A Call for Action to Increase the Scrutiny of Surface Cleaning and Cleaning Agents in Retail Food Establishments
According to the most recent Food and Drug Administration Retail Food Risk Factor Study, proper cleaning and sanitization of food contact surfaces in retail establishments remain an unmet need, with up to 60% of delis, fast food, and full-service restaurants failing to comply with the cleaning objectives for food contact surfaces set forth by the FDA model Food Code. While these results could reflect shortcomings with proper chemical sanitizer use, its critical preceding cleaning step (i.e., the effective removal of soils and particles that allow for viruses and bacteria such as norovirus or Salmonella to survive and infect individuals) is likely a significant performance culprit. Indeed, if tools were available to accurately evaluate proper cleaning of encrusted grease and food soils beyond a qualitative “clean to sight and touch” guideline, the actual incidence of environmental sanitation violations would most certainly increase.
This practice gap is critical, for without a proper cleaning step, visible and invisible food soils that linger on glasses, utensils, dishes, and general food contact surfaces can inhibit or quench quaternary, chlorine, iodine, or lactic acid sanitizing chemistries, thus rendering food contact sanitizers ineffective. Accordingly, overlooking the cleaning step can result in a false reassurance of sanitation and heightened risk for foodborne infection transmission. What is more beneficial in this cleaning and detergent product performance vacuum is a combination of the following framework we call the four Ps: product, procedure, place, and practice.
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Published: May 2023
- Juan Goncalves, PhD, Procter & Gamble
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