“Cleanliness is next to godliness.”
Across the food industry, legions of plant sanitarians would swear they could comfortably retire if they had a sawbuck for every time they have heard this axiom. While battle fatigue associated with this oft-used adage is understandable, its underlying message—that effective cleaning and sanitizing are essential prerequisites for producing safe, quality food—remains at the core of sanitation training programs.
Sanitizers are generally defined as chemical, thermal, or radiation treatments that are used to disinfect, reduce, or mitigate the growth of microbial contaminates to levels that are considered safe from a public health standpoint. Under U.S. federal regulations, chemicals sold as sanitizers must kill 99.999% of 75 million to 125 million non-pathogenic Escherichia coli and Staphylococcus aureus bacteria during a 30-second exposure at 68°F.1
Due to their widespread popularity, chemical sanitizers are a critical component of plant sanitation programs. Accordingly, these programs should devote ample attention to providing employees with in-depth, continuous training on the proper handling, application, and intended use of chemical sanitizers, particularly those used on food equipment and other product contact surfaces.
Nationwide, the Environmental Protection Agency administers the registration of chemical sanitizers and antimicrobial agents for use on food product contact surfaces. Ideally, chemical sanitizers should:
- be approved for food contact surface application;
- have a broad range or scope of activity;
- be stable under all conditions;
- be tolerant of a broad range of environmental conditions;
- be readily solubilized and possess some detergency;
- be low in toxicity and corrosivity; and
- be inexpensive.2
Over time, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has sanctioned several chemicals for use as no-rinse, food contact surface sanitizers in the processing environment. The fact sheet “Basic Elements of Equipment Cleaning and Sanitizing in Food Processing and Handling Operations” offers an extensive review of commercially available chemical sanitizers.2 It was written by Ronald H. Schmidt, PhD, of the Food Science and Human Nutrition Department, Florida Cooperative Extension Service, Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences, University of Florida. The following section, highlighting excerpts from the fact sheet, provides a brief overview of some common industry sanitizers.| | | Next → | Single Page