September is National Food Safety Month, and the National Restaurant Association (NRA) is celebrating all month by sharing advice for making foodservice establishments safer for customers, especially during the COVID-19 pandemic.

This year’s theme is Know Safe & Show Safe, which is all about all knowing how to properly clean, sanitize and disinfect. The one thing that hasn’t changed in the industry during the last year and a half is how to clean, sanitize, and disinfect, so the NRA is focusing on reminding workers of the tried-and-true techniques in the front of the house and back.

There are three basic things to remember:

  1. Cleaning – Removes food and dirt from a surface
  2. Sanitizing – Reduces pathogens (bacteria, for example) on surfaces to safe levels
  3. Disinfecting – Removes all microorganisms from a surface

All food-contact surfaces need to be cleaned and sanitized when switching to a different food, after use, after handling different raw Temperature Control for Safety (TCS) fruits and vegetables, any time there is an interruption during a task and after four hours if items are in constant use.

So how do you clean and sanitize surfaces? The NRA says:

  1. Scrape or remove food bits from the surface. Use the correct cleaning tool, such as a nylon brush or pad, or a cloth towel.
  2. Wash the surface. Prepare the cleaning solution with an approved cleaner. Wash the surface with the correct cleaning tool, such as a cloth towel.
  3. Rinse the surface. Use clean water.  Rinse the surface with the correct cleaning tool, such as a cloth towel.
  4. Sanitize the surface. Use the correct sanitizing solution.

You can read more about all of these topics at National Food Safety Month’s website, which features free resources all month long to help with food safety education.