In an industry where strict hygiene standards are a legal requirement, opportunities for improved cleaning processes can deliver major business benefits for some food sectors.
One opportunity that has seen increasing innovation and adoption after the Covid-19 pandemic is pre-saturated disinfectant wipes.
Their soaring level of demand since 2020 has driven product development towards more effective formulations, materials and packaging that’s simple to use.
So whether you process, prepare or serve food, these advances are an opportunity to improve hygiene standards whilst benefiting from procurement and productivity savings.
Types of Food Industry Cleaning Wipes
Like some other types of industrial wipe, food hygiene wet wipes are categorised by the level of cleaning they are designed to achieve. These levels are dictated by the strength of the active ingredient they are pre-saturated with:
Its purpose is to reduce the number of germs to safe levels rather than removing all pathogens completely from a surface.
Sanitising wipes are pre-saturated with antibacterial cleaning solutions such as Isopropyl Alcohol and are best suited to wiping down high touch areas that don’t have direct food contact like tables, trays and counters.
Disinfection provides a more powerful action against a wider range of bacteria, viruses, fungi and yeasts.
Standard disinfectant wipes: are pre-saturated with a stronger cleaning agent such as broad-spectrum Quaternary Ammonium Compounds (QUATs), Isopropyl Alcohol or Peracetic Acid.
These products are best used front of house and not on food contact surfaces such as worktops, mixing equipment or kitchen utensils.
Food safe disinfectant wipes: are a specialised type of wet wipe designed for use on objects and surfaces that come into direct or indirect contact with processed or unprocessed foods.
They come pre-saturated with a food grade disinfecting solution that will not taint or contaminate ingredients. The wipe material is typically coloured blue, so it can be easily seen and removed if dropped during processing.
To achieve a food safe standard, wipes must meet strict testing standards such as BS EN 1276, BS EN 13697 and (EC) 396/2005. These tests measure the efficacy and residue levels of disinfectants intended for use in food areas.
Sterilisation is the strongest form of cleaning and kills bacterial, viruses, fungi, yeast and spores.
Sterilizing wipes are most often used in medical environments and are not suitable for food contact surfaces.
Meeting Food Hygiene and Safety Standards
The Food Standards Agency specifically recommends using food-safe disinfectants and cleaning products to prevent the spread of harmful bacteria and other pathogens that can cause food poisoning illnesses.
Wipes designed for the industry are just as effective as regular versions, but use cleaning solutions that meet strict food safe standards.
By adopting wipe based cleaning practices, food businesses can ensure compliance with FSA regulations and industry specific standards such as ISO 22000.
Disinfectant Wipes vs Cloths and Sprays
All cleaning products should be judged by their ability to cost effectively maintain food hygiene and safety standards without affecting the customer experience.
Given the diverse challenges faced by food businesses, finding the right balance can be difficult. Traditionally, this has been tackled using a combination of cleaning cloths and sprays.
While that might sometimes be a cost-effective solution, it can be an unreliable way to maintain consistent cleaning standards in busy kitchen or service environments.
To underline this, a study published in the American Journal of Infection Control found that disinfectant wipes were more effective at reducing contamination compared to separate solutions.
Both products have their pros and cons. But overall, adopting wipe cleaning offers a real opportunity to meet your hygiene obligations whilst making processes easier for staff and less intrusive for customers.
Pros and Cons of Using Cloths and Disinfectant Sprays
|Can cover large surfaces quickly||Inconsistent cleaning if not used correctly|
|Cost-effective in the long run||Require washing and sanitizing after each use|
|Easily accessible and widely available||Can spread bacteria if not changed frequently enough|
|Can be washed and reused multiple times||Can lead to overuse and waste|
|Can be more environmentally friendly than wipes||May cause wet hands and bad odour|
Pros and Cons of Using Pre-Saturated Disinfectant Wipes
|Easy to use and convenient with nothing to mix or spill||May not cover large surfaces as quickly|
|Can be used on various surfaces||Can dry out quickly if not stored properly|
|Effective microorganism kill rate with no additional cleaning or sanitizing required||May not be as cost-effective as cloths and sprays in the long run|
|Can be more hygienic than cloths if disposed of after each use||May lead to overuse and waste if not used correctly|
|More professional appearance with no bad odours or chemicals sprayed around customers||May not be environmentally friendly if not disposed of properly|
|100% food surface safe (food safe wipes)|
What Are the Best Disinfectant Wipes for Food Businesses?
Choosing the best wipes to use in food areas depends on the type of activities you carry out there
- Food safe disinfectant wipes
- Probe wipes
- Colour coded wipes
If you process raw ingredients such as meats and fish, you’ll use a lot of industrial-sized equipment like mixers, cutters and utensils. These objects and work surfaces can be at risk of cross-contamination from bacteria like E.coli and MRSA.
While larger blue coloured, food safe disinfectant wipes are best suited for these surfaces and objects, smaller processing equipment like probe thermometers can be cleaned with specially designed probe wipes.
Being smaller and saturated with food safe biocide solutions, they offer a reliable way to kill germs and common food-borne pathogens quickly with less waste.
In high-use processing environments, it’s also important to look for wipes with reliable packaging that’s easy to reseal. Incorrect resealing of tubs or packets can allow disinfectant solutions to evaporate, reducing their effect.
The bigger, heavy-duty 1500 wipe tubs are ideal for busy processing settings where a continuous workflow and easy grab-and-use functionality are essential.
A final consideration for high risk areas dealing with raw ingredients is colour coded packaging. Colour-coding makes it easier to segregate and distinguish which products should be used for which areas.
- Food safe disinfectant wipes
- Probe wipes
- Colour coded wipes
Cross contamination is still a risk for food preparation areas like café’s, restaurants and takeaways. Wipes that are strong enough to disinfect against common foodborne pathogens whilst being safe for food surfaces should be a priority.
Much like processing areas, this can largely be achieved with blue coloured food safe wipes, as similar equipment is often used but on a smaller scale.
Due to the lower volume of wipes needed, smaller 150–200 sheet tubs can be more practical to minimise the space required and the risk of evaporation.
- Food safe disinfectant wipes
- Probe wipes
- Colour coded food safe wipes
- Catering wipes
Catering environments have the potential to bridge all three processing, preparation and service activities.
Such a range of hygiene demands requires versatile, portable and easy to use cleaning products. For processing or preparation areas, the food safe wipes already mentioned are most appropriate.
For service areas, catering wipes are the perfect solution offering a good combination of cleaning, disinfection and durability. They’re also gentle on a wide range of surfaces common to front of house environments like tables, seating, trays and worktops.
Having them close to hand in a simple grab-and-use packet can ensure an uninterrupted workflow which saves time for staff and can help speed up customer turnover in fast-paced settings like cafes, bars and restaurants.
Do’s and Don’ts of Using Disinfecting Wipes in Food Hygiene Environments
Pre-saturated wipes offer superior cleaning advantages for food hygiene environments when best practices are followed.
Here are some simple do’s and don’ts that should form part of staff training:
- Always read and follow the instructions on the packaging before use.
- Use the appropriate type of wipes for the task at hand (e.g., disinfecting wipes for high-touch surfaces, food safe versions for contact surfaces).
- Use a fresh wipe for each cleaning task to minimise the chances of cross-contamination.
- Follow an effective wiping technique starting from the cleanest area to the most soiled.
- Dispose of used wipes properly and in accordance with your facility’s waste management policy.
- Reseal open packaging and store in a cool, dry place to avoid evaporation or heat damage.
- Don’t use wipes on surfaces that are not approved for contact with food.
- Don’t reuse a wipe on multiple surfaces or for multiple cleaning tasks.
- Don’t use wiping as a substitute for handwashing or proper cleaning and sanitation procedures.
- Don’t flush a wipe down the toilet or dispose of them improperly.
- Don’t use past their expiration date or recommended usage time frame.
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Are disinfectant wipes food safe?
Standard disinfectant wipes are not suitable for use on food contact surfaces and food-safe alternatives should be used instead.
Are alcohol wipes food safe?
Alcohol wipes are not suitable for objects or surfaces that have direct or indirect contact with food. Only products that are marked as ‘food-safe’ should be used in those areas.
What disinfectant is safe for food surfaces?
Only disinfectants that are marked as ‘food-safe’ are approved for contact surfaces as they don’t contain any QUAT solutions or other chemicals that can taint or contaminate food.
Is disinfectant spray better than wipes?
It depends on the specific use case. Sprays can pose a risk of inconsistent application, while pre-saturated wipes are designed and tested to deposit enough disinfectant solution to effectively kill the targeted microorganisms.
They can also provide a time-saving advantage as they eliminate the need for managing separate cleaning cloths and sprays.
Personalised Food Wipe Advice
While this article looks at many of the common applications for disinfectant wipes in food environments, it can’t cover them all.
If you would find it helpful to chat about your specific workplace hygiene challenges and how wipes might provide greater efficiencies with lower costs, feel free to contact us without obligation on 0114 269 7107 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
You can also browse our current range of food area cleaning products, many of which have bulk discounts available.