Food Safety Audit to food manufacturers – Typical documents and records to be reviewed

Cleaning effectively in you food business

Cleaning effectively in you food business

Cleaning effectively is essential to get rid of harmful bacteria and viruses (including coronavirus) to stop them from spreading, it also discouragespest activity, reduces food contamination and food waste. Here is the guidance for food businesses on how to clean equipment and surfaces to prevent harmful bacteria and coronavirus (COVID-19) from spreading onto food and people.

The risks from coronavirus (COVID-19) 

COVID-19 is mainly passed on by person-to-person spread between people who are in close contact with one another and by droplets produced when an infected person coughs or sneezes.

Coronavirus (COVID-19) can also spread through contact with a surface or object that has the virus on it. Cleaning helps minimise the spread of coronavirus (COVID-19).

The risk of infection depends on many factors, including:

  • the type of surfaces contaminated
  • the amount of virus shed from the individual
  • the time the individual spent in the setting
  • the time since the individual was last in the setting

The infection risk from coronavirus (COVID-19) following contamination of the environment decreases over time. It is not yet clear at what point there is no risk. However, studies of other viruses in the same family suggest that, in most circumstances, the risk is likely to be reduced significantly after 72 hours.

Steps for cleaning effectively

Step by step guide:

  • Before reopening, carry out an assessment of the while site to make sure that location is clean and ready to restart. This should include a review of cleaning procedures and sufficient provison of cleaning products e.g. soap, hand sanitiser.
  • Checking whether you need to service or adjust ventilation systems, for example, so that they do not automatically reduce ventilation levels due to lower than normal occupancy levels.
  • Opening windows and doors frequently to encourage ventilation, where possible.
  • Clean and disinfect food areas and equipment between different tasks, especially after handling raw food.
  • Clean as you go. clear spills up straight away and clean the surface thoroughly.
  • Use suitable cleaning and disinfection products and follow the manufacturer’s instructions.
  • Disinfection products should meet the BS EN standards.
  • Do not let food waste build up. Dispose of food waste suitably.
  • Use a cleaning schedule to make sure that surfaces and equipment are cleaned when needed.
  • Please note, effective cleaning is one of the areas the local Environmental Health Officer look for when visiting your premises.

Cleaning and disinfection

Public areas where a symptomatic individual has passed through and spent minimal time, such as corridors, but which are not visibly contaminated with body fluids can be cleaned thoroughly as normal.

All surfaces that the symptomatic person has come into contact with must be cleaned and disinfected, including:

  • objects which are visibly contaminated with body fluids
  • all potentially contaminated high-contact areas such as bathrooms, door handles, telephones, and grab-rails in corridors and stairwells

Use disposable cloths or paper roll and disposable mop heads, to clean all hard surfaces, floors, chairs, door handles and sanitary fittings, following one of the options below:

  • use either a combined detergent disinfectant solution at a dilution of 1,000 parts per million available chlorine


  • a household detergent followed by disinfection (1000 ppm Follow manufacturer’s instructions for dilution, application and contact times for all detergents and disinfectants


  • if an alternative disinfectant is used within the organisation, this should be checked and ensure that it is effective against enveloped viruses

Avoid creating splashes and spray when cleaning.

Any cloths and mop heads used must be disposed of and should be put into waste bags as outlined below.

When items cannot be cleaned using detergents or laundered, for example, upholstered furniture and mattresses, steam cleaning should be used.

Any items that are heavily contaminated with body fluids and cannot be cleaned by washing should be disposed of.

Cleaning schedule

A cleaning schedule should be created, based on your risk assessment. You need to identify what needs cleaning or disinfecting and determine the frequency, e.g. every day, or more than once a day, and what needs cleaning less frequently (e.g. Items that do not touch food, examples include dry storage areas and floors). Your schedule should show:

  • what needs to be cleaned
  • what needs to be disinfected
  • how often it needs to be done
  • Who should do the cleaning
  • how the cleaning/disinfecting should be done

It is a good idea to include cleaning instructions showing:

  • cleaning procedures or work instructions
  • what cleaning products should be used
  • how the products should be used, including how much they should be diluted and how long they should be left in contact with the surface, following the manufacturer’s instructions
  • how the products should be stored – in a designated place, not in food areas to prevent food contamination

You can find more information on FSA’s cleaning in their Safer food, better business for caterers pack.

Disinfecting products

Any chemicals used in food establishments to clean and disinfect food contact surfaces and equipment must be approved as Food Safe. Check product labels or SDS for either of these codes: BS EN 1276 or BS EN 13697. You are advised to follow the manufacturer’s preparation and cleaning instructions. You should pay particular attention to contact times.

Meaning of different terms:


Detergents clean the surface and remove grease, but they do not kill bacteria and viruses.


Disinfectants kill bacteria and viruses, make the surface clean before you use disinfectants, as disinfectants do not work effectively if the surface is covered in grease or visible dirt. It is also important that you leave the product on the surface for the time specified in the manufacturer’s instructions for contact time.


Sanitisers can be used to both clean and disinfect as part of a two-stage approach. First use the sanitiser to clean the surface, removing any dirt and food grease. Re-apply to the visibly clean surface and leave for the required time to disinfect the surface.

If disinfecting products are not available

Food businesses should use approved cleaning and disinfecting products. According to the Food Standard Agency, if the cleaning and disinfecting products you routinely use are not available, you should seek approved, food-safe alternatives with equivalent and effective properties.

Both alcohol-based sanitisers/surface disinfectants (in concentrations of 70-80%) and common disinfectants based on ammonium compounds or chlorine (bleach), can be effective. They can be applied either as a combined detergent-disinfectant solution or when adopting a two-stage approach as a disinfectant following cleaning with a detergent. In either case, food contact surfaces should be washed down with water to prevent chemical contamination of food.

You must ensure: 

  • the manufacturer’s instructions on use are followed, including using appropriate dilution rates and contact times
  • the health and safety of staff is considered, the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) provides guidance on the use of chemicals in the workplace, we offer Highfield Level 2 Award in Control of Substances Hazardous to Health (COSHH) E-learning if your employees need further training
  • the suitability of the chemicals for the surfaces to be cleaned and disinfected

If alternative disinfectant products are not available, food businesses may wish to consider using heat as a Critical Control Point. Kitchen items such as knives and utensils can be put into a dishwasher, rated for disinfection, or submerged into boiling water. Surfaces can also be steam cleaned.

Good practices:

  • Regularly wash/wipe and disinfect all the items people touch frequently, such as work surfaces, sinks, taps, door handles, switches, can openers, cash registers, telephones and scales.
  • Clean and disinfect fridges regularly at a time when they do not contain much food. Transfer food to another fridge or a safe cold area and keep it covered.
  • Ideally use a dishwasher. Do not overload the dishwasher and make sure it is maintained and serviced regularly. If you do not have a dishwasher, wash plates, equipment, etc, in hot soapy water using bactericidal detergent. Ideally, separate sinks should be used for washing up equipment used for raw foods and equipment used for ready to eat foods. If you have to use the same sink, the water must be changed and the sink (including all taps/fittings) must be thoroughly cleaned and disinfected using a two stage clean between uses.
  • For equipment or areas that are hard to clean, you may wish to employ a contract cleaner.
  • Cleaning an area with normal household disinfectant after someone with suspected coronavirus (COVID-19) has left will reduce the risk of passing the infection on to other people
  • Wear disposable or washing-up gloves and aprons for cleaning. These should be double-bagged, then stored securely for 72 hours then thrown away in the regular rubbish after cleaning is finished
  • Using a disposable cloth, first clean hard surfaces with warm soapy water. Then disinfect these surfaces with the cleaning products you normally use. Pay particular attention to frequently touched areas and surfaces, such as bathrooms, grab-rails in corridors and stairwells, and door handles
  • If an area has been heavily contaminated, such as with visible bodily fluids, from a person with coronavirus (COVID-19), use protection for the eyes, mouth and nose, as well as wearing gloves and an apron

Food safety coaching video – Cleaning effectively

How to clean work surfaces using a two-stage process.

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