Is Food Safety A Risk when Sanitizing?

food safety and sanitizing

Owning a food business does not only revolve around the taste and appearance of the food you serve but also the process and environment in which you create your dishes. Poor cleaning practices in the kitchen can lead to the spread of bacteria and diseases. As a business owner, you don’t want to be involved in these kinds of situations which can harm your customers as well as your staff.

Since the pandemic started, more people have become conscious of dining in public and have been more concerned about their health being at risk. Patrons have been demanding businesses disinfect and sanitize their areas to protect customers against the spread of the virus. It is important to sanitize your area including counters, knives, cutting boards, and pots and utensils. To prevent the spread of germs, all these surfaces must both be cleaned and sanitized.

Cleaning vs. Sanitizing vs. Disinfecting

Before diving deeper into the intricacies of food and sanitizing, it is crucial to define similar terms –  cleaning, sanitizing, and disinfecting. These words have been used interchangeably but understanding their significantly different meaning can help you in determining the proper way of using chemicals and preventing pathogens from spreading on surfaces.


This is the removal of dirt and rubbish from a surface. . It’s important to clean a surface first before sanitizing it so the chemicals can better adhere to the surface and work properly.


This process reduces bacteria on the surface to a safe level. Sanitizing is naturally suggested for food contact surfaces as the chemicals are in concentrations that are considered safe.


On the other hand, disinfecting kills almost all of the pathogens present on the surface. Disinfectants have an Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) which claims to kill both bacteria and viruses.

Elements of Good Sanitation

Business owners have to take a broad view when designing and deciding on a cleaning and sanitation program. A cleaning and sanitation program includes many different elements. To know more, here are some elements of good sanitation:

  • Sanitary Design
  • Master Cleaning Schedule
  • Waste Management
  • Routine Cleaning
  • Specialty Cleaning Equipment

Part of a good cleaning and sanitation program is identifying what tools and chemicals to use properly. It is vital to know how to identify a Food-Safe Sanitizer.

Since the start of COVID-19, business owners have been paying more attention to the cleaning products they use, this is to make sure that viruses are not just from COVID-19 but also from other diseases. Take note that when you are cleaning and sanitizing with food around, strong and harsh chemicals aren’t always the best choice and can actually be dangerous.

Chemicals that are labeled “disinfectants” are the most effective when it comes to killing germs, but sometimes these kinds of chemicals are not safe in areas where food is prepared. With this, you will need sanitizers in your commercial kitchen which are food-safe. Non-food-grade sanitizers used for food service areas can make your staff and consumers sick. Problems such as nausea, vomiting, and skin and eye irritation can occur to your consumers and employees when you don’t use the right kinds of sanitizers.

Iodine, chlorine, and quaternary ammonium are some of the approved chemical sanitizers for food-contact surfaces as identified by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). On the other hand, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has regulated sanitizers and disinfectants that are effective in killing viruses including COVID-19, and are safe to use around food. These products can be accessed through their searchable database. Before you purchase cleaning products to use in your commercial restaurant and kitchen, you can search for them on the list to make sure they are safe. Once you find the product on the list, you can also see how to use it correctly. The EPA sets tolerance regarding how much pesticide can remain on food.

Factors to Consider in Using Sanitizers

utilizing sanitizers in cleaning food

The FDA Food Code identifies some chemical sanitizers that can be used and are approved to be used on food-contact surfaces. There are some factors to keep in mind to help you get the most out of your sanitizers:

Right Temperature

To get the most out of your sanitizers, you need to use them at the right temperature. If you use it at the wrong temperature, its effectiveness may be decreased. Different kinds of sanitizers can be effective at different ideal temperatures. You can do research based on what sanitizer you are using and where you would want to use it.

Correct Concentration

Sanitizers require a specific concentration for them to be effective and not dangerous to use. Look for the manufacturer’s instructions and follow them when preparing your solution.


For sanitizers to be effective and do their job, they must be in contact with the surfaces you are cleaning for a certain amount of time.

Proper usage of sanitizers is very important but so is storing them properly. First things first, label those chemicals and sanitizers correctly to avoid harm. If chemicals are not labeled properly, you might forget where to use them or even what kind of chemical it is. Labeling chemicals will also help you to dispose of them properly. Chemicals should also be stored away from food and food contact surfaces. You should have a separate storage area for chemicals and food, it is also recommended that these storages are far from each other to avoid contamination. If cleaning and sanitizing chemicals are stored closer to food and food preparation areas, they might be spilled and can contact food which can cause harm.

Also, avoid using chemicals when food is being served or prepared, droplets of chemicals can drop into the food and contaminate it.

It is very important to be very keen on using sanitizers as it has its pros and cons. One way to make sure that every sanitizer that you use for your business is safe and applied correctly, you can also hire cleaning professionals to help you. You can employ professionals in Fairfield County, Connecticut, or Hartford County, Connecticut to help you out. Look for the best professionals and ensure that every inch of your business is sanitized safely.