Foodborne illness is no joke. In fact, there are three separate government agencies that handle the guidelines for cleaning procedures, cooking procedures, and health guidelines: the Center for Disease Control (CDC), Food and Drug Administration (FDA), and the Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS).
These three agencies work together to:
- Ensure our food supply is safely handled as well as labeled and packaged correctly
- Gather information about foodborne illness and how to avoid it
- Investigate outbreaks of illnesses like E. Coli
- Create policies and procedures to keep food preparation safe from manufacturer to consumer
While three different agencies can seem like overkill, think about all the different steps and stages your food goes through before it ends up on your plate. Everything these agencies do all lead back to making sure that food, and the surfaces it comes into contact with before it’s cooked, isn’t a cause for us getting sick.
While we can generally dine out with the peace of mind that the restaurant we’re in is all up to code and follows safe food prep, we may not be so confident when we’re cooking at home that we’re correctly following all the guidelines for safe food handling and clean-up, especially when it comes to what we should be sanitizing when we’re done handling raw foods.
If you’ve prepared food on a table top or counter, you need to take certain measures to sanitize those surfaces to remove potentially harmful bacteria that lives in raw ingredients. Don’t worry, properly cooking the food should kill any bacteria in it, but we can’t exactly toss the countertop into the oven to get to temp.
For a little crash course on how to get your surfaces clean after you’ve prepped your meal, read on.
How to Sanitize a Table: 4 Easy Steps
When you’ve finished with the prep for that delicious meal, it’s time for clean-up, and that includes cleaning up the gunk you can’t see.
You can easily clean and sanitize a table or counter top in just four easy steps:
- Clean up all food scraps, crumbs, utensils, and anything else sitting on the surface. Toss (or compost) any remaining scraps; any plates, knives, cutting boards, or other food prep tools will need to be sanitized separately, preferably in the dishwasher where it can get blasted with hot water.
- Wipe down the surface of the table or counter with a mild dish soap and a clean paper towel. The surface needs to be cleaned before it can be sanitized. If the surface is dirty or greasy, the sanitizer might not be able to work as well as it could otherwise.
- Sanitize the surface. Spray the sanitizer on the surface and use a clean paper towel to spread the solution. Avoid using a cleaning cloth, as it can absorb the sanitizing agent instead of working to spread it.
You could use a disinfectant, but pay special attention to the label to make sure it’s not too harsh that it will damage your food prep surface. For instance, you would never want to use a bleach-based disinfectant on a wood table as the bleach could permanently damage it.
- Allow to air dry. One of the biggest mistakes made when sanitizing surfaces is not giving the sanitizer enough time to air dry. Allowing time for the surface to thoroughly dry ensures the sanitizing product has had time to actually work, so resist the urge to put that centerpiece back on the table or get started on dessert prep.
Are All Sanitizing Agents the Same?
When you choose a sanitizing agent for your home, you have a lot to consider. Ideally, you want something strong enough to kill foodborne bacteria but nothing too harsh that will either damage your prep surface or spoil everyone’s appetite from the fumes.
Not all sanitizing agents are created equally. Even though a product claims that it eliminates germs and bacteria, it may not eliminate foodborne bacteria, which are just a little more resilient than your every germ. Read the product label to double check that your cleaner can knock out E. coli, salmonella, and the like.
Some of the most popular sanitizing agents are:
- Bleach. Bleach is the most widely used disinfecting and sanitizing agent because it is effective in killing germs and bacteria. You never want to use bleach on a table without diluting it. The CDC has guidelines on how to make your own diluted bleach mixture.
- Alcohol. Alcohol is effective in sanitizing surfaces provided it is used in a 70% or higher concentration of either isopropyl or ethyl alcohol.
- Thymol. Thymol is a plant-based sanitizer that is popularly used in household cleaning products; it’s gaining more popularity with the move toward more natural products.
Can You Use Hand Sanitizer to Sanitize a Table?
What if you’re in a pinch and you need to sanitize something fast, but don’t have access to your usual sanitizer? If you’ve got a bottle of hand sanitizer spray, you might just be in luck.
In order for hand sanitizer to be effective in sanitizing your hands, it must contain a concentration of isopropyl alcohol that is 60% or higher.
At 70% alcohol, a hand sanitizer can also be used to clean a surface. Cha-ching!
So, if you’ve done some food prep and you don’t have your regular kitchen sanitizers available, you can spray that hand sanitizer right onto the table and wipe the surface clean.
Where Can You Buy Hand Sanitizer?
Gone are the days you’ll have to go from store to store, wondering where you’ll be able to find hand sanitizer next. Sanitizer.com exists to put an end to two bad practices that were spawned by the global COVID-19 pandemic:
- Consumer hoarding. We aren’t blaming the consumers. When demand is high and supply is short, people panic and grab as much as they can in fear of not having enough. The problem is, hoarding doesn’t leave enough product for everyone else.
- Price gouging. Manufacturers were blatantly unethical with their consumers, and there’s no better testament to this than the skyrocketed hand sanitizer prices during times of high demand.
We didn’t like these practices and set out to find a way to fix them.
One fix is through our monthly subscription plan, where you get access to as much hand sanitizer as you need, without the need to hoard, because right as you begin to run low, we ship you more. Hand sanitizer for everyone!
We also keep our prices low and fair, and we will never raise them due to increased demand. Period. Price gouging makes essential products inaccessible to most people, and let’s be honest, it’s just plain wrong.
The Sanitizer.com marketplace offers hand sanitizers that are 80% isopropyl alcohol, with ours in particular only containing three other ingredients; hydrogen peroxide, glycerin (so your hands can be clean and soft), and purified water.
Our sanitizers are perfect for sanitizing hands, tables, counters, smartphones, tablets, and anything else that you touch during the day, so come on over and get yourself a bottle (or two), and let’s make the world a cleaner place one spritz at a time.