What is the difference between food safety and food sanitation?

What is the difference between food safety and food sanitation?

What is the difference between food safety and food sanitation? Food safety refers to the conditions and practices used to prevent foodborne illness and injury. It relies on the joint efforts of everyone involved in our food supply chain, from farmers and processes to retailers and caterers. When considering food safety, it is important to know about safety hazards first.

Food safety hazards

There are three types of food safety hazards and those are biological hazards, physical hazards, and chemical hazards.

Biological hazards

When considering hazards, bacteria, viruses, parasites, and fungi can cause illness. They are present in the natural environment where food is grown and cause more foodborne illnesses than other hazards. When considering diseases that result from pathogenic microorganisms, there are two types as foodborne infection and foodborne intoxication.

Foodborne infection

This is caused by the ingestion of food-containing live organism which grows and establishes themselves in the human intestinal tract. Examples are,

  • Listeria monocytogenes
  • Salmonella spp.
  • Campylobacter jejuni
  • Yersinia enterocolitica

Foodborne intoxication

This is caused by ingesting food containing toxins formed by an organism which resulted from the microorganism growth in the food item. It is not necessary to consume a living microorganism. Examples are,

  • Staphylococcus aureus
  • Clostridium botulinum
  • Clostridium perfringens
  • Bacillus cereus

Every pathogenic microorganism has its own set of characteristic symptoms. The most common symptom associated with foodborne illnesses is diarrhea. Also, the severity of the foodborne illness depends on the pathogenic microorganism or toxin ingested, the amount of food consumed, and the health status of the individual. For individuals who have health conditions, or for the aged, children, or pregnant women, any foodborne illness may be life-threatening.

Physical hazards

This means any foreign matter that accidentally finds its way into foods and examples are,

  • Hair
  • Fingernails
  • Bandages
  • Jewelry
  • Broken glass, staples
  • Plastic wrap/packaging
  • Dirt from unwashed fruit and vegetables
  • Pests/pest droppings/rodent hair

Chemical hazards

  • Pesticides
  • Toxic metals
  • Sanitizers
  • Cleaning products
  • Preservatives

After considering the food safety hazards under the topic of “What is the difference between food safety and food sanitation?” let’s talk about contamination. There are various sources that affect food contamination.

Sources of food contamination

Major contamination sources are,

  • Air
  • Water
  • Equipment
  • Dust
  • Insects
  • Rodents
  • Sewage

Also, there are very important three facts when considering the contamination. Those are time-temperature abuse, poor personal and facility safety and sanitation, and cross-contamination.

Time-temperature abuse

This happens when the food is exposed to a temperature danger zone (5⁰C- 60⁰C) for more than 4 hrs. This occurs when, food is not stored, prepared, or held at a required temperature, food is not cooked or reheated to a temperature high enough to kill harmful microorganisms, and food is not cooled low enough fast.

Poor personal and facility safety and sanitation

This means poor personal hygiene. If we follow proper personal hygiene practices, we can prevent contamination.

  • Use protective clothing- coat, hair and beard net, safety shoes, gloves
  • Do not sneeze, cough, spit or smoke near food
  • Avoid touching nose, teeth, ears, and hair, or scratching when handling food
  • Wash hands frequently using disinfectant soap and hot water
  • In food handling areas, do not eat or chew gum
  • No jewelry, nail polish, and fake nails
  • Don’t work with food when ill
  • Covered wounds/cuts with a waterproof bandage

Cross contamination

This occurs when transferring microorganisms from one surface or food to another. The contaminants can transfer from hand to hand, food to hand, and food contact surfaces to food.

When considering the food industry under the topic of “What is the difference between food safety and food sanitation?” it is important to consider hygiene practices in processing premises. We have to think about not only food but also food processing premises.

Hygienic practices in food processing premises

When considering food safety and sanitation, this is very important in the food industry.

  • Purchase raw materials from reliable sources
  • Control pests
  • Proper handling of chemicals
    • Store chemicals in original containers to prevent accidental misuse, as well as leakage into food
    • Make sure labels clearly identify the chemical contents of chemical containers
    • Always use chemicals according to a chemical recommendation
    • Always test sanitizing solution
    • Wash hands thoroughly after working with chemicals
  • Handle and store raw and cooked foods individually
  • Processing and cooking food at correct time-temperature
  • Never store food on the floor
  • Use appropriate containers to store and handle foods
  • Maintain good personal hygiene
  • Clean & sanitize equipment, work surfaces & utensils


When considering cleaning, this means removing food and other types of soil from a surface sanitizing reduces the number of pathogens on that clean surface to safe levels. This process contains below cleaning operations.

  • Prevent the build-up of dirt and soils that stick to surfaces
  • Removing food and insect hiding areas and reducing the bacterial load and thereby improving hygiene standards
  • Protect surfaces from dirt, food, and detergent/disinfectant residues from corrosion
  • Prevent contamination of foods

Also, cleaning is affected by the type of soil. Examples are,

  • Organic soils from food residues (fat, protein, carbohydrate-based)
  • Mineral soils from water deposits
  • Biofilms (microbial)
  • Lubricating greases and oils
  • Other (sands in bottles, sticky labels, etc.)

When considering cleaning under the topic of “What is the difference between food safety and food sanitation?” there are four factors that affect cleaning efficiency. Those are time, type of cleaner, mechanics, and temperature.

  • Time – The cleaning efficiency can improve by increasing the application times.
  • Type of cleaner – This needs to select for the type of soil and water properties.
  • Mechanics – Increasing turbulence or force of scrubbing provides for more effective removal of soils.
  • Temperature – Higher temperatures lead to increasing reaction rates. Also, effective cleaning starts at 40-45 ºC.

Also, there are various cleaning methods such as,

  • Manual & Mechanical – Wet & Dry
  • Immersion cleaning
  • COP (Cleaning Out of Place)
  • CIP (Cleaning In Place)
  • High-Pressure cleaning
  • Foam cleaning

Mechanical – Dry Cleaning

  • Use of brooms/ shovels.
  • Use of automated vacuum cleaners.
  • Handle where wet cleaning is not possible.
  • Areas manufacturing water-sensitive products.

Immersion Cleaning

  • Parts place in the cleaning solutions to come in contact with the entire surface of the parts.
  • For components that need a long soaking period due to the form of contamination to be removed or the shape of the components to be cleaned.
  • A most effective method, even if not the fastest one.
  • Can use with any type of cleaner for any process.

COP (Cleaning Out of Place)

  • A method to clean pieces of equipment by removing them from their operating area and taking them for cleaning to a specified cleaning station.
  • It involves dismantling an apparatus, washing it with an automated system in a central washing area, and testing it during reassembly.

CIP (Cleaning In Place)

  • Cleaning internal surfaces of production equipment without disassembly.
  • Reduces cleaning time and decreases the amount of manual labor involved in cleaning.

High Pressure Cleaning

  • Usage of a high-pressure spray system to help clear soil.
  • Useful for walls, floors, tables, and large equipment.
  • Advantages are,
    • Good for removal of difficult soil
    • Lowest water usage
    • Works against a broad range of soil

Foam Cleaning

  • Use of high foaming solution to increase the retention time on the vertical surfaces.
  • Gels are used to further increase over foam the retention time on the vertical surface.
  • Advantages are,
    • Applied at Low pressures
    • High chemical/soiling contact time
    • Safe for operators as a little aerosol is formed
    • Hence more aggressive chemicals can be used
    • Uses significantly less water than pressure cleaning
    • Reduces cleaning time

When considering what is the difference between food safety and food sanitation? , these are the cleaning methods and wrong cleaning can irreversibly damage equipment. Also, the methods of physical and chemical cleaning can be very abrasive and damage surfaces and equipment irreversibly if used incorrectly. It is, therefore, necessary to only use the recommended detergent with correct concentrations and adequate cleaning equipment.

Sanitation (Disinfection)

This means reduces the number of microorganisms on that clean surface to safe levels. This is the step that comes after cleaning. Sanitation inactivates microorganisms only if soils have first been removed. There are two main methods of disinfection exist as physical (e.g. heating, using UV) and chemical (e.g. chlorine).

Keeping food safe and clean is the key to food sanitation, with all of its handlers complying with the necessary rules and recommendations. These laws cover such items as safe food handling temperatures; safe cooking temperatures; cutting board and other equipment sterilization; proper handler clothing, such as gloves and breathing masks; and the times or dates on which to feed, serve, or sell the food.

Food sanitation can become complicated within the commercial food industry. A single supply chain error may make many individuals sick from consuming contaminated food. Within certain jurisdictions, any company that manufactures food or sells it to customers must undergo routine inspections to ensure that all sanitation laws and procedures are being followed.

What should be cleaned and sanitized?

  • All surfaces that may contact the food product, such as utensils, knives, tables, cutting boards, conveyor belts storage bins, gloves, and aprons.
  • Surfaces that do not touch the product directly, such as walls, ceilings, floors, and drains, have a profound environmental effect.
  • Cleaning instruments should be washed and sanitized, such as brooms, mops, squeegees, buckets, sponges, scrapers, foaming equipment, water guns, etc.
  • A significant source of microbial contamination may be cleaning equipment if not washed.
  • Tools for cleaning should clean and sanitize after use.
  • They should store clean, dry, and secure.

What is the difference between food safety and food sanitation? When considering those facts, you can easily understand the difference between food safety and sanitation. Also, there is more information about food safety hazards, sources of contamination, hygienic practices in food processing premises, and many other facts related to food safety and sanitation. When considering the food industry, stay with us to know more facts about the food industry and consider following us on Instagram and Facebook.

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