Facts You Need to Know About Cleaning and Disinfection


Cleaning and disinfection is a HACCP perquisite that controls general hazards, especially cross contamination, and is important for many reasons. Failure to clean and disinfect thoroughly could lead to enforcement action, food poisoning outbreaks and harmful contaminants in food. Poor cleaning can provide the perfect environment for the harbourage of pests, resulting in some businesses being closed on the spot and receive substantial penalties. A dirty premises can also seriously affect your reputation with customers, including a poor hygiene rating, comments made on social media and scandalous headlines in the press.


Effective cleaning and disinfection is a process that can be fairly simple or quite complex to achieve. This involves thinking about frequency, correct methods, chemicals to use, training, monitoring procedures, and validation and verification methods.


Choosing the right disinfectant is important to reduce biological hazards to a safe level. Consideration should be taken in the characteristics of micro-organism to be destroyed, type of soiling to be removed, water hardness, toxicity, available contact time and standards recommended by the Food Standards Agency.  Selecting the appropriate cleaning equipment and materials are critical in preventing harmful or objection contamination. Metal scouring pads are not advisable because customers have been hospitalised due to metal filaments ending up in food; using paper towel to dry equipment could lead to physical contamination. High powered jet washers are not recommended for cleaning floors and drains because harmful bacteria can be suspended in the air for hours and contaminate food and surfaces.


Cleaning and disinfection is a two-stage process. The first stage physically removes grease, dirt and any other objectionable matter to prevent inactivation of the disinfectant, followed by rinsing with clean water. Disinfection is the second stage. Dilution rate and contact time are important factor in achieving success, but problems can arise when food handlers are unsure about exact contact times. Make sure all food handlers know the correct times for disinfectants.


The process for cleaning must validated to prove the method will actually work effectively. Manufacturers will have already conducted extensive tests to validate cleaning and disinfection chemicals on a range of microorganisms and environments. Although a food business may decide to conduct its own tests. Methods includes ATP (adenosine triphosphate) and microbiological swabbing for biological contamination, litmus paper for chemical residues and ELISA (enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay) tests kits for allergen residues. Equipment should also be dismantled and visually check for extraneous matter.  These tests can also be used as methods of verification.


Cleaning and disinfection procedures must be documented to provide consistency in the application. Standard operating procedures must written sequentially in plain English and supported where possible with pictorial guidance, such as photos and diagrams. Training of procedures must be practical and discuss the consequences when standards are not met.


Cleaning and disinfection is a fundamental principle for reducing the risk of food poisoning and other contaminants in food. The process depends on knowing the characteristics of the hazard, choosing the right method, equipment and chemicals, and competent food handlers. We hope you have enjoyed reading our article.


Contact Percipio Training if would you like to more about how we can support your team. We have a full range of food safety and hygiene courses at very competitive prices.  You can also save money by arranging a course to be delivered on site at your premises. We regularly deliver courses in London, Milton Keynes, Luton, Watford, Stevenage and across the UK. 

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