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Chemicals can be a cause of food contamination. It is important not to create problems by allowing food to come into contact with chemicals that are used and stored in kitchens or food areas. We have talked on this course about ensuring that surfaces are clean and that the correct chemicals are used but it is equally as important to ensure that the chemical residues do not come in to contact with food.

Chemicals found in kitchens will vary but include substances like:

  • Bleach
  • Dishwasher cleaner
  • Washing up liquid
  • Pest control chemicals or bait stations
  • Soaps
  • Oven cleaner
  • Floor cleaners.

Where you have to keep chemicals in the food area ensure they are in the correct container and labelled correctly. If possible keep out of the immediate area. Think about what would happen if a container leaked and ensure that this could not access food storage or preparation areas. For this reason, do not keep chemicals with food or drink. Areas, where chemicals are stored, should be locked.

In some cases, people store chemicals in empty food containers. This can result in a chemical accidentally being mistaken for a food ingredient.

The risks of chemicals can include:

  • Contamination of foods
  • Fumes and smell tainting foods
  • Dangers to staff working with or near the chemicals
  • Dangers of chemicals accidentally being mixed causing a more harmful substance or fumes
  • Dangers from dust or spray mist when using chemicals
  • Contamination from cleaning cloths, brushes and sponges.

You can reduce risks and hazards by:

  • The use of correct personal protective equipment
  • Correct disposal of chemicals and cleaning equipment
  • Following the instructions for the chemicals correctly
  • Not storing chemicals near or with food and transporting cleaning chemicals separately from food
  • Correct signage, labelling and not putting a chemical in food containers or food in chemical containers
  • Only using food grade storage containers
  • Storing chemicals in a locked section or cupboard
  • Ensuring that pest control products do not mix near food
  • Buying food and supplies from approved suppliers
  • Ensuring that all food is covered or stored away when cleaning
  • Correct training and supervision.

If it is suspected that chemicals have contaminated food or the work area, this should be reported to a supervisor and food production stopped.