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Friday, February 27, 2015


Can you tell me the difference between sanitizing and cleaning a food preparation area?


Answer #1:
The main difference between a sanitizer and a disinfectant is that at a specified use dilution, the disinfectant must have a higher kill capability for pathogenic bacteria compared to that of a sanitizer.
Microbiologists point out that it is difficult to sanitize or disinfect a surface containing heavy amounts of soil because organic matter may counteract disinfectant properties. Here are the generally accepted definitions (however USDA, EPA, CDC and FDA may not all agree):
SANITIZER - a chemical agent which is capable of killing 99.9% of the infectious organisms which may be present in a bacterial population, within 30 seconds.
DISINFECTANT – a chemical agent capable of reducing the level of pathogenic bacteria by 99.999% during a time frame greater than 5 but less than 10 minutes.
STERILANT – a process that results in destruction of all forms of microbial life, including spores. In hospital settings an autoclave is capable of sterilization.
The Department of Health CDC (Center for Disease Control) has stated in several guidelines that “the actual physical removal of microorganisms by scrubbing is probably as important, if not more so, than any antimicrobial effect of the cleaning agent used.”
The type of surface and use, will normally determine if the area must be disinfected in addition to cleaning. For example, USDA and local health departments would normally require cleaning and disinfection of all food preparation surfaces, whereas floors would be exempt from disinfection.
Gary Clipperton
National Pro Clean Corp.
(719) 598-5112

Answer # 2:
In the food service setting, common usage for “cleaning” indicates removal of trash and food garbage, possibly floor sweeping and mopping. "Sanitizing" implies washing and rinsing food preparation and serving surfaces with detergent solution and hot water and or a chemical sanitizer, leaving them safe (microorganism free enough) to eat or serve food. However, neither term indicates disinfection by chemical or other means.
Sanitary means clean, hygienic, and is commonly used in connection with preserving public health. The Sanitation Department, for example, removes trash and garbage in those big trucks.
Lynn E. Krafft, ICAN Associate Editor for ATEX