To effectively control harmful microorganisms, the concentration of a sanitizer or disinfectant is critical. Using chemical concentration test strips appropriate for the particular chemistry is one way to verify that the concentration is at the optimal or required level.
Misconception No. 4: ATP (adenosine triphosphate) systems can be used to verify the efficacy of a sanitizer or disinfectant.
ATP testing systems verify the effectiveness of cleaning and soil removal, not the efficacy of sanitizers or disinfectants. Organisms, such as bacteria, viruses, or fungi and other cells such as those from foods or humans, contain ATP. ATP testing is based on the principle that, without biomass (including bacteria or soils) on surfaces after cleanup, microbial growth is limited. ATP systems do not verify the efficacy of sanitizers or disinfectants because their chemicals may disrupt the ATP reaction.
Misconception No. 5: When no rinsing is required after using a sanitizer, the remaining chemical residues can attract pathogens.
There is no compelling evidence that pathogens are attracted, or develop resistance, to chemical residues if cleaning is done effectively and sanitizers are used according to the instructions on the product label.
Misconception No. 6: Sanitizers must be certified by the National Science Foundation only.
Sanitizers must be EPA registered and have efficacy, toxicology, stability, and chemistry data to support the claims and directions for use on the approved label. Sanitizers are required to meet specific performance standards in order to make public health claims on their label. Specifically, all sanitizer ingredients must be approved by EPA for use on food contact surfaces. If the sanitizer has a no-rinse claim, its ingredients must also meet EPA-determined food-contact limits at use-dilution levels. Check the product label to verify EPA registration.
When effective cleaning and sanitizing protocols are developed and followed as part of a comprehensive food safety program, the safety of food service establishments and the delight of their guests are better assured.
Dr. Petran is the senior corporate scientist, food safety and public health at Ecolab. Reach her at ruth.petran@ecolab. Steep is director of RD&E foodservice at Ecolab. Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org.