Sanitizers are applied to reduce the pathogenic and spoilage microorganisms of food facilities and equipment. Soils must be completely removed for sanitizers to function properly.
The major types of sanitizers are thermal, radiation, and chemical. Thermal and radiation techniques are less practical for food production facilities than is chemical sanitizing. Of the chemical sanitizers, the chlorine compounds tend to be the most effective and the least expensive, although they tend to be more irritating and corrosive than are the iodine compounds or the quaternary ammonium compounds. Bromine compounds are more beneficial for wastewater treatment than for sanitizing cleaned surfaces, although bromine and chlorine are synergistic when combined. The quats are more restrictive in their activities but are effective against mold growth and have residual properties. They do not kill bacterial spores but can limit their growth. Acid-quat and chlorine dioxide sanitizers offer potential for the control of L. monocytogenes, and ozone is being evaluated as a chlorine substitute. Glutaraldehyde can be incorporated as a sanitizer for conveyor lubricants used for food operations. Various tests are available to determine the concentration of sanitizing solutions.