Food Hygiene Legislation in the UK requires all articles, fittings and equipment with which food comes into contact to be  sufficiently cleaned and, where necessary, disinfected to prevent contamination of food. It is widely accepted that all articles, fittings or equipment that comes into contact with raw food, either directly or indirectly (through handling or cleaning practices), must be disinfected before they can be used in contact with other ready to eat foods.

Until recently, any detergents or sanitisers that were labelled as 'Bactericidal' were generally accepted for use in food businesses to clean and disinfect food contact equipment, often in a single step.

The Food Standards Agency's new guidance document 'E. coli O157: Control of Cross Contamination' introduced the new requirement for all food contact articles, fittings and equipment that require disinfection to be cleaned first using detergent, then disinfected using either heat (above 82°C, which is not always practical) or using an appropriate chemical disinfectant that meets the requirements of BS EN 1276:2009 or BS EN 13697:2015.

These British Standards are the two officially recognised standards for assessing the effectiveness of disinfectants against a range of micro-organisms, including E. coli.

The cleaning and disinfection process must take place in two stages, cleaning followed by disinfection. Cleaning and disinfection in a single stage is no longer acceptable.

Unfortunately, many of the chemical disinfectants currently available on the market lack sufficient labelling to determine whether they meet either of the British Standards and are appropriate for use. This can lead to the wrong chemicals being used and inadequate disinfection of food contact equipment, which increases the risk of cross contamination and food poisoning.

Ultimately, if disinfection procedures are found to be inadequate by Food Hygiene Inspectors, the food business is at risk of being restricted from certain food handling activities or even prohibited from selling food completely until strict disinfection procedures are in place.

In my role as an Environmental Health Officer, I have encountered many chemicals in use for disinfection. I have researched these chemicals and contacted the manufacturers and suppliers of each chemical to confirm their suitability (or not) for use as disinfectants in food premises.

I have developed this public site in an attempt to produce a single source of reference, which can be accessed by all Food Business Operators and Enforcement Officers, where hopefully in time most of the appropriate chemicals available in the UK will be listed, along with product information where available.

Many Local Authorities have published their own short lists of appropriate disinfectants to assist their local food businesses, however, these are often limited in size and detail. I hope that with contributions from Local Authority Officers and Chemical Suppliers/Manufacturers, this site can become a valuable resource and a complete source of relevant information for those who are responsible for the implementation or assessment of adequate disinfection procedures.