Starting a home-based food business is a dream of many home cooks. Beginning small, in your kitchen, with shelf-stable baked goods and other allowed foods are a practical way to try out this venture. The place to start is a clean and sanitized kitchen.
Using best management practices for cleaning and sanitizing food contact surfaces is essential for keeping food safe to eat. Implementing routine cleaning and sanitizing procedures will help maintain the safety of food, decrease food spoilage, and increase your business profits.
Cleaning is the physical removal of food debris, soil, dust, grease, and microbes from a surface through scrubbing with a detergent solution and rinsing off detergent and food prior to sanitizing. Always use drinkable water during the cleaning process.
Sanitizing is the process of decreasing the number of micro-organisms to a safe level. Soil, grease, dust, or detergents will inactivate sanitizers, so it is important to clean and rinse a surface before you sanitize it.
Only use sanitizers with labels that state that they are approved for use on food contact surfaces and follow the label instructions for mixing and applying it. The manufacturer is a good resource when determining whether a specific sanitizer is safe for your operation.
The most common sanitizer used on a home kitchen surface is chlorine (unscented bleach). If you choose to use chlorine, check the label to ensure it is safe for use on food contact surfaces and follow concentration levels. You may also want to consider quaternary ammonium or “quats” tablets for sanitizing. *The tablets are dissolved in water according to package directions
Use test strips to determine the concentration of your sanitizing solution. You can purchase them from your supply company. Be sure to follow the instructions for each type of test strip and use a test strip designed for a specific sanitizer.
Use test strips to determine the concentration of your sanitizing solution. You can purchase them from a supply company or through an online store. Be sure to follow the instructions for each type of test strip and use a test strip designed for a specific sanitizer.
Test the concentration of your sanitizing solution when it is initially mixed, and periodically during use, to ensure the concentration is still at an effective level. Sanitizing solutions can lose effectiveness over time due to exposure to air, organic materials, soap, or other factors that cause the chemical to dissipate. Spray bottles of chlorine solutions lose effectiveness after 24 hours.
Several simple recordkeeping strategies will ensure your cleaning and sanitizing procedures are being implemented as planned and as scheduled for your kitchen.
A cleaning and sanitizing schedule and completion log will help you make cleaning and sanitizing a regular part of your operation. In general, a plan will answer the following four questions.
What needs to be cleaned & sanitized?
When should equipment be cleaned & sanitized?
How should each piece of equipment or food contact surface be cleaned?
Who will do the cleaning and sanitizing and how will it be documented?