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H&S Inspectors Advise Against the Widespread Use of Bleach in Catering Environments

Although bleach is an unquestionably effective weapon in the fight against harmful bacteria and food poisoning, Health and Safety inspectors are now advising against the use of chlorine and similar bleaching agents as a means of decontaminating food preparation surfaces and cooking equipment.

The reason for this is that although bleach can kill 99.9% of bacteria on contact, it is also highly poisonous to humans and the risk of contaminating food with bleach products is almost unavoidable when bleach based solutions are used to clean cooking utensils and kitchen work surfaces.

Of course, there are certain situations where the use of bleach is seemingly inescapable when it comes to ensuring total hygiene in food preparation areas.  However, there are a number of commonly available alternatives that are just as efficient in terms of killing bacteria.  Furthermore, all of these products are completely natural, very affordable and considerably less harmful to the environment.

So, what are the alternatives to bleach?

If you are looking to remove bleach entirely from your list of kitchen cleaning products then here is a list of natural substitutes.  You can use these products as a direct replacement for household bleach and they will completely disinfect everything from wooden chopping boards and knives through to tea towels, dishcloths and food preparation surfaces.

Hydrogen Peroxide

Although people often refer to hydrogen peroxide as a type of bleach, it is not chlorine based and is in fact an environmentally friendly or “green” alternative.  Chemically speaking, hydrogen peroxide molecules contain two hydrogen atoms and two oxygen atoms and the molecular structure will naturally break down into oxygen and water.

If you are using hydrogen peroxide in a catering environment then what you need to remember is that it is available in seven grades – with a 35% solution being the recommended safety limit for human ingestion.

However, you must also bear in mind that there are hydrogen peroxide solutions available over the counter containing stabilizers that are not fit for human consumption.  To clean a chopping board with hydrogen peroxide, you can simply add a few undiluted drops to the surface then wipe clean with a dry cloth or paper towel.


Vinegar is one of Mother Nature’s most effective weapons in the war against bacteria and it can kill all manner of dangerous microbes.   E. coli, Salmonella and Staphylococcus are just three forms of deadly bacteria that vinegar will kill off completely once applied to your chopping board.  You can use most types of vinegar as they all do a similar job – although Apple Cider vinegar is particularly effective and it can even be used to kill fleas on domestic pets!  It is important to remember that most supermarket vinegars are heavily processed and that organic vinegars are typically most effective as they contain “good” bacteria that kill off bad variants.

Baking Soda and Salt

Once you have disinfected a chopping board with hydrogen peroxide and vinegar, you may find that certain smells remain – whether from the hydrogen peroxide itself or from the vinegar and other natural cleaning agents.  Another effective method of cleaning a chopping board is by means of a mixture of baking soda and salt.  Simply pour some salt and baking powder into a bowl, add a little water to create a paste and then rub the mixture into the board with a damp cloth.  This will eliminate unpleasant odours and restore the youthful appearance of your cutting board.

Lemon Juice

Lemon juice is also an effective remedy in terms of combating lingering smells on a chopping board.  The best way of using lemon juice for this purpose is to cut a whole lemon in half and rub it across the surface of your cutting board, which will freshen up the board completely.  Once you have rubbed the lemon across the length and breadth of your wooden chopping board, simply rinse with warm water and dry with a towel.