While E. coli and salmonella were the main concern in the food service industry prior to COVID-19, sanitizers for these easy-to-kill pathogens will simply no longer cut it.
It is prime time for proprietors of restaurants, bars and hotels to adopt new protocols and insist on advanced healthcare-grade products that are safe for food contact surfaces, staff and patrons.
When reviewing products and procedures, the following three measures should be taken into consideration:
Do not just spray and wipe.
Contact time is the amount of time a disinfectant or sanitizer must remain wet on a surface to be effective. Although the CDC recommends users choose products with the shortest possible contact time, most products require 10 minutes to achieve their maximum efficacy.
This means that a six-top table or seat at the bar would need to sit empty for 10 minutes while the surface was kept wet by repeated sprays before being wiped dry for the next customer. Unfortunately, prolonged saturation of disinfectants on surfaces can prematurely fade tables and accelerate the need for replacement.
When considering products, it is important to not only read, but also to understand the labels, and to seek products with the shortest contact time for proper disinfection. This will allow you to seat guests more quickly and, more importantly, do so safely.
Use products safe for food contact surfaces.
During COVID, protocols need to exceed previously accepted sanitation guidelines. Disinfectants, which are stronger than sanitizers, should be used. The maximum contact time should be adhered to, as there are more pathogens than just COVID to contend with in the fight against infectious disease.
Many chemicals used for disinfection and degreasing in food service require an extra rinse step after use on food contact surfaces. Unfortunately, these surfaces are often not rinsed at all, which can cause the transfer of these hazardous chemicals straight to you through food, silverware, or tabletop. As an example, our skin is our largest organ and simply resting your arms on a table that has not been properly rinsed can lead to absorption in your body.
It is now common practice to place masks on these improperly disinfected tables for an extended period while dining. It is important to note that this mask, generally contaminated with residues and germs, is then put directly on our face.
Avoid toxic chemicals that degrade air quality.
Quaternary ammonia, the most common active ingredient in restaurant sanitizers and disinfectants, is a known respiratory irritant. On top of this, companies add additional ingredients so their products have color, suds, and fragrances, creating a slew of harmful, toxic chemicals.
It is not uncommon in the back kitchen for workers to avoid using necessary degreasers, all-purpose cleaners, and sanitizers during open hours because the smell is so harsh it can negatively affect diners’ experience. Sadly, afterhours, these products still negatively affect the restaurant workers long-term health.
In today’s world, it is more important than ever to research new technology and procure hypoallergenic, food-safe products that provide healthcare-grade disinfection to protect your patrons and staff.
About the Author:
Rayne Guest, is founder and CEO of R-Water, a woman-owned business based in San Marcos, Texas. R-Water’s computerized device gives hospitals, hotels, cruise ships, office buildings, restaurants, schools, and other facilities the power to produce cutting-edge cleaning and disinfecting solutions on-site. To learn more about how you can protect yourself against the threat of COVID-19, visit www.r-water.com