Francine L. Shaw, regular FSR contributor, food safety specialist, podcaster, founder of Savvy Food Safety, and author of “Who Watches the Kitchen?” recently sat down with Morten Larsen, CTO of EcoloxTech, to discuss the many significant benefits of Hypochlorous acid (HOCL) for restaurants and other food businesses.

What are the most important things for restaurant managers and employees to know about HOCL as a disinfectant and sanitizer?

HOCL has been proven to be an extremely effective, safe, versatile, and eco-friendly disinfectant and sanitizer. It allows food businesses to sanitize and disinfect more effectively, sustainably, and responsibly than other options in the marketplace.

Why is it so important for food businesses to use HOCL as a disinfectant and sanitizer?

Every year, 48 million people get sick and 3,000 die from foodborne illness in the United States, yet these food safety breaches are 100 percent preventable. Restaurants and other food businesses must prioritize food safety and work proactively to keep their customers safe. HOCL is instrumental to that effort, reducing or eliminating 99.99 percent of pathogens, including listeria, Salmonella, and E.coli that can contaminate our foods.

Additionally, HOCL can help eliminate influenza, COVID, and norovirus, which are often spread in foodservice settings when employees are careless about hygiene and pass along pathogens from their unwashed hands via surfaces, equipment, and foods.

HOCL is compliant with CDC, FDA, and EPA regulations, so restaurants and other food businesses can feel comfortable using it, knowing that it meets governmental agencies’ strict standards.

Cantaloupe made headlines late last year for a massive salmonella outbreak. Could that foodborne illness outbreakand subsequent multi-state recallhave been avoided if the cantaloupe had gone through a HOCL produce wash before being processed?

Well, fresh produce has, historically, caused more foodborne illnesses than any other food. Pre-washing produce with HOCL gets rid of dirt, feces, and other contaminants that could sicken or kill consumers, and could help reduce or eliminate risks like we saw with the cantaloupe outbreak last year.

HOCL can also help eliminate bacteria and pathogens on the surfaces of meat, poultry, and seafood, which could otherwise accelerate spoilage, decay, and contamination of these perishable foods. This is a game-changer for restaurants because it not only elevates food safety, but it can also help reduce food waste and associated costs.

What are the benefits of HOCL?

HOCL offers many significant benefits. It’s 99.99 percent effective against harmful pathogens, bacteria, viruses, and fungi, including E. coli, Salmonella, and Listeria—common causes of foodborne illness outbreaks. It can also help eliminate highly contagious, easily spreadable influenza, COVID, and norovirus.

HOCL is 80-100x more potent than bleach, yet it’s non-toxic, chemical-free, and safe to use directly on and around food, making it a preferred sanitizer choice for many restaurants, grocery stores, processing facilities, and other food businesses.

It’s very cost-effective, since generating HOCL is between 15-25 cents per gallon, depending on water and electricity costs. The salt costs are insignificant, as they’re about 0.001 cent per gallon. Additionally, HOCL improves products’ shelf life, decreases labor costs, mitigates risks, lowers expenses, and boosts profitability. And since it’s rinse-free, it saves time, effort, and water, offering a significant advantage for restaurants and other food businesses, where speed and efficiency are crucial.

Another huge benefit is its versatility, as it can be used as a dip wash, spray, and fog.

HOCL can be used to disinfect surfaces, equipment and directly on food, as well. HOCL is odorless and tasteless, which is essential for maintaining food quality and characteristics.

For all these reasons, HOCL is quickly becoming the “go to” sanitizer choice in the food industry.

How is HOCL different—and better—than other sanitizers and disinfectants in the marketplace?

HOCL is generally safer and easier to handle than other sanitizers and disinfectants in the marketplace. For instance, HOCL has a longer shelf life than ozone, and doesn’t require specialized equipment like ozone does. Also, while ozone can be hazardous to human health if inhaled in significant quantities, HOCL is non-toxic, eliminating respiratory risks for employees who handle it.

Additionally, when compared to quats, which have been used frequently by food businesses, HOCL offers an improved safety profile and effectiveness against a broader spectrum of pathogens. The growing concerns regarding quat exposure and potential risks associated with their usage have spurred a shift towards safer, more efficient sanitization methods like HOCL.

One of the big advantages about HOCL is its safety and sustainability, right?

Yes, absolutely. HOCL is a safe, sustainable, and eco-friendly choice. Unlike other sanitizers that may leave harmful residues, HOCL breaks down into simple saltwater after use, posing no risk to people, foods, or the environment. Unlike some traditional sanitizers that contain harsh chemicals, HOCL is chemical-free, making it safer for employees handling it, and reducing the chemical contamination risks for food. HOCL is a great choice for sustainable brands that are working to minimize their impact on the planet, yet still want to use a sanitizer that’s truly effective.

Francine L. Shaw is a food safety specialist, podcaster, founder of Savvy Food Safety,  author of “Who Watches the Kitchen?”, and a successful entrepreneur, and speaker who spent 30+ years working in the foodservice industry. Her career has included performing services (operating partner, corporate/private trainer, health inspector, third party inspector, adjunct professor) in various sectors of the foodservice industry. She has written hundreds of articles for national trade magazines and appeared on Dr. Oz, the BBC World Series Radio, and iHeart Radio as a food safety expert.

Morten Larsen is CTO of EcoloxTech, which is leading the way in eco-friendly disinfection solutions, uniquely using Hypochlorous acid (HOCL), a naturally occurring, eco-friendly disinfectant that has gained recognition for its proven effectiveness in killing bacteria, viruses, and other pathogens, including MRSA, E. coli, COVID, Influenza, and Norovirus. EcoloxTech products are effective against 99.99 percent of all pathogens and 80-100 times more effective than bleach, yet are non-toxic, sustainable, and safe for humans, pets, and the environment.  EcoloxTech products are being successfully used in foodservice, cruise ships, hospitals, and more.

Expert Takes, Feature, Food Safety