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August Cartoon: 3 Tips for Preventing Chemical Cross-Contamination

Chemical Contamination Prevention Food Safety Cartoon

Cleaning chemicals are crucial for food safety because of their ability to sanitize. However, they need to be stored properly to prevent any chemical hazards from contaminating food. If stored improperly, chemicals could drip or spray onto the food you prepare and you can injure or sicken your customers.

What is the best way to store your chemicals?

Remember this golden rule: separate your food from your chemicals!

The following three storage tips will help you store your sanitizing chemicals safely.

1. Use a utility closet or designate a closet for chemicals

If your foodservice facility has a utility closet, be sure to store your chemicals there. If your facility doesn’t have a dedicated utility closet, find another area that won’t contaminate your food, equipment, or food-contact surfaces. Never store any food, equipment, or any other food-contact surfaces in the same closet as chemicals.

Some common cleaning chemicals that you may store in your facility include sanitizers like iodine, chlorine, and quaternary ammonium (quats). It may seem more convenient to store these chemicals where they will be used, like in the food preparation areas, but it’s more important to keep your food safe by storing them in a separate area.

2. Label chemicals clearly

When storing chemicals in your facility, you should clearly label them so you don’t mistake them for something else. Many chemicals can look like food, so it’s important to display their labels prominently and keep them away from food in order to prevent cross-contamination. 

You may choose to buy chemicals in bulk and then distribute them into smaller containers. If you do this, make sure to clearly label each working container.

3. Handle pest prevention chemicals carefully

Sometimes chemicals are required to prevent or evict pests from your establishment. If you use these, work with a pest control operator (PCO) to ensure you use the proper chemicals that are safe to use around food. You should also take precautions to keep your food, equipment, utensils, and other food-contact surfaces safe from contamination.

For example, you should cover or store equipment, utensils, and food before using pest control chemicals.

Just like sanitizers, you should store pest control chemicals away from food and equipment, and clearly label them.

If you’re ever unsure about what a chemical could be, contact your waste management company for instructions on how to properly dispose of it.

Remember to use and store your chemicals correctly! To learn more about food hazards and get other food safety tips, check out our food safety blog.

— Janilyn Hutchings

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