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Quat Sanitizer

Posted By KRHA, Tuesday, November 22, 2016

Understanding The Kansas Food Code: Sanitation


Priority Violation: 4-501.114 – Chemical Sanitization

Applying the proper sanitizer to clean food-contact surfaces reduces the number of harmful microorganisms to safe levels.  There are several factors that influence the effectiveness of sanitizers.  The three factors most often discussed are time, temperature and concentration. 

Recently, concern has arisen around the discovery that quat sanitizers have a tendency to become attracted to and absorbed into fabrics. 


Problem: Your quaternary sanitizer consistently falls below 200 PPM
Quat sanitizer solutions that drop below 200 PPM not only increase your chances of being cited but also leave your patrons at risk.


Reason: Traditional foodservice towels deplete sanitizer solutions
Quats are positively charged and they are attracted to fabrics that are negatively charged.  This results in a portion of the quats becoming unavailable to disinfect hard surfaces.  This is a common issue when using nonwoven, terry, and linen cloths.


Solution: Sanitizers can be applied to surfaces in several different ways

  • Purchase a cloth rag that is designed specifically not to bind quat. Some microfiber towels are designed for this purpose, but not all are created equal.
  • Purchase rags that have the sanitizer built in.  This type of product is designed to change color when the concentration of the sanitizer drops below the minimum concentration.
  • Use an alternative approach.  Clean the surface with the cloth, spray the quat sanitizer on the surface and then air dry.
  • Traditional quat sanitizers have a starting concentration of 200 PPM, which puts the solution at risk for coming out of required range quickly.  There are quat sanitizers on the market that have a wider zone of initial sanitizing concentration, allowing it to still be effective for up to four hours when using the traditional terry towel. 

Food Code regulations for sanitizing have not changed.  Many operators have noticed their sanitizer concentration dropping quickly.  The concern is that most operators do not know why this is happening.  It is important that operators work with their chemical suppliers to identify the best solution for the needs of their establishment.  Always follow label directions for sanitizer concentration requirements and use the appropriate testing method to ensure correct concentration levels. It is important for staff to not only test initial concentration levels but also test levels during use.  if the solution drops below 200 PPM at any point it must be replaced.  

If you have specific food safety questions let us know by sending an email to  By partnering with theKansas Department of Agriculture and industry operators, our goal is to create a safe food supply in Kansas.  


Tags:  food code  food safety  quat sanatizer  restaurant management  sanitizer 

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