What Does A Sanitizer Test Kit Measure? The sanitizer test kit measures the correctness of your sanitizer agents pH, strength and temperature to ensure equipment is sanitized effectively.
It is important to sanitize your restaurant’s dishes in addition to washing them. The U.S. Food Code defines sanitization as any heating or chemically induced method used to reduce the number of microorganisms on a surface by 99.999 percent. This sanitizing step can be completed with chemicals or hot water, but certain parameters must be met in each case to ensure that a sufficient number of bacteria are killed. In order to safeguard your patrons from food-borne illnesses, sanitizer test kits can be used in restaurants.
One of the most common ways to sanitize dishes is in a three-compartment sink with a variety of powerful chemicals. Chlorine, quaternary ammonium, and iodine are the three approved sanitizers for food service that are utilized frequently. Each requires a specific concentration to be used.
Sanitizing water that contains too little or too much of the chemical can be harmful.
What Does A Sanitizer Test Kit Measure
Although the ratio of chemical to water that should be used is outlined in the instructions provided by each chemical manufacturer, there are some limiting factors that can make it challenging to maintain those levels.
- Estimating Volume: Many workers “eyeball” the amount of water that goes into the sanitizing sink instead of taking the time to measure it because majority of sinks lack volume demarcations in their bowls. Dilutions may be inaccurate as a result.
- Content of Water: The mineral content of the water which is measured in terms of hardness and softness, can affect how the chemical mixes with it, making it difficult to simply measure the right concentration.
Due to these difficulties, it is essential to always have sanitizer test strips on hand in restaurants so that the right amount of sanitizer can be used each time. You can also use test kits to show the health inspector that your sanitization process complies with regulations.
Sanitizer test kits measure the following:
Chlorine: One of the most widely used sanitizing agents is chlorine, also known as bleach. Although it is inexpensive and widely available, it has a distinctive odor that could be unpleasant if it lingers on dishes. Also, when exposed to oil and organic materials, chlorine quickly loses its ability to sanitize, making it less effective if the sanitizing sink becomes contaminated. A chlorine sanitizer solution should have a concentration of 50 to 100 parts per million (ppm) in water that is between 75 and 100 degrees Fahrenheit, and it should be in contact with the water for at least 7 seconds. This means that the chlorine mixture needs to be changed more frequently than those made with other chemical sanitizers. You can make use of chlorine test kits for food service to make sure the right solution is made. After being submerged in the water, the paper takes on a gray hue that can be compared to a scale that comes with the test strips. Most scales range from 10 to 200 parts per million.
Quaternary Ammonium: quaternary ammonium cleans dishes by binding with the negatively charged particles of harmful microbes with its positively charged particles. These sanitizing solutions are frequently referred to as quats or quaternary ammonium compounds (QACs) because it is noncorrosive, quaternary ammonium is frequently preferred to chlorine solutions because it will not pit stainless steel over time.
Due to its detergent-like properties, ammonium can handle more soil than chlorine without needing to be changed and it is skin-friendly.
However, testing is an essential part of any quaternary ammonium sanitation program because quats frequently fail to function properly in hard water. Using a color scale ranging from 0 to 500 ppm, quaternary sanitizer concentration in water is measured by quat test paper. Both tear-off rolls and pre-cut strips are available for this test paper. Dilutions of 150 to 200 parts per million are required for most quaternary ammonium sanitizers, and the dishes must be submerged for at least 30 seconds in water that is at least 75 degrees Fahrenheit.
Iodine: although it isn’t used as frequently as chlorine or quaternary ammonium, iodine has some advantages for restaurants that use it. The brown color of this sanitizing solution indicates its strength, which helps ensure adequate concentration but may eventually discolor your products. Iodine works best in water that is slightly acidic because it is unaffected by the hardness of the water, but it is more sensitive to the pH of the water. If there are organic compounds available, it lasts longer than chlorine, but not as long as quaternary ammonium. Although not as gentle as quaternary ammonium, iodine is also gentler on the skin than chlorine.
In water that is at least 75 degrees Fahrenheit but not more than 120 degrees Fahrenheit, this sanitizer should be used at a concentration of 12.5 to 25 parts per million. Since the color alone is not sufficient to determine the level, iodine test strips are available to assist in maintaining this solution at the appropriate dilution.
READ: How to Make Your Restaurant Safe for Customers and Staff
Sanitation with Hot Water: the other primary method for sanitizing goods is with hot water. This is done with a circulating water heater in a compartment sink. Since the sink is open and thermometers can access it, it is simple to check the water’s temperature. However, it is a little more challenging to check the temperature of the sanitizing rinse in a ware washer.
Temperature test strips enable ware washer operators to monitor water temperatures. These are designed to adhere to the inside of the dishwashing machine, where the water will come into contact with it. When a certain temperature is reached, a colored stripe will disappear from each strip. Operators are able to check wash, rinse, and sanitize temperatures with the help of strips that test for 160 and 180 degrees.
Using a specialized thermometer is another way to check the dishwasher’s hot water temperature because they are designed to record and save the highest temperature recorded during a wash cycle, this only works with a thermometer that has been made and approved for that purpose. Other kinds of thermometers won’t give a good reading and often won’t work right after being washed in the dishwasher.
Add sanitizer or dilute as needed to reach the required concentration if the concentration is either too low or too high.
How frequently should the concentration be checked?
There is no specificity here. However, you must check frequently enough to maintain proper concentration at all times, you could check it twice daily at least.
In order to guarantee that utensils and equipment have been sanitized, you must maintain a surface temperature of at least 160 degrees Fahrenheit when using a high-temperature dish machine. Hot water test labels should be purchased and used frequently because dish machine gauges can be inaccurate.
READ: Environmental Health (Everything You Need To Know)
Sanitization of equipment, utensils, and other items is crucial for both laboratories and restaurants. Restaurants are required by both national and local regulations to ensure that equipment and utensils are cleaned with the appropriate concentrations of sanitizers and high temperatures. Professionals in the food service industry may find it challenging to check the temperatures of functioning dishwashers or the concentrations of sanitizer in solutions. Sanitizer test kits help you comply with the legal requirements for providing safe and sanitary services.
Why is it so important to test your sanitizers on a daily basis with sanitizer test kits?
- Chemicals break down. You may not be aware that these chemicals can degrade over time, even if your sanitizer is designed to produce a specific concentration. This is especially true if you have a lot of hand sanitizer available on the premises. If you store sanitizers in warm or hot conditions, their degradation accelerates even further. Sanitizers will lose their original strength as chemicals degrade, so daily testing is essential.
- The sanitizer is affected by food particles. Containers containing wet wiping cloths must also contain the appropriate amount of sanitizer. The active ingredient will be affected if any food particles enter the sanitizer and the cloths. As a result, you will need to use test strips in addition to changing these containers a couple of times per day to ensure that the sanitizer remains at the appropriate level.
- It’s possible that dishwashers don’t work properly. Sanitizer-powered dishwashers may appear to be working, but if they aren’t properly delivering the sanitizer, equipment and utensils won’t be sanitized. A washer may fail the following day, even if it worked previously. It is essential to check both the dishwasher and the sanitizer to ensure that it is active and is being delivered correctly to equipment surfaces.
How to use sanitizer test strip
How should I use the sanitizer test kits?
You will need to follow the instructions that come with each set of strips that you purchase. However, most strips can be sterilized by simply exposing them to the sanitizer solution. The color of the strips will change after a few seconds, indicating the strength of the sanitizer agent being tested. You can use the comparison scale that comes in the box or tube of the strips to determine the strength of your solution and whether or not you need to make any adjustments.
What are test kits for dishwashers?
To comply with FDA regulations, dishwashing machines utilized in the food service industry and other industries must reach and maintain certain temperatures. To ensure that your dishes and other items are completely sanitized, you can use special test strips to check the temperature of your dishwasher.