General Producer Guide - National Avian On-Farm Biosecurity Standard
Annex E - Footwear Sanitation

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Footwear sanitation is vital for a strong biosecurity program. As visitors or employees, people can enter a premises and have no physical contact with structures or animals, except for footwear. The process of footwear sanitation, and the best method for your premises, are worth investigating.

Generally, there are three approaches to footwear sanitation: premises-dedicated footwear, disposable foot coverings, and footbaths.

Premises-dedicated footwear

Having several pairs of footwear for employees and visitors is an option. Regardless of the type of footwear, it is important to follow two important guidelines:

  1. The footwear does not leave the biosecurity zone to which it is dedicated; and
  2. The footwear is sanitized on a routine basis.

Generally, the use of dedicated footwear will require an anteroom process (described in Annex B).

Disposable foot coverings

Disposable foot coverings can be a relatively cheap method of footwear sanitation. Before entering a premises or biosecurity zone, foot covers are placed over footwear. Upon exit from the biosecurity zone, the foot covers are removed and disposed of.

Some advantages to foot covers:

  • They are inexpensive.
  • The covers never leave the site.
  • They are small, lightweight, and compact, making it easy to store them at each biosecurity access point.
  • They are quick and easy to use.

Some disadvantages:

  • They are easily torn.
  • Outside footwear is worn in biosecurity zones.
  • They require biosecure disposal.

Some of these disadvantages can be counteracted by cleaning, disinfecting, and drying outside footwear before the coverings are put on.

Footbaths

Note: The use of footbaths is not promoted by On-Farm Food Safety (OFFS) programs, due to the high degree of maintenance required for efficacy and the potential for creating disease reservoirs. It is widely accepted that footbaths are most effective in clean areas and that they should always be used in combination with other preventative actions.

Some advantages to foot baths:

  • They are easy to use and inexpensive.
  • The optics of having a footbath in front of an entrance encourages its use.
  • If used correctly, all surfaces, including deep treads, are exposed to disinfectant.

Some disadvantages:

  • They are high maintenance, in that footbaths need to be monitored closely. Disinfectant solutions should be changed routinely and the container cleaned on a regular basis.
  • Contact time is required for effective sanitation.
  • Depending on the disinfectant used and its concentration, footbaths may be ineffective against all pathogens of concern.
  • Some disinfectants are expensive.

If footbaths are the chosen option for your premises, it is important to understand the process required for their effective use. The four steps for footwear sanitation using a footbath are as follows:

  1. Remove visible debris from the footwear. This requires the physical removal of dirt, mud, manure, etc., using equipment such as a boot brush. Pay extra attention to treads.
  2. Wash footwear with a detergent. This step removes any oils, grease, or biofilms that may be invisible.
  3. Apply disinfectant. (This is the process of stepping into the footbath.)
  4. Ensure appropriate contact time. To be effective, the disinfectant should be in contact with the surfaces of the footwear for a period of time. Most manufacturers provided this information on the disinfectant's container. Depending on the concentration and pathogen, the time is generally about 10 minutes.

Further information:

BC Agricultural Research and Development Corporation

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