What does food safe actually mean?

food safe chemicals

Yesterday, I was preparing a large pot of Minestrone Soup and this got me thinking about what food safe actually means?  I chopped all the vegetables on a chopping board, and popped them  in the pot.  Afterwards; as usual, I tidied up, put the peelings in the compost bin and sprayed down the work top with the closest sanitiser.  A quick glance at this sanitiser told me that this sanitiser wasn't food safe; and the next thing on my to do list was to prepare the chicken for BBQ chicken we were having for dinner that night. 



My time here at Astral Hygiene has taught me what food safe means, how it is different to food grade, and what are safe practices to follow to avoid cross contamination.  In this instance, with this sanitiser, I actually had to change me practices in prepping this chicken to ensure that cross contamination didn't occur.  So what was wrong with this sanitiser?

This sanitiser had found its way in to my house, and to be fair there is nothing wrong with this sanitiser for a domestic environment, but for a catering environments, or preparing your chicken directly on your worktop this sanitiser is inappropriate for what I intended to do. 

Now, no guessing, but this is a big brand domestic sanitiser with a very high perfume, and because of this fact I knew instantly, that I couldn't spray it on the worktop, leave it for 30 seconds, wipe it off and slap my chicken down. Why? 

For a number of reasons, but the first is - it has a smell/high perfume.  Any sanitiser with a high perfume, or any perfume infact is unsuitable to be putting your raw ingredients (even vegetables) on to because the perfume may taint the taste of your food - so this makes this sanitiser NOT food safe. 

So the smell for me was the giveaway. Without even reading the small print at the back of the bottle, I could see a sticker on the front which says 'Kills 99.9% of bacteria and viruses including COVID 19 virus' - well should that not be enough to keep me safe? 

No! 

So this sticker at the front of the bottle is merely a claim, an unproven claim that hasn't been tested in a laboratory. Its has the same validity as me saying I can magic away bacteria and viruses... my claim is unproven in a laboratory too. 

In fact the 99.9% claim of bacteria and viral kill rate is also another giveaway that it doesn't hold any laboratory proven kill rate, becuause if it was proven in a lab, then the kill rate must be 99.9999% to obtain any accredditation at all.  Now I have blogged about this before, but just a reminder, to obtain an accredditation of bacteria kill rate of BS EN 1276, 99.9999% of bacteria must be dead... thats four 9's after the point, not 1 or 3, but a log reduction of 4 9's after the point .... hence 99.9999%. 

Same with viruses, to obtain the viral kill rate of BS EN 14476, the kill rate must be 99.9999% - again four nines after the point.  

If I was going to be prepping my chicken, meat or any food for that matter directly on my worktop, I'd want to be using a proven chemical, one that holds a BS EN standard, rather than one that just claims to kill bacteria and viruses.  

What does food grade mean?

In short, food grade means that the material is suitable to come into direct contact with food & food safe means that the food grade material and finished product is suitable for it’s intended use and will not create a food safety hazard.

The key difference here is regarding materials, and finished products.

Food grade typically refers to a material, and essentially states that the material doesn’t contain any toxins or dangerous substances. For something to be considered food grade, the material must be able to be cleaned effectively, and not allow any foreign particles to find their way into food. Generally, the surface should be smooth and free of any imperfections such as cracks, ridges or crevices, where bacteria could grow.

When this material is used to create a product, the situation changes slightly, and this is where food safe comes in. A product is said to be food safe when it is declared safe to use for the specific purpose for which it is designed. This includes considerations like the temperature that it will be used at, the ability to clean the product, and how long it will be in contact with food.

Hope this has been enlightening... you know where to find me if you need any advice! 

Anna


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