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Ftag of the Week – F812 Food Procurement, Store/Prepare/Serve – Sanitary (Pt 3)

If you ever wondered why F812 is always one of the most frequently cited deficiencies, reading CMSCG’s Ftag of the Week posts that review the extensive guidance for this regulation should give you a pretty good idea about exactly how many different areas are being looked at under this Ftag. In Part 1, we reviewed the regulation with regard to procurement and storage. In Part 2, we reviewed the requirements for safe food preparation, thawing, cooking, cooling, reheating and making ice. In this post, we will look at cleaning and sanitization.

Cleaning and Sanitization

The regulation at F812 states that improper washing and sanitizing of equipment as well as not protecting equipment from contamination can create a potential for foodborne outbreaks. As such, this is a highly cited area on survey.

Staff can take steps to avoid cross-contamination by cleaning and sanitizing work surfaces between uses, and storing towels/cloths used for wiping surfaces in sanitizing solution between uses. Ice machines should be kept clean, including the internal components of the equipment, by draining, cleaning and sanitizing as needed in accordance with manufacturers’ specifications. Any items used for storage or transportation of ice also need to be routinely cleaned, particularly before use or when visibly soiled.

Cleaning Fixed Equipment

Fixed equipment that cannot be immersed in water easily, such as mixers or slicers, must be cleaned by:

  • Washing and sanitizing the removable parts and cleaning non-removable parts with detergent and hot water. These should then be rinsed, air-dried and sprayed with sanitizing solution.
  • Following that, the equipment should be reassembled and any food contact surfaces that may have become contaminated during the assembly process should be re-sanitized.

Wiping cloths for service areas should be cleaned and dried or placed in chemical sanitizing solution that is an appropriate concentration.

Manual Washing and Sanitizing

The Interpretive Guidance (IG) outlines the process that is usually used when manual washing and sanitizing will be used:

  • After food particles have been scraped off, the item should be washed using hot water and detergent
  • All soap residue should be removed by rinsing with hot water
  • The item should be sanitized with either hot water or a chemical solution for the effective contact time
  • Dishes and utensils must be sanitized by immersion via one of two methods:
    • Immersion in hot water that is at least 171 degrees F in temperature or higher for 30 seconds
    • Immersion in a chemical sanitizing solution that is used according to the specific manufacturer’s instructions.

The sanitization process is where many facilities fall short or run into issues. The IG states that the chemical solution must be maintained at the correct concentration, be periodically tested to ensure the concentration is correct, and that the contact time is based on manufacturer’s guidelines. It further notes that facilities must have available the appropriate type of testing equipment to ensure that there is a sufficient concentration of sanitizing solution. Additionally, utilizing the wrong test strips will yield inaccurate results, so facilities need to ensure that staff have the appropriate testing strips.

It is also important to remember that too high of a concentration of sanitizing solution can be potentially hazardous and can be a chemical contaminant to food.

Chemical Contamination

The regulatory guidance at F812 notes that the most common chemicals that can be found in a food system are the cleansing agents used by staff, as well as insecticides. These chemicals, such as soaps or oven cleaners, that are routinely used by staff can potentially contaminate food. It is important to ensure that cleaning products and cleaning supplies are clearly labeled and stored separately from food items to ensure that they are not mistaken for ingredients during food preparation and added to food.

Machine Washing and Sanitization

The other method of cleaning equipment and utensils is by machine washing and sanitizing. Dishwashing machines rely on either heat or chemicals for sanitization purposes, so it is essential to ensure that these machines are reaching the appropriate temperatures for heat sanitization and that chemical sanitizing solutions are maintained at the correct concentrations. Testing for chemical sanitizing solutions, per the IG, must occur at least once per shift and for the effective contact time to ensure that the solutions is at the appropriate concentration. Staff need to have the appropriate testing materials available and know what the manufacturers’ instructions are for the machine.

The recommended guidelines for heating sanitization are:

  • Washing – 150-165 degrees F
  • Final Rinse – 180 degrees F

The recommended guidelines for chemical sanitization, which use a low temperature dishwasher, are:

  • Wash – 120 degrees F
  • Final Rinse – 50 parts per million hypochlorite on dish surface in final rinse

Don’t forget that while equipment can become contaminated by contact with raw food items, or through improper sanitization, equipment can also become contaminated through poor personal hygiene of employees. In our next Ftag of the Week for F812, we will discuss hygiene and infection control requirements for food service staff in addition to food service and distribution.

The list of potential issues that can be cited, as you can see goes on and on and on! A savvy Food Service Director is familiar with the regulation and knows how to monitor staff’s job performance in the kitchen in performing their duties as well as maintaining equipment, etc. At the risk of sounding like a broken record, you need to get out Form CMS-20055 (Kitchen Observation) and use it as part of your QAPI Program as well as think about your Facility Assessment and competencies for the Kitchen/Food Services staff.

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