Preventing Food with Steam Sterilization

We often hear about the process of Steam Sterilization these days & have our understanding of the process as well as some myths associated with the same. Just to name a few, some believe that steam sterilization might cook the product to some extent or change its color or composition! But really what is this process & why do we need the same is the main concern that needs to be known to all. Also since we hear too much about it these days, it is mandatory to understand why it is done.

Steam Sterilization is the process which removes, kills, eliminates all types of biological agents like bacteria, fungi, spore forms, the unicellular eukaryotic organism such as plasmodium which are present in the region of surface, medication or a compound such as biological culture. So the process does not involve in changing the physical characteristics of any product like the aroma or color. It only changes the microbial characteristics& makes the product safer to be consumed.

Sterilization is done in different ways like chemical, heat, irradiation, filtration, and high pressure. Sterilization kills, eliminate or deactivates all types of biological agents and forms of life which are present.

Steam Sterilization is simple decontamination method but very effective.

Sterilization can be done to all types of Seeds, Nuts, Powder and wholes, different types of herbs and spice products. It also helps to increase the shelf life of the products. It is quite an expensive affair but a very useful process.

The Steam sterilization is achieved by exposing products to saturated steam at a high temperature of 121°C to 134°C. Products are placed in a device which is known as autoclave and heated through pressurized steam to kill all spore and microorganisms.

There are also Portable steam sterilizers used in dental, rural clinics and outpatient.  They are specially designed for small instruments such Needles, syringes and dental procedure equipment and instruments. To achieve sterilization physical parameters should be monitored by chemical, mechanical and biological indicators.

The two most common types of steam sterilization are – the Gravity displacement autoclave and the High-speed pre-vacuum sterilizer.

Other types of steam sterilizations

  • Small table-top sterilizer
  • Portable steam sterilizer
  • Emergency sterilization or flash sterilization [form of gravity displacement]

Mode of Actions:

The irreversible coagulation and denaturation of enzymes and structural proteins are destroyed by moist heat. Due to this fact it has been found that presence of moisture significantly affects the coagulation temperature of proteins and the temperature at which microorganisms are destroyed.

The Advantage of Steam Sterilization:

It can be done for powder, anhydrous oils, ad glass.

It helps to reach the surfaces of instruments that cannot be disassembled.

Steam Sterilization is done whenever possible on all items which are Semi critical and critical which are moisture and heat resistant.

Steam sterilizers also are used in healthcare facilities to decontaminate microbiological waste and sharps containers.

It is non-toxic to environment, patient, and staff.

Sterilization cycle is easy to control and monitor.

The Disadvantage of steam Sterilization:

The items which are to be steam sterilize they must be heat and moisture resistant.

Ointments and oils cannot be steam sterilized.