September is National Food Safety Month! While a lot of things have changed in the Food Industry, the basics of cleaning and sanitizing have not. It’s clear that sanitizing has taken center stage in all our lives recently. Whether you go to work, grab a coffee, or simply pick up some groceries; you will see sanitizer in some form or another the moment you walk in the door. But do you know the difference between cleaning and sanitizing? They are often mistaken for each other. Just because something is clean does not mean it is sanitized. So, what is the difference?
Cleaning is the process of removing physical debris or dirt. You can clean a plate with just a washcloth and water. It is by definition clean, but would you serve a customer in your establishment with that plate? I sure hope not! It is still crawling with bacteria.
Sanitizing is the process of reducing the number of pathogens (bacteria) on a surface to a level considered safe. You are sanitizing when you run that plate through the dishwasher. You can use heat or chemicals for sanitizing.
These two things are not exclusive, they need to work together. If you sanitize something that still has debris on it, you are laboring in vain. If you clean something and ignore the sanitizing process you are risking an illness. It is important that you follow the procedure: clean then sanitize. This will set you up for success in your establishment and ensure a positive reputation and happy customers!