Avoiding cross-contamination: are you sanitizing or just cleaning?

Learn the difference.

Cross contamination prevention in the kitchen demands sanitizing, not just cleaning. Which one are you doing? Learn the difference.

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Most likely, we don't have to lecture you about the importance of sanitized washing results - especially not in 2020, with a pandemic sweeping through our society, challenging us all in so many levels of our daily lives. We're also pretty sure that you already know that cross-contamination is a big risk when handling food, and that exposing your customers and guests to pathogenic bacteria can lead to both stomach ache and food poisoning - or in the worst case: death. 

So, despite all of this knowledge - how come manually washing pots and pans in a sink is still so common? They soak, scrub, and clean. Do you get sanitized results by doing so? The answer is without a doubt NO.

– It’s impossible to sanitize pots and pans in a manual process, as the high temperatures needed to do so would be too hot for a human to handle. The wash water temperature in a sink is generally low, often around 40-45 °C, which is not nearly enough for full sanitization. Bacteria and microorganisms survive in temperatures ranging from -2 to +60 °C, says Ulrika AHNFELT GRAN, Product Manager at GRANULDISK and continues:

– Some spores can even survive in boiling water. Bacteria love warm and moist environments full of food scraps. Also, most microorganisms thrive at a neutral pH, and sink detergent holds a pH of 6-8. This means that bacteria can survive in sinks for more than 6 hours. So a "cleaned" but not sanitized pot is really contaminated and could transfer potentially dangerous bacteria over to freshly produced food – in cases where the food it's not heated up to 100 degrees.

(Read more: How to defeat virus and bacteria and avoid cross-contamination)


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Cleaning

     

    • A process that removes food, scraps, and grease from pots, pans, utensils, etc.
    • Detergent is often pH neutral - inefficient elimination of germs, bacteria, and other microorganisms.
    • Temperatures around 40-45 °C - inefficient elimination of germs, bacteria, and other microorganisms.

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Sanitising

     

    • A process that eliminates germs, bacteria, and other microorganisms. An absolute necessity for anything that has been - and will - be in contact with food, to avoid cross-contamination.
    • Achieved through high temperatures, using steam or hot water (above 85 °C - most commercial dishwasher temperature requirements). 
    • Achieved through chemical sanitization - alkaline detergents and chemicals, pH around 11.

Most microorganisms thrive at a neutral pH, and that is why bacteria can survive in sinks for more than 6 hours.

Ulrika Ahnfelt Gran - Product Manager, Granuldisk
Quotes Image 529X356 Ulrika Lecturing About Sanitizing Or Cleaning

- Most microorganisms thrive at a neutral pH, and that is why bacteria can survive in sinks for more than 6 hours. A poorly sanitized and therefore contaminated pot could potentially transfer bacteria over to grow in freshly produced food – as not all food is heated up to 100 °C, says Ulrika Ahnfelt Gran, Product Manager at Granuldisk.


Question

So, what do you need to sanitize your wash ware?

Answer

First, you need to stop manual washing in sinks. To get safe results, you need a machine that uses high temperatures and alkaline detergent - i.e. a pH of around 11. After sanitizing your pots, be mindful - drying them with paper or a towel will contaminate them all over again. Instead, use a drying agent in the rinse water to get the wash ware dry.


– When deciding to invest in a new ware washing solution, make sure that it follows hygiene guidelines: DIN 10512 and/or NSF/ANSI-3 requirements. Then you can be sure that your solution provides high enough temperatures (wash temp around 65 degrees and rinse temp of at least 85 degrees) to sanitize your wash ware properly, says Ulrika AHNFELT GRAN.

Question

Do you have some other tips for cross contamination prevention and achieving sanitized results?

Answer

– It’s important to serve for good personal hygiene among the staff - such as washing hands - to make sure that the wash ware isn't contaminated after sanitization. Also, keep the line of incoming dirty wares clearly separated from the clean wash ware.

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Since Granuldisk started in the late '80s, one of our core missions has been to provide sanitized and clean wash ware to our customers. Having met millions of customers in the commercial kitchen industry world-wide, week after week, year after year, we’ve gathered a lot of knowledge about safe washing results. We'd love to share our knowledge and learnings with you.

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