Many restaurants and other food establishments use chemicals frequently, especially for cleaning and sanitizing. However, if chemicals are not used or stored safely, they create chemical hazards that can be dangerous to your customers and employees. Hang this Use Chemicals Safely Poster in your chemical closet and discuss the following 10 points with your employees to help keep chemicals out of food and your customers safe.
Chemical safety do’s
- Store chemicals away from food storage and contact areas.
Chemicals can easily get into food or spill onto food-contact surfaces if they are stored incorrectly. A separate area should be used for chemical storage to make sure your food and equipment stay safe.
- Label all chemicals clearly.
If chemicals are mislabeled or hard to read, it can be difficult to know what they are and should be used for. If you find a chemical container without a clear label, discard the chemical properly.
- Wash all fruits and vegetables.
Fruits and vegetables sometimes have pesticides on them to keep bugs and other pests from eating them. These chemicals can be dangerous in high doses. To remove the pesticides, simply wash the food in water or use other approved methods.
- Follow the manufacturer’s instructions for chemical use.
It is very important to follow the instructions for each chemical. If there is too much or too little of the chemical, or if it is used incorrectly, the chemical can be dangerous.
- Wash your hands after handling chemicals.
Chemicals can get on your hands and you could spread them if you do not properly wash your hands. Be sure to keep yourself and others safe by washing your hands after handling chemicals.
Chemical safety don’ts
- Don’t clean or use chemicals near food.
Chemicals can easily get into food if they are near it. Keep them separate and protect your food from contamination.
- Don’t mix chemicals together.
Chemicals can become more dangerous and unexpected results can happen if chemicals are mixed. Follow the manufacturer’s instructions and use chemicals correctly.
- Don’t use copper, lead, and pewter cookware and utensils.
Lead, which is also in pewter, can be toxic in high enough levels. Acidic foods used with copper cookware can leach the chemicals and make the food toxic. Avoid using these types of cookware.
- Don’t put used or spilled chemicals back into the original container.
If a chemical is spilled, it may react with unknown components on the surface it was spilled on. To keep your chemicals fresh and safe, discard of spilled chemicals properly.
- Don’t use a chemical container to store food.
Containers used for chemical storage can still have toxic materials in them, even if they appear clean. If you put food in them, your food may become toxic. Discard of chemical containers properly and use only food-grade storage containers to store food.
Using chemicals properly can help keep you, your customers, and your employees safe. For more information on chemical hazards or other training on ways to keep food safe, visit StateFoodSafety.
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— Janilyn Hutchings
Editor’s note: This post was originally published in January 2016 and has been updated for freshness, accuracy, and comprehensiveness.