Evaluating the effectiveness of vinegar as a sanitizer
Objectives: Pathogens are introduced into foods, surfaces, and hands by our surrounding environment which includes soil, air, and fecal contamination. It can be due to improper handling, cleaning, washing or sanitizing. Sanitizers are applied to surfaces in order to kill all the vegetative cells of microbes. Health Canada regulates the types, uses and concentration of the sanitizers. These sanitizers are chemically formulated to kill microbes and hence there is a rising concern about toxicity associated with their use. People are moving away from regulated sanitizers to natural alternatives. This research project examined the efficacy of vinegar, one of the natural alternatives, as a sanitizer. Methods: 3M Quick Swabs were used to collect coliform samples from a plastic cutting board before and after inoculating it with coliform culture and subsequently cleaning it with vinegar. A one tail paired t-test was conducted to assess whether the coliform counts were reduced after cleaning with vinegar. Results: For all 30 samples there was a reduction in the number of coliforms when comparing before and after cleaning with vinegar. Results show that there is a significant difference in the mean numbers of coliforms before and after cleaning with vinegar; p <0.0001. Conclusion: These results indicate that undiluted vinegar when used for cleaning food contact surface significantly reduces the coliform counts but not to the safer levels for human exposure.