.Sanitizing With Quaternary Ammonium Sanitzers ("Quats")
The best way to use quaternary ammonium as a routine sanitizer is to really understand what is needed in terms of strength. This is why using our AQA 1507 quaternary ammonium test kit is the key to really doing it the right way. "Quats" are active against a wide variety of microorganisms. Unlike bleach, "quats" are odorless and colorless. And, also unlike bleach, they are are non-corrosive, so they will be safer to use over time with metal equipment and surfaces. Their antimicrobial action is varied and selective, but they are generally as effective as bleach/chlorine solutions. The most common "quat" is benzalkonium chloride. It is commonly used in water dilution to create a highly effective sanitizing solution. The standard for "quat" mixing is 200 PPM. There are over 40 suppliers that provide "quat" sanitizing concentrates. Each one needs testing to be sure that appropriate concentration has been achieved.
The answer is simple: you don't always get "quat" solutions of the right strength, even if you follow mixing instructions. What causes this? Sometimes water used for "quat" preparation contains natural chemicals that work to weaken the solution and sometimes the "quat" concentrate itself has lost strength.
General GuidelinesA standard for time of exposure is 1 minute for most sanitizers, including "quats". A minimum exposure time standard would be 30 seconds. Generally, food touching surfaces should be post-rinsed, unless processing equipment is being treated (see chart below). Here is a guideline for mixing and using "quat" solutions:
"Quats" must not be used directly with soaps or detergents. An intermediary hot rinse step is necessary if quats are used for immersion sanitation of utensils.
"Quats" can be sprayed or wiped directly on certain non-food-contact surfaces and then allowed to dry.
"Quats" at normal concentration is the only sanitizer proven effective as a "hand dip" for hand wash procedures.
How to Mix and Use Quat Solutions
There are many different types of "quat" concentrates, so there are no general guidelines for mixing. Most commercial containers will describe in detail how to mix the compound to a certain concentration, but it is always best to mix, then test.
Clearly, it is difficult for any food preparation operation to "get it right" without some simple bleach strength testing procedure.