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COVID-19 Cleaning and Disinfection for Human-Touch Surfaces

Published: April 1, 2020

Revised: April 14, 2020


Food retailers play a critical role in protecting public health, especially during the COVID-19 pandemic. The White House and Department of Homeland Security (DHS) consider the food supply chain as “critical infrastructure” and food industry employees as “essential.” During these extraordinary times, grocery stores must maintain a clean
and sanitary facility to ensure the health and well-being of all customers and employees. Cleaning and sanitation procedures for frequently touched surfaces can help protect customers and employees from COVID-19. While some grocery stores are limiting store hours to thoroughly clean and disinfect their entire store before opening the follow
morning (i.e., deep clean), others are more aggressively cleaning and sanitizing high touch surfaces throughout the day to reduce the risk of transmission. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) provides practical guidance on cleaning and disinfection procedures to control infectious viruses, such as the novel coronavirus (SARS-CoV-2). While coronavirus is not known to be transmitted through food or food packaging, coronavirus particles can survive on common, high-touch
surfaces, such as stainless steel, shopping cart handles or door handles. The CDC recommends routine cleaning and disinfection using EPA-registered disinfectants that
are effective against SARS-CoV-2.

Cleaning and disinfection activities must be:

(1) Validated to ensure effective removal of SARS-CoV-2.

(2) Utilizing EPA-registered antimicrobial chemicals.

(3) Communicated with the local health department.

Human-Touch Surfaces for Food Retail*

*List provided by Ecolab and is not intended to be an exhaustive list.

Back of the House

  • Door handles and push plates
  • Handles of all equipment doors and operating push buttons
  • Handles of the dispensers (beverage, etc.)
  • Ice scoops
  • Walk-in and other refrigerator handles
  • Walk-in refrigerator and freezer plastic curtains
  • Freezer handles
  • 3-compartment sink and mop sink handles
  • Handwash sink handles
  • Soap dispenser push plates at handwash sink
  • Cleaner dispenser push buttons
  • Towel dispenser handle at handwash sink
  • Trash receptacle touch points
  • Cleaning tools
  • Self-service Utensils
  • Buckets
  • Telephone keypad and handset
  • Computers
  • Office cabinet handles and safe handle
  • Microphone and point of sale register
  • Breakroom tables and chairs
  • Display screens on equipment
  • All service area counter surfaces
  • All kitchen/fresh department counter surfaces
  • All stainless steel surfaces

Front of the House

  • Door handles, push plates, thresholds and hand railings
  • Grocery carts and baskets
  • Dining tables and chairs, if still in service
  • Trash receptacle touch points
  • Highchairs, if still in service
  • Front counter
  • Drink and condiment dispensers
  • Display cases
  • Self-service areas, if still in service
  • Point of sale registers/touchscreens
  • Trays
  • Kiosks
  • Sneeze guards


  • Door handles
  • Sink faucets and toilet handles
  • Towel dispenser handle
  • Soap dispenser push plates
  • Baby changing station
  • Trash receptacle touch points

Curbside Pickup and Delivery

  • Pens or other writing utensils
  • Clipboards
  • Electronic signature pads
  • Elevator buttons
  • Door handles
  • Surfaces inside delivery vehicles

Examples of Approved Disinfectants for Retail*

* A full list available here: EPA List N: Disinfectants for Use Against SARS-CoV-2
• Diluted Bleach (Sodium hypochlorite)
• Quaternary Ammonium
• Hydrogen Peroxide
• Peroxyacetic Acid
• Hydrochloric Acid
• Citric Acid
• Alcohol solutions with at least 70% alcohol
Important Information on Disinfectants and Cleaning Agents
(1) Follow manufacturer’s label instructions for application.
(2) Ensure proper ventilation.
(3) Make sure employees are trained appropriately on cleaning and disinfection
(4) Ensure the product is not past its expiration date.
(5) Never mix household bleach with ammonia or any other cleanser.
• CDC: Environmental Cleaning and Disinfection Recommendations – Community
• EPA: Disinfectants for Use Against COVID-19
• CDC: Interim Guidance for Businesses and Employers to Plan and Respond to
Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19), February 2020
• CDC: When and How to Wash Hands
• FDA provides guidance on production of alcohol-based hand sanitizer to help
boost supply, protect public health
• FDA: FAQ on Food Safety and the Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19)
• DOL: OHSA Resources for Workers and Employers on COVID-19
• FMI: Food Industry Best Practices for Current Situation
• FMI: Pandemic Planning and Preparedness Guide
• FMI: Pandemic Preparedness Checklist
• FMI: Cleaning and Sanitation Guide for Food Retail
• FMI: Hepatitis A Information Guide for Food Retail
• FMI: Norovirus Information Guide
• FBIA: Feeding Us COVID-19 Resources for the Food Industry
Model Sanitation Standard Operating Procedure
Cleaning and Disinfection for High-Touch Surfaces
Department: Total Store
Frequency: Every 15 minutes to 2 hours, or as much as necessary to protect customers and
Monitoring: Continuous visual monitoring by all employees
Materials: Personal Protective Equipment (PPE), EPA-registered disinfectants, paper towels,
detergent, trash can, soap and water
Specific Instructions:
1. Wash hands.
2. Put on PPE (disposable gloves, gown and goggles) as necessary
3. Remove or protect ALL packaging, exposed food items, utensils and equipment
from area/surfaces being cleaned and disinfected.
4. Cleaning step: Remove visible debris from all surfaces using soap and water, or
applying a cleaning detergent, prior to disinfection activities. Ensure chemical
detergent is applied according to the manufacturer’s instructions.
5. Disinfection step: Apply EPA-registered disinfectants to cleaned high touch surfaces
according to manufacturer’s recommendations for concentration, contact time,
solution temperature, drying, etc. as required.
6. Discard trash in designated waste receptacle.
7. Clean and sanitize cleaning equipment per its SSOP prior to storage.
8. Store all chemicals and tools in proper location.
9. Discard PPE.
10. Wash hands immediately.
11. Document all cleaning and disinfection tasks performed.
SSOP Manager’s Signature: Date Signed:
Disclaimer: This SSOP is intended to be used as a guide for cleaning and disinfecting
human-touch surfaces; therefore, the materials needed, and specific requirements may
vary depending on the chemicals being used, the areas being cleaned and disinfected
and local jurisdiction requirements.