Cleaning is a process that removes dirt, dust, food particles and/or smells.
Sanitising is a process that removes bacteria or at least reduces bacteria to a safe level so as to prevent food-borne illness.
During these processes you must therefore consider that detergent removes grease and grime and that sanitisers kill bacteria.
A food business must ensure that the following items are cleaned and sanitised:
- Eating and drinking utensils before each use;
- and the food contact surfaces of equipment, whenever food that will come into contact with these surfaces, is likely to be contaminated. This includes items such as chopping boards, food preparation benches, mixing bowls, storage containers, cooking equipment, knives, tongs and thermometers – basically anything that comes into direct contact with food. These items should be cleaned and sanitised prior to contact with food or between being used for raw and ready-to-eat foods. In certain circumstances, it may be necessary to clean and sanitise equipment during production. For example, every four hours when processing potentially hazardous food, or between batches or lots to avoid contamination being transferred from one batch to another.
When washing food contact items and utensils, the process should include the following six steps to ensure proper cleaning:
- Pre-clean: The pre-clean involves scraping, wiping or sweeping away food scraps and then rinsing with water.
- Wash: Washing involves using hot water and detergent to take off any grease and dirt. Soaking may be required.
- Rinse: Rinsing off any loose dirt or detergent foam.
- Sanitise: Using an appropriate sanitiser.
- Final Rinse: Washing off the sanitiser. (Read sanitiser’s instructions to see if you need to do this).
- Dry: Allowing to drip-dry.
Remember it is not appropriate to use tea towels for drying as they can transfer contamination if they are not clean.
When using sanitisers, they should be food grade and the manufacturers’ instructions should be carefully followed especially with regard to dilution rates and application methods.
When sanitising food preparation benches, it is recommended that a food-grade non-rinse type sanitiser be used. This will make the sanitation process easier as the sanitiser can be simply sprayed onto the surface then wiped off with a paper towel after the required application period.