On-farm Food Safety: Cleaning and Sanitizing Guide

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Good Agricultural Practices (GAPs) can improve produce quality and safety and protect your business. Producers also use standard cleaning and sanitizing practices to reduce sources of microbial contamination on their products.
This publication focuses on the best cleaning and sanitizing practices for food products and food contact surfaces. It includes a resource list plus a sample form for monitoring sanitizer effectiveness and a sample cleaning schedule.
Washing, rinsing, and sanitizing may appear to increase costs, but they enhance product quality and offer these benefits:

  • Soil and particles that can cause decay or spoilage are removed.
  • Microorganisms that cause foodborne illness can be eliminated or reduced to a safe level.
  • Clean produce is more visually appealing to customers.
  • Product shelf life increases when spoilage organisms are removed.

Using good sanitation practices during production, harvesting, and packaging can help reduce the risk of microbial contamination of fresh produce. Soil, fertilizers, harvesting equipment, water, workers, or animals such as livestock, pets, and pests can be sources of harmful microorganisms that cause foodborne illness. Surfaces that come in contact with produce must be washed, rinsed, and sanitized regularly. Employees need to understand and use appropriate food handling practices.

Catherine Strohbehn
Paul A. Domoto
Iowa State University Extension and Outreach