bandwidth light is non-visable light on the spectrum approximately 265 nanometres (nm).

UVC light has germicidal properties as it denatures DNA at a cellular level. This means that UVC bandwidth light can disinfect surfaces and everything else it directly irradiates.

We highlighted the reducing costs and increasing availability of LED powered UVC lighting and how this method of disinfection has become far more viable.

It’s an exciting new innovation we are developing that could drastically improve current hygiene practices and offer powerful clean in place (CIP) options for valuable machinery.

But how does UVC actually kill bacteria? And is it effective?

How UVC Kills Bacteria

UV light is electromagnetic radiation containing wavelengths shorter than visible light, however, longer than X-rays. The UV-C wavelength is on the ultraviolet light spectrum between 200 to 280 nanometers.

UV-C light works by denaturing the genetic material (DNA) of bacteria, preventing them from reproducing and thus, rendering them harmless.

Ultraviolet technology is unique in how it disinfects as it does not involve the more traditional approach of chemical destruction. This can make it a very attractive strategy particularly in ready to eat (RTE) applications in the industrial food and beverage sector.

UVC Efficacy Rates

There have been several studies investigating the efficacy of UVC for disinfection.

It’s efficacy depends on many factors, including:

  • Distance of application
  • The type of pathogen (e.g. Salmonella, Lysteria, etc.)

SGA recently completed our own independent testing of UVC at one at our locations. We were able to reduce bacterial load by 20% with just 15 seconds of application on a portion of raw beef.

We project we will be able to cut down ~ 99% of the bacterial load within 115 seconds from an application distance of 30cm.

As we continue our testing it is worth noting that the efficacy rate varies tremendously depending on the porousness of the surface. A more porous surface like a cut of meat for example is much more difficult to disinfect due to the fine troughs and valleys that bacteria can hide from direct exposure to the UVC light. Many studies suggest stainless steel to be one of the most effective surfaces for UVC irradiation, which is very promising for food and beverage industry.

Applications For The Food & Beverage Industry

The evidence suggests that UVC can offer effective CIP applications and as LED fixtures evolve, perhaps an effective supplemental way to improve facilities hygiene.

However, at this stage it should be used in conjunction with traditional chemical cleaning practices to ensure safety of food production surfaces.

About Our UVC Products

SGA are currently in the process of developing and refining UVC LED technology in the pursuit of creating new technology that can reduce microbiological counts without human input.

After extensive testing, we hope to start including UVC applications in many of our client’s facilities to further improve the level of disinfection we can achieve.

We call our technology ‘LightGuard’.

We hope to release more information about this upcoming technology as it evolves.