Cleaning and Sanitizing
Cleaning is the removal of food, soil, and other types of debris from a surface. By itself, cleaning does not consistently reduce contamination to safe levels. Therefore, food-contact surfaces should be sanitized after being cleaned. Sanitizing reduces the number of illness-causing germs to acceptable levels. Cleaning and sanitizing should be done as often as necessary to prevent the cross-contamination of food.
Surfaces that contact food (e.g., the prep table, cutting board, slicer, knife, or tongs) must be cleaned between uses; or, at least every 4 hours when in continual use. Proper cleaning should be done in the warewash area of a food establishment. Use hot, soapy water for scrubbing and clear water for rinsing. Removing soil from a food-contact surface is important so that the sanitizer is effective. Proper cleaning is always followed by a sanitizer step.
There are two commonly used chemical sanitizers used in food establishments, either for preparing a three-compartment sink or a sanitizer bucket.
- Chlorine (Bleach)*
Concentration: 50- to 100 ppm, with a test strip.
Chlorine-based sanitizers are the most commonly used sanitizers. Typical preparation is 1 tablespoon of chlorine bleach per gallon of water. This sanitizer requires at least a 30-second soaking time to be effective on food-contact surfaces. Chlorine bleach is less effective in hot water and it works best at a temperature range of 55°F to75°F.
*Do not use splashless, scented, non-chlorine or color safe bleach.
- Quaternary Ammonia (QUAT)
Concentration: 200 ppm or per manufacturer’s instruction, with a test strip.
Quaternary ammonium compounds (QUAT) in diluted form are odorless, colorless, and nontoxic. Advantages of QUAT solutions are that they leave a residual antimicrobial film, are stable at high temperatures (see manufacturer instructions), and are more effective in the presence of soil than is a chlorine solution. A longer contact time is needed with the QUAT sanitizer (i.e., for 1 minute). Follow the manufacturer’s label instructions to prepare QUAT.
Using the sanitizers above recommended concentration levels does not result in a better sanitizing solution and may corrode equipment, or high concentrations may be unsafe and leave an odor or bad taste on surfaces. A suitable testing method must be available and used regularly to ensure correct sanitizer levels throughout the day. Every establishment must have appropriate sanitizer test kits available to monitor the sanitizer’s concentration.
There are three ways to clean-up between routine warewashing: A wiping cloth in a sanitizer bucket, a spray bottle and towel, or a pre-moistened wipe. Sanitizer solution (regardless of the type used) must be available in every work area to wipe down equipment (e.g., meat slicers, counters, food preparation tables, cutting boards, and utensils). The surface of the equipment should remain wet with the sanitizer for the required contact time and be allowed to air dry.
Keep wiping cloths stored in a bucket with sanitizer solution when they are not being used. Replace sanitizer solutions when the concentration gets weak or when the solution becomes cloudy. Sanitizer buckets that are easily identifiable (e.g. red buckets) and not used for any other purposes, do not require labels. Buckets that are not easily identifiable must be labeled (i.e., “sanitizer” or the name of the chemical). Store buckets below- and away from foods and food-contact surfaces. Designate a separate sanitizer bucket that is strictly for raw animal products, where needed.
- Spray Bottles
Spray bottles filled with an approved sanitizer at proper concentration are allowed where foods are protected with a waterproof cover; and, never spray a sanitizer solution around open food. Properly label spray bottles (i.e., “sanitizer” or name of chemical). Replace the sanitizer solutions when the sanitizer concentration gets weak or when the solution becomes cloudy. The sanitizer solution should be sprayed onto the surface of equipment and left for the appropriate contact time before being wiped off (see manufacturer’s instructions); or, allowed to air dry.
Purchase wipes with the appropriate sanitizer concentration for use in food establishments and approved for use on food-contact surfaces. Provide for a method (e.g., test strips) to test the sanitizer wipes. Allow for the appropriate sanitizer contact time and allow the sanitizer to air dry.
Telephone: (702) 759-0588
Updated on: June 28, 2019