Washing an item gets the big pieces off (cleans it) but sanitizing is what kills the bacteria and viruses. In order to be effective, sanitizers need to be used on a surface that has already been washed as a sanitizer will only eliminate the bacteria and viruses on the surface. This is why commercial food service establishments have a 3 compartment sink to wash, rinse, and then sanitize the dishes or a commercial grade dishwasher that performs the same process. Notice that there is not a rinse step after the sanitizing. This is because the sanitizers work as they air dry on the surface and if mixed in the proper concentrations, they leave no chemical behind, only a clean sanitized surface. Similarly, hand sanitizers are only effective if applied to hands that have been washed first; they are not a substitute for hand washing, but rather an addition to it.
Sanitizing is done by either a chemical or with high temperature. Chemicals need to be used in proper concentrations. Too strong and there is chemical residue left behind that can cause a bad taste or even an allergic reaction, too weak and there simply isn’t enough chemical to effectively kill the bacteria or viruses that are present on the surface. The two most common chemicals used for sanitizing are chlorine and quaternary ammonia. Household bleach can be used to make an effective chlorine sanitizer and the best recipe is a Tablespoon of bleach in a gallon of water, remember, proper concentration is very important.
If high temperature is used as a means of sanitizing the surface temperature must reach at least 165 degrees F.
Sanitizers play a very key role in helping to eliminate food borne illness in restaurants and should also play a very important role in home kitchens as well. A little solution of bleach and water can go a long ways in keeping a bad case of the “stomach flu” from making an unwanted appearance at your house. Without it, that grubby cloth towel hanging on the refrigerator or oven door that you use to wipe off the counter tops is nothing more than a germ spreading machine.
In section 04 we look a three different facets of sanitization; temperature, concentration, and exposure time.
04a- Manual Sanitization
This refers to surfaces such as cutting boards and countertops that are sanitized with a wiping cloth that has been soaked in sanitizing solution or use of a 3 compartment sink. A violation of 04a could be for sanitizer that is not strong enough or not leaving a food utensil for the proper amount of time (1 minute) in the sanitizing compartment of the 3 sink set up.
04b- Mechanical Sanitization
This section refers to the dish washer or glass washer. Violations of this section could occur if the machine does not have enough chemical in the sanitizing cycle or on a high temperature machine if the washer is not getting the items inside up to 165 degrees on the final sanitizing rinse.
04c- In Place Sanitization
This refers to items such as ice cream makers that have internal components that need to be sanitized by the addition of a sanitizer to the machine because they can not be properly cleaned and sanitized from the outside and the parts don’t come off so they can be run through the dish washer. These items are fairly rare but it is very important that employees are familiar with how to properly perform this type of sanitizing procedure if they have the kind of equipment that requires it. Usually there is a packet that is supplied by the chemical company made specifically for this purpose that is food safe.
Please contact Rachel Burmeister at 970-920-5075 with any food safety or restaurant related questions.