Top 6 FDA-Approved Sanitizers for Food Service

A sanitizer approved by the FDA is essential for ensuring quality and safety within the food service industry. Although FDA approval ensures that products meet minimum standards, there are some differences in products that have been approved. 

Importance of Sanitizers for Food Service

Sanitizers play a vital role in the food service industry. They can help ensure the safety of food products, protect the public’s health and keep the environment clean. Sanitizers, when used properly, also can help prevent the spread of foodborne illnesses and contamination. 

Benefits of FDA-Approved Sanitizers for Food Service 

There are many benefits of ensuring that the sanitizers used in food service have been approved by the FDA and are used correctly. For example, using FDA-approved sanitizers correctly can help eliminate or reduce the presence of hazardous microorganisms on surfaces, utensils and equipment that come into contact with food. Only FDA-approved products can prevent the spread of contaminated pathogens such as E. coli and salmonella, which can cause severe illness or even death.

FDA-approved sanitizers help food service establishments maintain a hygienic environment that instills confidence in customers regarding the safety and sanitation of the business. Regularly cleaning and sanitizing surfaces, equipment and utensils helps prevent the accumulation of dirt and other material that can spread pathogenic bacteria and other contaminants.

Local, state and federal agencies, such as the FDA and the USDA, have established rigorous food safety regulations and guidelines that food service establishments must follow. Sanitizer use is a crucial component of these regulations to ensure that all businesses follow appropriate hygiene practices and food safety standards. Always consult the most recent FDA guidelines and inventories of approved products for the most accurate information.

Best FDA-Approved Food Sanitizers for use in Food Service

The following are sanitizers that the FDA has approved:

1. Alcohol-based sanitizers 

The most commonly used alcohols in food sanitizers are ethanol and isopropyl. These sanitizers are highly effective against pathogens, including viruses and bacteria. However, alcohol-based sanitizers are not always suitable for all surfaces and applications because they are flammable and can damage certain materials.

2. Quaternary ammonium compounds

These cationic agents work by disrupting the cell membranes of microorganisms. These compounds are effective against many bacteria, viruses and fungi. Because of their low toxicity and quick action, they are widely used in the food service industry. 

3. Chlorine-based sanitizers

These sanitizers contain chlorine, a powerful oxidizing agent. Sodium hypochlorite (household bleach), calcium hypochlorite and chlorine dioxide are examples of common chlorine-based sanitizers. In businesses within the food service industry, chlorine is commonly used to sanitize surfaces, utensils and equipment because of its effectiveness against a wide range of substances.

4. Iodophors

Iodophors are complexes of iodine and solubilizing agents or denaturants that work by helping iodine release when it is diluted in water. Iodophors are effective against potential pathogens such as bacteria, viruses and fungi. Because of their effectiveness and low level of toxicity, they are commonly used within the food service industry.

5. Peroxyacetic acid 

PAA is an effective oxidizing agent against various potential pathogens, including most forms of bacteria. This agent is applied to a wide range of services and is even safe for use on certain types of produce. The decomposition of PAA in water and acetic acid makes it an environmentally friendly option.

6. Hydrogen peroxide

Another oxidizing agent that is effective against a wide range of microorganisms is hydrogen peroxide. This widely available product can be used to sanitize most surfaces and equipment and to wash fruits and vegetables.

Choosing an FDA-Approved Sanitizer: Call to Action

Several issues should be considered when selecting an FDA-approved sanitizer for food service to ensure the selected sanitizer is suitable for the particular business. Consider these factors before making a decision:

  • Choose a disinfectant that is effective against pathogens such as bacteria, viruses and fungi. Choosing a sanitizer that has been proven effective against common foodborne pathogens and that is designed specifically for food service applications is essential.

  • Ensure the sanitizer will be effective in fighting pathogens by adhering to the manufacturer’s instructions regarding concentration levels. For example, some sanitizers must be diluted. A concentration that is too low could be ineffective, whereas a concentration that is too high could damage surfaces or leave residues that could contaminate food.

  • Be sure you adhere to the manufacturer’s recommended contact time for your chosen sanitizer. Different sanitizers require varying contact periods to be effective.

  • Avoid injury or degradation of the product by selecting a sanitizer compatible with your establishment’s surfaces and equipment. Some sanitizers may be corrosive or harmful to particular surfaces or materials.

  • Choose a sanitizer that is simple to use, store and transport. Sanitizers that necessitate significant preparation or handling procedures may increase the likelihood of the product being applied incorrectly, causing it to be ineffective or unsafe.

  • Choose a disinfectant that is safe for both employees and the environment. Consider the risks associated with use, storage and disposal of the disinfectant. To ensure the safety and efficacy of the sanitizer, staff members must receive adequate training in its use.

  • Choose a sanitizer that does not leave hazardous residue, particularly on food-contact surfaces, to prevent possible contamination. Make sure the sanitizer you choose is appropriate for the task at hand. 

  • Choose a sanitizer that is odorless and colorless or that has a minimal sensory impact to ensure it does not affect the quality and flavor of the food served. Sanitizers should not add any odor or flavor to food products.

  • Consider the cost of the disinfectant, including the initial purchase price and expenses associated with storage and disposal. 

  • Ensure that the selected disinfectant complies with all applicable local, state and federal regulations and guidelines.

At Alsco, we provide a wide range of state-of-the-art, FDA-approved sanitizers and cleaning products for businesses within the food service industry. Learn how our Clean Shield Disinfectant Service can help your business ensure the cleanliness and safety of your customers and employees. Contact us today.


CFR – Code of Federal Regulations Title 21. (January 2023). U.S. Food & Drug Administration.

Is It Really ‘FDA Approved’? U.S. Food & Drug Administration.

Sanitizers and Disinfectants: A Retail Food Service Perspective. (May/June 2021). Food Protection Trends. 

3 Chemical Sanitizers Approved for Foodservice. (December 2022). FoodSafePal. 

Contact Us

Interested in Alsco's Services? Visit our Contact page and let us know!