Tag Archive for 'Chemicals'

Kitchen Cleaners: Chemical Versus Natural

kitchenThere’s nothing people love inside of their homes more than a cosy, clean kitchen environment. Kitchens take a lot of work and upkeep for sanitary eating surfaces, clean eating utensils and most importantly, healthy foods.

When it comes down to what products to use when cleaning your kitchen, confusion follows as to whether natural cleaning products or chemical cleaning products are the safest ways to keep the kitchen spotless.

The Truth About Chemicals

Just because a product is called, ‘Natural’ doesn’t make it a true product consisting only from earth’s soil or even safe, for that matter. Some of the most natural things in life can actually be some of the world’s most toxic chemicals! Think about curare, snake venom and belladonna – totally natural yet totally deadly.

The same philosophy goes for commonly used household products such as pesticides, detergents and cleaning solutions that contain harmful chemicals. They clean great but are also very hazardous for you and your family’s health, not to mention the environment.

Formaldehyde is found as the top ingredient in some of the most popular kitchen cleaning products used to sanitise your kitchen. Remember high school Biology and what liquid the scientific animals used for dissection sat in? That’s right!

When formaldehyde is present in products that contain preservatives, the dangers become even more toxic when itdangerous-chemicals comes in direct contact with human parts of the body. This toxic ingredient commonly used in kitchen cleaners can cause irritation to the eyes, skin, lungs and throat which can also lead to human carcinogen.

Other ingredients found within kitchen cleaning solutions may contain cresol and phenol, which are corrosive in nature and may cause dizziness and diarrhoea in the user, not to mention, liver or kidney damage.

Something extremely important to remember when cleaning with toxic chemicals is to NEVER mix chlorine bleach with ammonia! What happens with this concoction is that the sodium hypochlorite present in the bleach releases chloramine gas may lead to asthmatic symptoms and other breathing related problems.

Because of all these dangerous and potential side effect, many people are swaying over to the more natural cleaning products, however, is the ‘natural’ label on these products actually natural or are they the same, synthetically manufactured materials?

Some people actually believe the natural products used to clean kitchens are safer to humans as well as the environment but the truth is that they could possibly be running the risk of food poisoning by not being able to thoroughly clean leftover bacteria in the kitchen. It then becomes an ongoing debacle – are toxic cleansers that rid of all bacteria safer than natural cleansers that leave traces of deadly bacteria behind?

This risky dilemma results in no completely positive answer either way. The underlying answer remains, at best, within the full knowledge on the cleaning products you use and common sense when using them.

To keep a safely disinfected kitchen in your home without using all of the harsh and hazardous chemicals, the best option is to look for kitchen cleaners that have natural antibacterial properties. The operative word is ANTIBACTERIAL and surprisingly, most people already have many of these all-natural cleaning products already in your kitchen!

How To Replace Harsh Chemical Disinfectants With Natural Ingredients

Many popular chemical cleaning products are popular because they come with labels that state their products kill kitchen bacteria by 99.9% on surfaces such as sinks, faucet handles and kitchen counters. Because there’s no scientific data to always back that up, what some companies forget to add to their labels is that they’re unsure whether or not these disinfectants reduce incidences of infection.

imagesThere are, however, many non-chemical disinfectant cleaning products and techniques found inside of your kitchen that can kill and prevent the growth of the bacteria in the kitchen effectively without harmful chemicals that are quite easy to use. While these ingredients alone might not clear off all of the bacteria in a single swipe, when combined with other safe, natural products, they can significantly reduce the disease-causing bacteria in your kitchen.

Take a look at these ordinary household products that can be used as natural disinfectants and tips when using them:

  • Ordinary household vinegar – Vinegar is a very effective cleaner that prevents the growth of bacteria. This is an excellent antibacterial kitchen cleanser, especially if you happen to have apple cider vinegar lying in your cupboards. If you don’t have any regular or apple cider vinegar, distilled white vinegar can also be used.
  • Lemon juice – Lemon juice is another fantastic and completely natural cleaning product that fights effective against bacteria. Keeping kitchen surfaces in an acidic environment makes it very difficult for the bacteria to grow.
  • Bacteria-free sponge and some muscle – Sponges are great scrubbers that help to disinfect your kitchen by cleaning away the food debris that bacteria thrive on. To keep your sponges disinfected, wet them down and place them in the microwave on high for one minute each.
  • Baking soda – Usually found in refrigerators as an odour eliminator, this natural abrasive kitchen cleaner is great for removing baked-on dirt and other soils that are hard to remove. It absorbs odours in porous surfaces such as wood, carpeting or textiles.
  • Borax – This common household product is another natural cleaning powder, much like baking soda (but stronger) that acts as a kitchen disinfectant and stain remover. Borax is also used to kill mould and mildew spores while removing their stains making it great for mopping floors.
  • Tea tree oil – This natural, essential concentrated oil from the tea tree works as a natural disinfectant, removing mould and mildew while also working to remove build-up from dirty kitchen surfaces. It103059380’s completely nontoxic and perhaps a bit more expensive than other natural cleaning products but well worth the aromatic fragrance that will freshen up areas as you clean them.

While the perfectly safe kitchen cleaning formula hasn’t yet been created, taking these naturally, simple steps will make your kitchen a much cleaner, safer place for cooking and eating!

Disinfectants And Sanitisers: What’s the diff?

Disinfectants(1)When setting out to clean the kitchen, many people grab the closest cleaning agent without understanding the difference between disinfectants and sanitisers or knowing which one is used for the mess that needs to be wiped up.

The difference between the two is easiest enough to understand but sometimes tricky to remember. To help distinguish the two, just remember to keep it simple: Disinfectants STOP bacteria and sanitisers SLOW down bacteria.

The scientific reason behind the difference of disinfectants and sanitisers is the dilution. Disinfectants must have higher capability for killing pathogenic bacteria compared to that of a sanitiser.  According to EPA requirements a disinfectant must kill 99.99% or more of specified bacteria whereas sanitisers must kill at least 99.99% of three specified bacteria within a specified time period.

Disinfectants stop the growth of microorganisms (bacteria such as fungi, bacteria and viruses) on non-living surfaces in its place. The most powerful factor of disinfectants is the fact that it can actually kill these microorganisms when used properly and effectively! Because disinfectants are chemical agents that killing bacteria and also slow their return down, it’s best used for cleaning kitchen surfaces that meat, fish, poultry and eggs have been prepared on.

Sanitisers reduce the amount of microorganisms to a safe level but cannot kill them since they don’t contain that killer chemical agent that disinfectant does. This doesn’t mean that sanitisers aren’t effective or a great cleaning agent; instead, it’s better used for regular kitchen surfaces around the kitchen that raw poultry or other food-poisoning bacteria haven’t been exposed to.

In order to get the maximum effect out of sanitisers, it’s extremely important to first scrub down the surface with regular soap and hot water, dish detergents, ammonia-based cleaners and all-purpose cleaners.

Popular Types Of Disinfectants

Alcohol – Alcohol solutions are a base ingredient for many other disinfectants and great for disinfecting skin and decontaminating surfaces.  Alcohol is an excellent pathogen destroyer but it must be left in contact with surfaces for atdesinf2004eng least 20 minutes to be effective.

Aldehydes – All forms of aldehydes have different ways of working to disinfect surface areas as well as a wide range of germicidal activity that can be highly toxic to humans and animals.  It should only be used as a last resort and in a well ventilated area.

Ammonia – Ammonia is one of the most effective and fast working disinfecting products out there but can be extremely dangerous to the skin and the respiratory tract. This should NEVER be mixed with bleach since it will produce toxic fumes and can cause severe and sometimes fatal injuries.

Chlorhexidine – Because this agent isn’t irritating to skin, it’s a popular kitchen cleaner and is used for general surfaces and also commonly used for cleaning skin wounds.

Chlorine – Also known as bleach, chlorine is harsh but very effective. If used in an environment that is too hot, bleach can create toxic fumes, much like ammonia. In order to bleach kitchen surfaces in the safest and most effective way, make sure the temperature remains at least 65 degrees Fahrenheit.

Popular Types Of Sanitisers

IodophorAcidic iodine-based sanitisers have a universal killing effect on all types of microbes but since the amount of active ingredients to achieve the same killing power as a disinfectant is lower in iodophors, the killing time is reduced.

Hypochlorites – At regular levels, hypochorites aren’t poisonous to the human body, yet, contain powerful germicides that can control a wide range of microbes. The downside is that it does contain a short shelf-life and can be corrosive on some metals or give off chlorine gas when mixed with acids.

litchen-cleaning-kleanway-550x300There are some multi-purpose cleaners now available that work as a sanitiser to slow bacteria down if left on the surface for a short period of time and then a bacteria-killing disinfectant if left on the surface for an extended amount of time. Regardless, always remember to first check your label to distinguish the two and read the directions for proper usage!

Now that you understand the difference between using disinfectants and sanitisers when cleaning a kitchen, grab that bottle of cleaner and scrub away to keep kitchens sparkly and everyone healthy!

FSANZ warns against consuming raw apricot kernels.

On the 4th November 2011 Food Standards Australia New Zealand, the Government body responsible for Food Safety guidelines and legislation issued warnings against consuming raw apricot kernels. The raw kernels are often used as a cancer treatment or preventative cancer supplement.

The following information has been reproduced with permission of FSANZ:

“Food Standards Australia New Zealand Chief Executive Officer Steve McCutcheon today warned consumers against eating raw apricot kernels following the discovery of high levels of a naturally occurring toxin in some products available in Australia.

There are different types of apricot kernels, some of which contain high levels of the toxin that can release cyanide into the body when eaten. Adults eating as few as four of these kernels a day could become very ill – children should not eat any.

Testing of a number of raw apricot kernels by state and territory health authorities found they contained high levels of the toxin that can release hydrocyanic acid, a cyanide compound, in the gut. These products are currently being investigated and a recall is occurring. The products have been sold nationally on-line and at some health food stores.

While some raw apricot kernels are promoted as an alternative therapy for cancer treatment, the Cancer Council of Australia has published a position statement that cautions consumers about using alternative therapies, including laetrile (apricot kernels).

If you have recently purchased the recalled raw apricot kernels you are advised not to eat them. Return the product to point of sale for a refund or dispose of it safely out of the reach of children and pets. More information (including individual state health authorities) about this recall is available on the Food Standards Australia New Zealand website.

Anyone who has eaten these products and is concerned about their health should seek medical advice.

Apricot Kernels are also sometimes used to assist jams to thicken, however FSANZ has indicated that fresh and dried apricots, apricot juice and jam are not affected.

Kitchen Bacteria

salmonella-bacteria-food-largeWhen people get a bacterial infection, antibiotics are used to kill harmful bacteria that are safe to the human body. For other bacteria found within food or contaminated surfaces and utensils, different methods, such as heat, UV radiation and chemicals are used to effectively control bacteria.

Methods used to kill bacteria and control it from spreading is known as microbial control which consists of three general categories:

  • Physical – heat, freeze-drying, ultraviolet radiation and filtration
  • Chemical – chemical agents like disinfectants Lysol or Clorox, destroy most vegetative cells
  • Chemotherapeutic – antibiotics used to treat patients diagnosed with an infectious disease

The most commonly known bacteria often found in the kitchen is called Salmonella. Salmonella bacteria are found inseparate158 raw meat, especially raw poultry eggs, unprocessed milk and surprisingly, chocolate! If consumed, these bacteria can cause many not-so-good sicknesses, otherwise known as, food borne illnesses. With over 2,000 different strains of Salmonella, all forms can result in unpleasant to serious symptoms of food poisoning if it’s not prevented beforehand.

Cutting down on the amount of Salmonella poisoning that enters the kitchen or gets spread across the countertops can be easily managed just by following a few simple steps:

  • Cook raw meat thoroughly to the proper temperature
  • Properly refrigerate and freeze food
  • Always thaw food in the refrigerator and never leave sitting out at room temperature
  • Separate raw meat and fish to keep them from touching each other or other food when shopping and storing
  • Keep cutting boards for raw meat and other food separate and stored in a different location so that you don’t mix up the cutting boards
  • Wash hands, utensils and kitchen surfaces thoroughly with hot, soapy water as soon as you’re finished touching raw meat to prevent bacteria from spreading

Having a clean kitchen is extremely important, whether it’s in the home or in a fine dining restaurant, it’s inevitable that raw meat will end up on kitchen counters, sinks and storage areas before getting cooked. Because of this, the safest and most effective methods of cleaning are needed to keep these kitchens cooking!

Disinfectants are one of the most popular AND most important chemicals used in kitchens because of the compound it Chef Cleaning Countercontains that destroys or inhibits the growth of bacteria. When disinfectants are applied to countertops, sinks, trashcans or other areas, its chemical reactions completely wipe out those little microbes.

Sterilisation is obviously the best way to sanitise anything but when talking about ingesting food, disinfectant is less extreme and much less likely to endanger people, pets and plants when applied the right way.

Different disinfectants do work differently than each other with some holding the potential to kill bacteria and others, to simply stunt its growth. That’s why it’s extremely important to know which type of disinfectant you’re buying before bringing it into your kitchen

While there are several types of these disinfectants out on the market, there are two basic types that most people are familiar with: Typical disinfectant and inhibitors. The difference between these two types is that your typical disinfectant stops the growth of bacteria by killing them and your inhibitors only prevent bacteria growth.

Much like taking antibiotics for too long can become ineffective to your immune system, disinfectants can also become less effective after prolonged use. Sometimes, a few bacteria escape the cleaning process and produce new populations resistant to the specific disinfectant.

cleaning-kitchenThese little fugitives can then develop altered genetic structure that allows it to survive additional antibiotic treatments which delves into a whole deal of science that only specialised scientists can fully understand!

The bottom line is, know your kitchen disinfectants and even more importantly, know how to use them because this will make ALL of the difference between delicious, healthy food and sickening, food poisoned food!

Chemical Cleaning Mistakes To Avoid

Do you make these mistakes in your facility?

That’s right, chemicals can kill! I am a qualified chef, food technologist and food safety auditor and if you knew what some food businesses were doing behind closed doors, I am sure it would shock you.
  • What do you know about your cleaning chemicals?
  • How safe are they?
  • Is price the best way decide on which chemical to use?
  • What should my chemical supplier be telling me?
I have just finished a food safety audit on a child care center. The center was trying to do the right thing by the environment and had purchased cleaning chemicals in good faith from a supplier who made claims about their chemicals containing natural ingredients and being safer for the environment. Now I am all for making the world a greener place and I try to be as energy conscious as I can, however this is what I found:
  • The chemicals came in flat pack bags, that reduced space during transport and storage and were intended to be diluted by the end user of the product prior to use. There were two labels for the same product (sanitiser), which contradicted each other (it meant that one product when diluted was 100 times more concentrated than the other (remember these chemicals are coming in contact with food contact surfaces)
  • All of the labels stated that chemicals should be diluted into a 5 litre container, apart from one, that needed to be diluted into a 20 litre container. The company only provided a 5 litre container in which to dilute the product (what do you do with an open bag of cleaning chemical???)
  • The food surface sanitiser and window cleaner were both the same colour.
  • The label of the sanitiser indicated that the product should be blue (when diluted the chemical was red). It was later discovered that the person responsible for mixing the chemicals, decided one day to change the colour – it should have been blue.
  • The chemical that should have been red was a degreaser
  • The material safety data sheet for the detergent indicated that the chemical should be green. The chemical was yellow.

Cleaning chemicals are vital in providing a safe food working environment, however they are also very dangerous if not used properly. I have three very simple rules for the storage of chemicals in food businesses:

  1. Chemicals must be clearly labelled
  2. Chemicals must be stored away from food storage and preparation areas
  3. Chemicals must not be stored in the same containers as food

Your chemical supplier should provide you with a Material Safety Data Sheet (MSDS) the first time that they supply you with chemicals. The MSDS should contain:

  • Name of chemical
  • The name and contact details of the supplier
  • The date of issue of the MSDS
  • The colour of the chemical
  • The intended use
  • Dilution factors (if relevant)
  • First aid information
  • Personal protective equipment required for using the chemical
  • How to store the chemical
  • The composition of the chemical (active ingredients etc.)

These MSDS should be stored and be available wherever chemicals are used and stored. You should check to ensure your supplier is providing this information for you.

Some cleaning chemicals are incredibly dangerous and you need to make sure that you are using the chemical for it’s intended purpose. Often I see businesses that base their decision purely on price. If you are making this decision, you need to make sure you are comparing “apples with apples”. You need to check:

  • The dilution factor
  • What is included in the price. Good chemical companies will provide bottles, labels, training, posters etc. at no additional cost
  • The size of the containers. I am aware of at least two chemical suppliers who no longer sell chemicals in the large 25 litre bottles due to OHS requirements. All of their chemicals are sold in 5 litre and 1 litre bottles.

In my travels, these are some examples of poor decision making that I have seen:

  • One business changed chemical companies because the cost of the 25 litre bottle was $10 cheaper (20%), however the dilution factor of the cheaper bottle was 50ml per 10 litres of water, instead of 10ml per 10 litres. So they save 20%, but needed to use 500% more!!
  • One business purchased a sanitiser that was intended for an automatic dispenser and foaming machine, but was mixing it by hand. The dilution factor was 1:440. This meant that the business need just over 2ml per litre of water. How long will it take to use a 5 litre bottle at 2ml per litre. How hard is it to measure 2ml?
  • Chemicals stored in cordial bottles, tomato sauce bottles, measuring jugs, water bottles, stainless steel bowls, takeaway containers, Milo tins and food storage containers.
  • Chemicals (in a warehouse) stored in direct contact with bags of flour
  • Chemicals (in a hospital) stored in the pantries with biscuits, tea bags etc.
  • Chemicals (in a fresh chicken shop in a market) stored in the cool room (as they didn’t have room in processing area
  • A dishwasher that was not connected to chemicals at all
  • A meat slicer being “sanitised” with a caustic soda based window cleaner (even though they were clearly labelled and colour coded)
  • A disinfectant (that should be used in toilets) being used as a sanitiser on a production bench used for making mass amounts of sandwiches.

So how about you? What chemical catastrophes have you seen? Do you have any safe tips for the use of cleaning chemicals in food businesses?

What ever you, make sure that you…

Eat well. Eat safe!

Gavin