How to Properly Sanitize Counter Tops: Preventing Food Borne Illness Starts in the Kitchen
After handling food, it is important to make sure countertops are thoroughly sanitized, especially if you were preparing raw meats or items possibly containing high amounts of bacteria like raw sprouts or uncooked eggs.
Proper sanitation is key to lowering your risks of contaminating the food with potentially harmful foodborne pathogens like Salmonella and E. coli.
Because complete sterilization is difficult to obtain, the goal is to reduce the number of disease causing pathogens by 99.99 percent. Sanitizing is the process of reducing microbial counts on a surface to a safe level. Sanitation methods include heat, radiation, and chemicals like bleach.
The first step in cleaning your surfaces is choosing safe products for the job. Not all chemicals are safe for food-contact surfaces, so it is important to avoid using products like glass cleaners, tile, and metal cleaners. Choose cleaners that specifically claim they are safe for food-contact surfaces; for example, water diluted with sodium hypochlorite is an effective disinfectant for counters and cutting boards.
The next step is removing residues like grease or food particles, for these substances can easily harbor dormant bacteria known as spores. Detergents (dish soap) have surfactants which minimize surface tensions between many grimy particles and food-contact surfaces. Reducing tension helps the detergent lift away pathogen harboring grime. But, you may need to apply some good ol’ elbow grease to really get the job done.
After removing residual particles of food and grease, use a food-surface sanitizer like diluted bleach to clean your countertops. For Countertops, dilute ½ cup of concentrated bleach (like Clorox) with a gallon of water. For items like cutting boards, dilute 2 teaspoons of beach with water and soak for 2 minutes and rinse thoroughly.