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Food Safety Sanitizing and Disinfection They are Not the Same - Complete with Great Quiz

Updated on May 20, 2015

No matter how beautiful and clean your bathroom may appear - appearance can be deceptive - clean is not sanitized. Sanitized is not disinfected. Science is teaching us today that "clean is not enough". The standards have changed and the bar has been raised significantly

Do you know the difference between these three - clean, sanitized and disinfected?

The intent of this article is a simple introduction to allow the lay person to understand the practical aspects of cleaning and sanitizing. Our purpose is simple to improve our knowledge base of bacteria and detail that bacteria that is unseen and also be an unseen killer.

Protect your family, your business, familiarize yourself beyond clean. Know what it means to sanitize and what it means to disinfect. Learn why cleaning is the very first step. See firsthand how a clean surface can harbor potentially dangerous bacteria.

Clean is Not Sanitized

colorful poster detailing clean is not sanitized
colorful poster detailing clean is not sanitized | Source

Not All Bacteria Is Harmful

As we go through this discussion of bacteria with a focus upon eliminating bacteria, we must take into consideration, not all bacteria is harmful.

Additionally, a harmful bacteria to one human can pose a different health risk to another.

Typically, children and the elderly are more susceptible to harmful bacteria.

Healthy people who are stressed or over tired can be more susceptible than their typical state.

Eating well, exercising makes our bodies stronger and always help in a world that harbor bacteria of all types.

No matter what your decorating style is - from colonial and Victorian classic to ultra modern or seashore fun, ALL of us need to know about germs and safety, we must recognize that the world harbors unseen, potentially harmful bacteria and we must learn what steps we must take to effectively prevent illness.

White May Appear Clean But Can Harbor Bacteria - Why Cleaning the Bathroom May Not Be Enough

Click thumbnail to view full-size
A beautiful white bathroom can harbor bacteriaA beautiful white bathroom can harbor bacteriaA beautiful white bathroom can harbor bacteriaA beautiful white bathroom set can harbor bacteriaA beautiful white bathroom tub can harbor bacteriaA beautiful white bathroom can harbor bacteriaA beautiful white bathroom can harbor bacteria
A beautiful white bathroom can harbor bacteria
A beautiful white bathroom can harbor bacteria | Source
A beautiful white bathroom can harbor bacteria
A beautiful white bathroom can harbor bacteria | Source
A beautiful white bathroom can harbor bacteria
A beautiful white bathroom can harbor bacteria | Source
A beautiful white bathroom set can harbor bacteria
A beautiful white bathroom set can harbor bacteria | Source
A beautiful white bathroom tub can harbor bacteria
A beautiful white bathroom tub can harbor bacteria | Source
A beautiful white bathroom can harbor bacteria
A beautiful white bathroom can harbor bacteria | Source
A beautiful white bathroom can harbor bacteria
A beautiful white bathroom can harbor bacteria | Source

Clean is Not Sanitized - Beauty Can Harbor Harmful Bacteria and Disease

Pyramid of Un Clean, Clean, Disinfected and Sanitized
Pyramid of Un Clean, Clean, Disinfected and Sanitized | Source

3 Log Reduction

Sanitizers kills at a "3 Log Reduction" A 3 log reduction is a bacteria kill within 30 seconds that kills a bacterial population.


Registration with the Environmental Protection Agency

Here in the United States, the regulatory agency for any product that claims to kill bacteria or viruses must be registered with the Environmental Protection Agency, commonly referred to as the EPA.

While at first this seems disjointed, remember the foundation of killing bacteria is changing the environment. The oversight of products that claim to kill bacteria, therefore are logically placed under the regulation and control by the EPA.

All Natural Sanitizers Are the Solutions for the Future

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Colforful Poster to Promote Killing Germs Effectively - Clean DisinfectPrevent Illness with All Natural Sanitizers Such as Ozone and Electrolyzed WaterDisinfect for HealthColorful Poster for Practices for Cleanroom Contamination Control
Colforful Poster to Promote Killing Germs Effectively - Clean Disinfect
Colforful Poster to Promote Killing Germs Effectively - Clean Disinfect | Source
Prevent Illness with All Natural Sanitizers Such as Ozone and Electrolyzed Water
Prevent Illness with All Natural Sanitizers Such as Ozone and Electrolyzed Water | Source
Disinfect for Health
Disinfect for Health | Source
Colorful Poster for Practices for Cleanroom Contamination Control
Colorful Poster for Practices for Cleanroom Contamination Control | Source

EPA and DIN Registrations

All products that claim to kill bacteria or viruses must be registered with the Enviornmental Protection Agency. EPA registration numbers should be clearly displayed upon the product label.

For Canadian products, the registration number is the "Drug Identification Number (DIN)".

Disinfectants and Antimicrobials

Disinfectants and antimicrobials are terms that describe products that destry pathogenic microorganisms.


Sanitizers

Sanitizers kill 99.9% of germs and spores.


Disinfectants kill bacteria but not to the same level as a sanitizer. Disinfectants may not kill spores or viruses, sanitizers are more comprehensive and must kill 99.9% over a specific period of time.

Definition of Efficacy

"efficacy /ef·fi·ca·cy/ (ef´ĭ-kah-se)1. the ability of an intervention to produce the desired beneficial effect in expert hands and under ideal circumstances.2. the ability of a drug to produce the desired therapeutic effect."

How Does the EPA Register and Label Products That Kill Bacteria

EPA Reg# = Primary Registrant not Brand

"Only primary product names from the primary registrants are included in the lists. All EPA’s registered pesticides must have an EPA registration number (EPA Reg#)."

Alternative brand names have the same EPA Reg# as the primary product name.

The EPA Reg# of a product for primary registrants consists of two set of numbers separated by a hyphen (-). (for example EPA Reg#12345-12.) The first set of numbers refers to the registrant’s identification number and the second set of numbers represents the product number.

A distributor’s product is the same as the primary product, and may use a different brand name, but must have the first two sets of EPA Reg# of the primary registrant, plus a third set of numbers that represents the Distributor/Relabeler ID number. (for example EPA Reg#12345-12-2567.)

The EPA Reg# of a product is more important to determine the identity of the EPA registered product than its brand name.

An EPA Establishment number (EPA Est#) is the place where a product, a formulation or a device is produced and it is indicated by a set of codes which consist of the registrant’s ID number followed by the State where the product is made and facility number (for example EPA Est.#12345-CA-2)." source: www.epa.gov

Bacteria Can Be Eliminated in Three Methods

Antimicrobials can kill, eliminate bacteria essentially in 3 methods:

  1. "Cell membrane destruction" - This process results in a true microbial death.
  2. "Inactivation of critical enzymes"
  3. "Inhibition of food uptake and waste excretion"- In this process, essentially the cell is both starved and poisoned by its own wastes.

Remember, when bacteria is killed, it typically kills indiscriminately without any distinction between good bacteria and bad.

Some bacteria has been found to be impossible to kill by method 2 or 3. Some harmful bacteria such as MRSA is best combated with the destruction of this potentially deadly bacteria's membrane.


Disinfectant

A disinfectant must be capable of reducing the level of pathogenic bacteria by 99.999% during a time frame greater than 5 but less than 10 minutes.

In general, the difference between a sanitizer and a disinfectant is that the disinfectant must have a higher kill capability for pathogenic bacteria compared to that of a sanitizer.

What is True Microbial Death?

Without detailing too many scientific terms, a true microbial death is the destruction of the cells membrane. In the case of ozone, the destruction is from the inside out and is often referred to as "cell lysing". The destruction of the membrane of the cell is a "true microbial death" that causes total destruction of the cells.


Not all disnfectants are capable of sterilizing.


EPA Performance Standards Simplified

Sanitizer Test (for inanimate, non-food contact surfaces)

"The results must show a bacterial reduction of at least 99.9% over the parallel control count within 5 minutes."

Sanitizing Rinses (for previously cleaned food-contact surfaces)

"Acceptable results must demonstrate a 99.999% reduction in the number of microorganisms within 30 seconds."


Sterilizer and Sporicide

A "sterilizer" is defined by the US EPA as an antimicrobial pesticide that destroys or eliminates all forms of microbial life in the inanimate environment, including bacterial spores. Furthermore, the EPA has deemed the term "sporicide" to be synonymous with "sterilizer".

EPA - Hard Surfaces and Food and Surfaces that Have No Contact With Food

The EPA details the difference between hard surfaces and food and also surfaces that have no contact with food.

This precise distinction makes sense because the contact of food directly affects our health.

Understanding the EPA guidelines helps us as homemakers and business managers understand how to effectively combat bacteria and prevent illness.

Cleaning is a Prerequisite for Sanitizing

It is important to note that clean is not sanitized and sanitizing can not be effective if the surface is not clean.

Imagine walking in a mud puddle. You can sanitize the surface of your muddy boots but you know the boot is not clean. Now visual believing your muddy boot is sanitized and then you chip the mud. Lo and behold the chip breaks open and reveal new bacteria.

Cleaning the surface is the first pre-requisite to any and all sanitizing.

Sanitizing is Segregated

As we mentioned, sanitizing is segregated Into non-food contact surfaces & food-contact surfaces. This is critical to understand for food safety.

Clean May Appear To Be Free of Bacteria But Clean is Not Sanitized

Click thumbnail to view full-size
A elegant clear bathroom basin with wall mounted faucet. A clean bathroom sink basin could be visually clean and yet not be sanitized.A elegant clear bathroom basin with wall mounted faucet. A clean bathroom sink basin could be visually clean and yet not be sanitized.A elegant clear bathroom basin that appears to be cut glass with a two handle faucet.A clean bathroom sink basin could be visually clean and yet not be sanitized.
A elegant clear bathroom basin with wall mounted faucet. A clean bathroom sink basin could be visually clean and yet not be sanitized.
A elegant clear bathroom basin with wall mounted faucet. A clean bathroom sink basin could be visually clean and yet not be sanitized. | Source
A elegant clear bathroom basin with wall mounted faucet. A clean bathroom sink basin could be visually clean and yet not be sanitized.
A elegant clear bathroom basin with wall mounted faucet. A clean bathroom sink basin could be visually clean and yet not be sanitized. | Source
A elegant clear bathroom basin that appears to be cut glass with a two handle faucet.A clean bathroom sink basin could be visually clean and yet not be sanitized.
A elegant clear bathroom basin that appears to be cut glass with a two handle faucet.A clean bathroom sink basin could be visually clean and yet not be sanitized. | Source

Surviving Microorganisms - Future Contamination

"Sanitizers are capable of destroying 99.999% of the bacteria present. In essence, a surface which initially harbor 1,000,000 bacteria per square centimeter prior to sanitation may be expected to contain only 10 microorganisms per square centimeter afterwards."

"The remaining 10 surviving microorganisms capable of withstanding the sanitization procedure, have the potential to act as a source of future contamination."

Proper cleaning is essential before effective sanitization can occur.

Test Your Knowledge

colorful poster with orange rubber gloves, purple spray bottle with the words "Take our quiz on food safety, cleaning and sanitizing - Clean is not sanitized"
colorful poster with orange rubber gloves, purple spray bottle with the words "Take our quiz on food safety, cleaning and sanitizing - Clean is not sanitized" | Source

Take Our Quiz on Cleaning Sanitizing and Killing Bacteria

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Point of Use Natural Sanitizer - Ozone

point of use natural sanitizer
point of use natural sanitizer | Source

Separate Instructions for Cleaning and Sanitizing

The regulations for safety here in the United States are very thorough.

For instance, if a product is intended for use as both a cleaner and a sanitizer, the regulations mandate providing separate directions for use as a cleaner and sanitizer. Additionally, cleaning must be completed by a a potable water rinse, preceding the directions for use as a sanitizer with a "fresh solution".

These comprehensive guidelines help keep us safe and prevent illness by eliminating bacteria.

© 2010 Kelly Kline Burnett

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