It is important for food premises operators to ensure they properly clean and sanitize all food contact surfaces. This includes utensils, cutting boards and other equipment that directly comes into contact with food. The Ontario Food Premises Regulation outlines all of the requirements regarding proper cleaning and sanitation. Below is some information regarding specific cleaning and sanitizing steps and processes that may assist food premises operators.


Toronto Public Health has noted an increase in the number of food courts or food halls that provide communal dishwashers for use by multiple establishments within a building or area.

What do I need to know about communal commercial dishwashers?

Communal commercial dishwashers are regulated under the Ontario Food Premises Regulations and must meet or exceed their requirements.

What happens if an inspection reveals non-compliance?

Where an inspection reveals issues that will result in a conditional pass, all premises using the dishwasher will receive a conditional pass. The only exception would be any premises that was aware of the situation and had switched to single use utensils. Any premises using reusable dishes, whether they were aware of the issue or not, would receive a conditional pass

Is there anything which can be done on the spot?

Depending on the actual violation, a dishwasher may be able to be serviced and the issue resolved by the end of the inspection(s), and a “Corrected During Inspection (CDI)” notation may be used. However, the violations that are “correctable” are very few.

Do we need test strips?

Test strips are not required for chlorine, quaternary ammonium or iodine machines. It is still advisable to have them on hand to ensure that the machine is working properly. If an inspector notes a machine that is not dispensing sanitizer properly, a conditional pass may be issued.

Test strips are required if using any other sanitizer allowed under s.19(e) of the Ontario Food Premises Regulations.

Food safety concerns of meat slicers

In 2008, an outbreak of foodborne illness caused by Listeria bacteria claimed the lives of 20 people and resulted in one of the largest recalls of food products in Canadian history. The subsequent investigation traced the bacteria to meat slicing equipment.

Disease-causing bacteria can grow on equipment and utensils when they are not properly cleaned and sanitized. Listeria bacteria are particularly difficult to control because they multiply in cold temperatures, where other bacteria do not.

Clean and sanitize meat slicers to prevent the spread of bacteria

Clean and sanitize meat slicers used at room temperature at least every four hours to help prevent the growth of disease-causing bacteria like Listeria.

Cleaning is the removal of visible food debris, grease and other materials. This may require the use of physical energy (scrubbing), heat or chemicals.

To sanitize means to treat by a process in which bacteria are destroyed to a safe level. This is done with chemicals meant for use around food, or with heat (hot water at 77ºC or 171ºF).

How to clean and sanitize meat slicers

Meat slicers are dangerous machines to use and to clean. Always follow your workplace safety procedures when using or cleaning equipment and when working with chemical sanitizers. The following suggested steps are not meant to replace the manufacturer’s or your workplace’s approved policies and procedures.

  1. Unplug the machine (use a lockout box where necessary)
  2. Set blade control at zero
  3. Wear safety gloves when cleaning blade
  4. Remove excess food waste by wiping or pre-rinsing
  5. Disassemble the machine
  6. Use hot detergent solution to clean machine surfaces
  7. Rinse to remove loose food waste, grease and detergent
  8. Sanitize machine surfaces with a 45ºC (113ºF) solution of – follow the sanitizer directions for mixing
    1. chlorine (100 to 200 mg/L; or 4 to 8 mL of 5.25% bleach per litre of water)
    2. quaternary ammonium (up to 200 mg/L)
    3. iodine (up to 25 mg/L)
  9. Allow to air dry, if possible, otherwise use clean paper towels
  10. Reassemble machine and cover when not in use

Does Toronto Public Health allow the public the use their own containers at food premises?

Food premises set their own policy regarding customer/client supplied containers. They may decide to encourage or ban the practice, and this can be entirely their decision. Any policy that is decided on must not conflict with the Food Premises Regulations. Particular care must be used in addressing overfilling and spill situations.

What if I’d like to use my own container and the premises will not accommodate me?

Toronto Public Health has no role on any retailer’s decision in this area. Some retailers ban the practice due to perceived liability from improperly sanitized containers being reused.

What about Child Care Centres: Can they discourage customer supplied containers?

Child Care Centres must have written, site-specific policies. This policy may include any condition which does not conflict with the Food Premises Regulations. Particular care must be used in addressing overfilling and spill situations. Child Care Centres must have utensils available if employing a “bring your own container” policy.

Are there any regulations surrounding this practice?

As per the Food Premises Regulation, premises and people using their own containers must be aware of sections addressing spills and cross-contamination:

8. (1) All equipment, utensils and multi-service articles that are used for the preparation, processing, packaging, serving, transportation, manufacture, handling, sale, offer for sale or display of food in a food premise shall be:

(a) of sound and tight construction;

(b) kept in good repair;

(c) of such form and material that it can be readily cleaned and sanitized; and

(d) suitable for their intended purpose.


8. (2) Equipment and utensils that come into direct contact with food shall be:

(a) corrosion-resistant and non-toxic; and

(b) free from cracks, crevices and open seams.


26. (1) All food shall be protected from contamination and adulteration.