The Five Myths of Antimicrobial Technology

BioCote® has been supplying antimicrobial additives and associated support services for over 25 years. During this time, we have heard a lot of interesting claims and counterclaims about the merits and pitfalls of antimicrobial technology – often leading to confusion and inaccurate assumptions. In a bid to provide our customers with an accurate and honest portrayal of what antimicrobial technology can deliver, we thought we would bust a few myths, right a few wrongs and share a few home truths.

1. ‘Antimicrobial additives or the products protected by them don’t work in real life situations’

Most data provided by suppliers of products containing antimicrobial technology is generated under laboratory conditions. If an antimicrobial product can beat the microbes in the lab – where conditions for them to grow are at absolute optimum levels – they will have no problem in the real world. 

However, BioCote® understands the confidence real-life data provides, and that is why we regularly conduct studies in settings such as schools, hospitals and care homes to measure the performance of our treated partner products and demonstrate their everyday benefits. These studies repeatedly show that BioCote® technology is a reliable means to reduce the presence of microbes, such as bacteria and mould, on protected surfaces in real-life environments, not just in the lab.

2. ‘Antimicrobials can be dangerous to human health and the environment’

Antimicrobials are chemicals which are used to reduce the presence of microbes. Just like any other chemical, the inappropriate use of antimicrobial additives can have potentially damaging consequences. This is why their supply and use are tightly regulated across the globe. 

We have seen some antimicrobials, like Triclosan, withdrawn from the market because of concerns about the safety of people, animals and/or the environment. However, our expertise means that all additives supplied by BioCote® are application-appropriate and registered with the relevant governing authorities around the world. Rest assured, antimicrobial additives can be used with confidence and without concern of unwanted side effects; and if they couldn’t, we simply would not supply them.

3. ‘It’s very hard, if not impossible, to determine if antimicrobial additives are in a particular product and, if so, which one is used’

Whilst the benefits of antimicrobial technology are obvious and the process of making materials antimicrobial is a clearly defined multiple-step approach that involves commitment from both the solution provider and the client, it’s often difficult for the end-user to ‘see’ that the technology is indeed integrated into products and that it’s working effectively.  To support our clients in demonstrating antimicrobial presence in their products and enable them to communicate why their customers should care about protected products, BioCote® offers a taggant as well as a taggant detector.

A taggant is used in our antimicrobial additives as a chemical marker to allow traceability of our technology in materials.  The taggant is blended in with the antimicrobial additive by BioCote®, meaning that when the antimicrobial additive is added into a client’s product at the manufacturing stage, the taggant will automatically be added as well.

To find out more about our taggant technology, click here

4. ‘Manufacturers stretch the truth of their marketing claims about the benefits of antimicrobial products, potentially misleading consumers’

We accept this can happen, but not with BioCote® partner companies. In fact, a condition of working with BioCote® is that we must approve any antimicrobial claims made by our partners prior to them being published. A company marketing a treated article in the correct manner should be able to substantiate any performance claims made about their product by providing appropriately gathered data – whether that’s about the types of microbes which the technology is effective against or how long the protection will last. Misleading consumers with outlandish claims is not only inappropriate but it also flies directly in the face of existing legislation which has been put into place to protect consumers and enable them to make informed buying decisions.

In the EU, the Biocidal Products Regulation 528/2012 (EU BPR) demands that any treated articles placed on the market must be labelled accordingly, i.e. state that the product contains a biocide, detail what the biocide is and stipulate the purpose for its inclusion. Furthermore, manufacturers must be prepared to share detailed information in writing about the additive and how it has been applied to their product upon request. 

Likewise, to legally market a treated article in the USA under the terms of FIFRA, a primary requirement is that you are using an EPA registered pesticide, such as those supplied by BioCote®. Failure to do this can result in substantial loss of brand reputation, potential hefty fines for the improper marketing of an unregistered pesticide and stop of sales or recalls. When it comes to biocides, the concept of hidden or mystery ingredients is definitely a thing of the past.

5. ‘You don’t have to clean antimicrobial products and surfaces’

The answer is simple: this is not true. Antimicrobial technology will not remove dirt and grime, but it will enhance any existing cleaning regimes by reducing the growth of microbes in between cleans. 

There is no doubt that proper cleaning practices are essential in helping to minimise cross-contamination, but even the most thorough of routines have performance limitations. Typically, cleaning chemicals have only a short-term effect and require repeated application, whereas surfaces with integrated BioCote® antimicrobial technology benefit from around-the-clock protection against microbes, such as bacteria, mould and fungi, meaning contamination levels can be controlled and the hygiene of surfaces can be maintained until the next time cleaning is due.

As you have probably guessed, choosing the right antimicrobial brand to partner with is an important decision that can be the difference between success and failure. A partnership with BioCote® not only offers you a strong relationship with a trusted and global brand, but also access to the collective knowledge and experience of a team who will become your dedicated antimicrobial department.

For more information on the merits of BioCote® Technology and the benefits of partnering with us, get in touch today.

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