Re: Chlorine bleach rinse
From: Kay Argyle (argylemines.utah.edu)
Date: Fri, 19 May 2000 14:24:47 -0600 (MDT)
The most recent offense against hygiene that set my room-mate to moaning
again about the need for food-handling classes was a baby being brought
into the kitchen, and the cook and assistants not washing up again after
cuddling her.

I agree, first get people to do the things that accomplish the most with
the least effort and cost, like hand-washing.  

Our commercial dishwasher (Hobart?) does a 190°F rinse.  There are bacteria
capable of surviving in boiling water (212°F).  (Fortunately most bacteria
that prey on humans aren't thermophilic.)

"Water at 150°F will cause a third degree burn (full thickness burn
requiring hospitalization and skin grafts) in just half a second."
-- http://www.safeshower.com/anti.htm

One thing hot water accomplishes is that, especially in conjunction with
detergent, it increases the solubility of food residue, such as grease,
leaving a surface which, while not sterile, is at least not actively
hospitable to bacteria.

You have to balance risks.  Anything you do to reduce a risk has risks of
its own.

If the preventative is not being used effectively (like if a brief swish in
dilute chlorine solution doesn't allow time for the chlorine to act), you
may be *increasing* your overall risk by adding the risk caused by the
preventative without subtracting the risk you are trying to moderate.

People tend to overestimate risks that are hard to assess, new, or not
under their own control, and to underestimate risks that are common.   They
overestimate whatever risk du jour the media is currently wide-eyed about. 
Chlorine causes subtle damage in ways that are only recently being
recognized and is used by big for-profit companies who only listen to
objections that it harms the environment or the local population if fines
or lousy PR start affecting their bottom line.  So we're all frightened
about chlorine.

Food poisoning is ho-hum -- I bend the rules all the time, once in a while
something I've eaten "disagrees with me," yet I'm still alive, it can't be
a big risk, right?  Nonetheless, there is evidence for greater mortality
from food poisoning than from chlorine.  So do you want to (maybe) die from
chlorine toxicity twenty years from now or (maybe) food poisoning next
year?

(I'm no fan of chlorine myself, but I do think it's better than a lot of
the alternatives, such as E. coli number-whatever, hepatitis C, or
cholera.)

This discussion seems to be equating BLEACH = CHLORINE BLEACH.  Where does
oxygen bleach fit into this?  Does it kill bacteria as effectively as
chlorine?  What are its environmental effects?  What about a
vinegar-peroxide rinse?

I do appreciate the people who have actual knowledge of regulations,
chemistry, bacteriology, etc., speaking up and giving us some facts to chew
on, instead of opinions and fears and half-understood reports of scientific
studies.

Kay
Wasatch Commons

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