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Opinion: Hypochlorous acid – Elevating food safety with safer, eco-friendly sanitisation
FoodBev Media

FoodBev Media

23 February 2024

Opinion: Hypochlorous acid – Elevating food safety with safer, eco-friendly sanitisation

From escalating cases of contagious illnesses to staffing shortages and tainted produce incidents, safety remains paramount. Enter hypochlorous acid (HOCl): a highly effective, eco-friendly solution offering proven pathogen-fighting power while meeting regulatory standards. As its adoption surges across sectors, 2024 marks a pivotal year for HOCl, poised to become the preferred sanitation choice for businesses prioritising safety and sustainability. Morten Larsen, CEO of EcoloxTech, and Francine L Shaw, founder of Savvy Food Safety, address pressing industry challenges. Food and beverage manufacturers must prioritise safety, taking every precaution to minimise risks. They should always follow the strictest protocols and enforce best practice procedures to maximise safety, quality and compliance – even on the busiest days, when short-staffed, or when facing other issues. Currently, food and beverage businesses are facing multiple, simultaneous challenges, including:

  1. Cases of Covid-19, influenza, RSV and other contagious illnesses are increasing and spreading rapidly.

  2. Norovirus outbreaks, also highly contagious, are more common in the winter and are frequently linked to foodservice settings. The source of these outbreaks is often infected workers who don’t follow proper handwashing protocols, spreading the pathogens via surfaces, equipment and food to colleagues and customers.

  3. Fresh produce has been linked to more foodborne illnesses than any other food variety. Lately, there have been unfortunate instances of contaminated produce causing illness and, tragically, even fatalities, prompting extensive product recalls spanning multiple states.

  4. Staffing shortages mean many F&B businesses are trying to make do with fewer employees. Being short-staffed can sometimes lead to busy employees taking shortcuts and skipping important steps in safety and quality protocols – like failing to properly wash produce, equipment or surfaces, which could lead to foodborne safety outbreaks. Hypochlorous acid (HOCl) – a safe, highly effective sanitiser and disinfectant – can help F&B businesses elevate their safety efforts and combat these pressing challenges. Increasingly, foodservice brands are relying on HOCl to keep their foods, customers employees and businesses safer. HOCl allows businesses to disinfect effectively, sustainably and responsibly, elevating their food safety efforts and minimising foodborne illness outbreaks and risks. HOCl is becoming more widely known (and used) in a variety of industries – including foodservice, hospitality, healthcare, travel and tourism, and more – because of its effectiveness in killing bacteria, viruses and other pathogens.



Main benefits of HOCIHighly effective HOCl is 80-100 times more potent than bleach and is extremely effective at killing harmful pathogens, including some (like MRSA) that may be resistant to traditional sanitisers. HOCl has been proven to kill common foodborne pathogens like E. coli, salmonella and listeria, as well as MRSA, Covid-19, influenza, RSV and norovirus. Disinfecting and sanitising foods and surfaces with HOCl can help prevent the spread of these pathogens. Importantly, HOCl serves as an effective 'kill step' in reducing or eliminating microbial risks on produce – a critical advantage, particularly given the recent surge in foodborne illness outbreaks linked to produce. Pre-washing and sanitising produce with HOCl effectively removes dirt, faeces and other contaminants. Implementing a 'kill step' with stringent controls is essential to mitigate microbial risks associated with produce before consumption. This step ensures the elimination of microbial pathogens attached to the produce or present in the wash water, thereby preventing cross-contamination prior to preparation and serving. Leveraging HOCl as a safe, reliable, and efficient sanitiser in this 'kill step' capacity can significantly reduce the likelihood of future outbreaks stemming from contaminated produce HOCl complies with regulations from authoritative bodies such as the CDC, FDA and EPA. This ensures that businesses can confidently use HOCl, knowing it meets stringent safety and quality guidelines set forth by these US governing bodies. Safe and eco-friendly HOCl is non-toxic, chemical-free and safe to use on surfaces, equipment and food. While other sanitisers may leave harmful residues, HOCl breaks down into simple saltwater after use, posing no risk to consumers, employees or the environment. These products allow organisations to maintain the highest standards of cleanliness and hygiene while minimising the impact on the planet. Because HOCl is non-toxic, it eliminates the risks for respiratory issues, unlike other sanitisers, like ozone, which can be hazardous to human health if inhaled in significant quantities.


Versatile, efficient and easy to handle: HOCl is odourless and tasteless and can be used in various applications on food, surfaces and equipment. It can be used as a dip wash, spray and fog. It is generally safer and easier to handle than other types of sanitisers and disinfectants. While there’s no specialised equipment required, reputable manufacturers and proper training are essential. Also, HOCl has a longer shelf life than other types of sanitisers. Since HOCl is rinse-free, it saves time, effort and water – a significant advantage for food businesses, where speed and efficiency are crucial.


Expect to see HOCl become more widely used in the F&B sector – among other industries – because of its effectiveness in killing bacteria, viruses, and other pathogens, and its compliance with CDC, FDA and EPA regulations.


Due to its safety and effectiveness, HOCl is expected to gain a more significant following in 2024 and beyond. And for good reason – HOCl allows businesses to sanitise and disinfect more powerfully than bleach, in a way that’s proven to kill even the toughest pathogens, yet it’s safe for humans, foods, and the environment. Why wouldn’t you choose the safer, more effective, eco-friendly option for your business?

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