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Cleaning and Sanitizing Best Practices for Food Handlers

February 24, 2024
Cleaning and Sanitizing Best Practices for Food Handlers
Food Handler Certification Category Blog

There’s a difference between cleaning at home and cleaning in a restaurant where there is a possibility of a food safety risk for your patrons. Even the most thorough home cleaners can find areas to improve when it comes to cleaning and sanitizing.

Adhering to state food safety standards is important, both before, during and after preparing food. Here are some techniques and best practices to ensure you and the food handlers at your establishment are properly cleaning AND sanitizing.

Understand the Difference

Many people don’t know that there’s a difference between cleaning and sanitizing. Here’s a breakdown of each:

  • Cleaning: involves removing visible dirt and debris (e.g. wiping down surface areas, rinsing, etc.).
  • Sanitizing: reduces the number of microorganisms on a surface to a safe level (e.g. using cleaning agents, soaking in soap, etc.).

Both cleaning and sanitizing are important for food safety, but there’s a difference between them and food handlers should know how to do each.

Use the Right Cleaning Agents

Select appropriate cleaning agents based on the surface and the type of dirt or grime. Utilize detergents and degreasers for general cleaning and ensure they are suitable for food-contact surfaces. Read and follow the manufacturer's instructions for effective use. If you don’t have control over what cleaning agents you use, consider being proactive and bringing it to the attention of your manager or the owner.

Establish a Cleaning Schedule

The cleanest food environments usually have some sort of schedule for consistency. Not only should you decide on the frequency of cleaning and sanitizing, but also the responsible individuals and each area that will be cleaned. You don’t want to miss any crucial areas and a cleaning schedule will help you do that.

Follow Proper Techniques

Even if you are cleaning, there are some techniques that can improve its effectiveness. Here are just a few examples of proper cleaning and sanitizing techniques:

  • Remove loose dirt and visible dirt first (e.g. cleaning)
  • Apply cleaning agents on the tool you’re using (e.g. cloth, mop, etc.)
  • Scrub surfaces thoroughly; don’t forget hard-to-reach areas
  • Rinse with clean water to remove residues and trace cleaning agents

These are just a few cleaning and sanitizing best practices for food handlers. To get more food safety insights, consider signing up for a food handler certification course from American Course Academy today.

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