The importance of hygiene in a post-Covid-19 world cannot be understated, and relaying your cleaning protocols to customers will be vital to gain their confidence. Angela Frewin discovers the best products and practices to adopt.
Hygiene – always a central plank to the catering and hospitality experience – has been propelled to centre stage by the drive to curb Covid-19 transmission routes. Enhanced and visible hygiene protocols are also key to attracting jittery customers back when the latest lockdown eases and, points out Filta Group commercial director Edward Palin, "to reduce the risk of closure due to local outbreaks or changing tiers".
Wrapmaster revealed that 71% of consumers surveyed last June would check hygiene standards online or with operators before booking a table, while a Kimberly-Clarke Professional survey found just 11% felt confident about restaurant hygiene.
"Only foodservice businesses that win the confidence of their employees and customers will thrive and from this research it is clear that hygiene is now top of the agenda," observes Olena Neznal, vice-president EMEA at workplace hygiene specialist Kimberly-Clarke. "Many of our customers now need to think in a different way about what, how and how often they clean, to keep people safe."
The new normal
Kimberly-Clarke's new 360° Hygiene & Protection programme includes a free ‘virtual hygiene walk' to help venues review and identify hygiene hotspots, along with guidance on implementing and communicating hygiene protocols to staff and guests.
As the virus spreads via infected persons, contaminated surfaces and air, anti-Covid strategies include social distancing (marked by signs, retractable barriers or floor mats), face coverings, screens, gloves, air purification and an elevated focus on washing and sanitising hands and surfaces to both clean them and kill pathogens.
Providing hand sanitiser for staff and guests is an essential confidence-booster. Lynne Snoding, UK and Ireland sector marketing manager for foodservice/contract catering at Diversey, recommends placing them at entrances and exits, reception desks, toilets, between kitchens and dining rooms and, ideally, on each dining table, with perhaps smaller personal bottles for staff.
New touch hotspots need to be prioritised in the cleaning schedule – the lengthy list ranges from general door handles, light switches, stair banisters and toilet seats to catering equipment, taps, food prep counters, self- service cabinet doors, tills and card machines. Tables, chairs, trays and water jugs should be cleaned between covers in high-visibility dining areas, where Snoding recommends disposable menus and single-use condiments to ease the load.
Tork's observation that operators are increasingly switching from air dryers to paper hand towels in washrooms supports its research findings that 35% of customers feel unsafe with air dryers and 59% would prefer paper towels. "Unlike paper hand towels, jet air dryers produce more airborne droplets, which increases the risk of bacteria spread in the air," explains foodservice marketing director Hanneke Kuipers. "The friction from drying hands with paper towels also helps to remove more bacteria than other drying options."
With studies naming incorrectly cleaned dining tables as the fifth dirtiest place in a restaurant (ahead of toilet door handles and taps), chemical specialist Christeyns believes fresh table linen can be five times cleaner than bare surfaces. "Nothing says clean more than pristine, white table linen," says operations director Justin Kerslake.
Tools of the trade
Choose cleaning products that meet food safety and infection prevention standards – especially the EN14476 virucidal standard, which is effective against the SARS-CoV-2 virus, advises Snoding at Diversey, which has launched two enhanced Pro Formula Cif disinfectant sprays for everyday cleaning. The HACCP-approved Cif 4in1 Washroom Cleaner (combining disinfectant, detergent, descaler and deodoriser) and Cif Alcohol Plus surface disinfectant both conform to EN14476 virucidal and EN1276 bactericidal standards, killing more than 99% of viruses, bacteria, yeasts and fungi.
Two Flash spray products from P&G Professional – the Disinfecting Multi-Surface Cleaner and the Disinfecting Degreaser – have just been independently proved to be Covid-19 killers, disinfecting to EN1276, EN13697, EN14476 and EN1650 standards.
Hospital-grade hygiene (with displayable certificates) is the promise of two new initiatives. Cleaner Products' fogging service across London and the south-east uses its new Virubac surface disinfectant, the NHS's lead fogging product. Recent research shows Virubac, available as a spray and pre-dosed wipes, has a 48-hour residual kill rate on inanimate non-porous food contact hard surfaces.
Filta Group, meanwhile, has partnered with NHS-owned NTH Solutions to train and equip operators' staff to deep-clean premises to hospital standards. Its eco-friendly disinfectant kills 99.9999% of known hospital-associated infections without needing extensive PPE or the ‘kill' or ‘wait time' more toxic chemicals demand.
Increased interest in Hillbrush's colour-coded, food-safe polypropylene hand scrub, deck scrub and sweeping brushes suggests food prep-level cross-contamination protocols are extending to cleaning tools. "At a basic level, the same equipment should not be used to clean surfaces in contact with food as for cleaning the floor," advises head of marketing David Hagelthorn.
Curiously, research by Rentokil Initial found that while 51% of Britons fear catching the virus from other people, only 22% worry about contaminated air. It distributes an air purification solution called VirusKiller (created in response to the 2003 SARS outbreak), which traps and kills 99.9999% of airborne viruses, bacteria and fungi with a single air pass.
The patented ultraviolet-C (UV-C) lamps produce disinfecting hydroxyl radicals that deactivate microbes' reproductive processes, explains technical and innovation manager Jamie Woodhall. Other solutions include handheld UV lamps (ideal for sensitive electrical equipment) and electrostatic disinfection that adds an electric charge to sprayed disinfectant droplets.
CleanAir Spaces' active virus-killing disinfection system can be fitted to existing ducts or used as a standalone unit. "Our ductFIT technology treats indoor air and surfaces by producing active ions of hydrogen peroxide which circulate continuously and actively to remove pollutants, viruses, bacteria and other pathogens," says chief executive Pablo Fernandez. Used by the likes of Burger King and IHG hotels, it is involved in a pilot project for the ‘Immune Buildings' certification at offices in Bucharest, Romania.
Health and safety and food safety compliance software such as Food Alert's cloud-based Alert65 can streamline the creation of clean, Covid-compliant premises, says technical director Julia Wilson. Its centralised digital storage of detailed hygiene policy and compliance documents can be accessed from multiple locations and includes HACCP templates, hygiene checklists and schedules (with real-time monitoring of staff compliance) plus records of the staff training which are essential to make hygiene policies work.
Visability and communication of infection prevention measures remain key to reassuring customers and Snoding suggests highlighting them via websites and booking systems. Many suppliers offer communication tools such as downloadable posters via new, online coronavirus-related information hubs.
Being seen to clean frequently and displaying cleaning checklists shows customers you take their health and safety seriously, concludes Wilson at Food Alert: "‘Never judge a book by its cover' simply doesn't wash when it comes to hospitality – in hospitality first impressions always count and never more so since Covid-19."
How to communicate that you're Covid-safe
Research conducted by Harris Interactive for Kimberly-Clarke Professional unearths heightened consumer attitudes to cleanliness and hygiene in dine-in restaurants, cafés, pubs and bars and hotels.
- 80% of consumers are more aware of hygiene practices outside the home.
- Just 46% felt safe visiting a restaurant. Only 11% were confident with restaurant hygiene levels.
- 86% would avoid locations they did not consider Covid-secure.
Consumers were most worried about kitchens (69%) and restaurant toilets (62%). A venue's washroom condition was viewed as a reflection of overall hygiene standards (76%) and how much it cares about its customers (78%).
Factors that would reassure customers a restaurant is Covid-safe include:
- Touchless taps (73%) and touchless automatic doors (59%) in washrooms
- Social distancing enforcement (68%)
- Hand sanitiser at key points (65%)
- Hygienic hand washing and toilet facilities (64%)
- Clean washroom (61%)
- Clearly communicated cleaning and disinfecting procedures (57%)
- Employees visibly cleaning (56%).
Kitchen safety wrap
Wrapmaster launched food safety hub Wrapsafe to keep chefs and kitchens safe, including advice from Covid-19 food standard experts Safer Food Scores. Top tips include:
- Use social distancing, staggered shifts, screening, face masks, gloves and regular hand-washing in
- food prep areas.
- Clean equipment before, during and after service.
- Use sanitiser spray for spillages and hand-contact points such as oven doors, fridges, taps and shared kit.
- Use dishwasher-proof equipment
- Put away portable equipment when not in use.
- Reduce sharing and moving items from station to station.
Adrian Brown, managing director at Wrapmaster's owner Cofresco Foodservice, also suggests keeping food covered wherever possible, adding that its dishwasher-safe foil, film and baking parchment dispensers are more hygienic than absorbent cardboard-based cutters that can harbour germs for up to 24 hours.
Filta's fever-screening ThermoGuard cameras catch potentially infected staff and customers as they enter by detecting elevated skin-surface temperatures. The standalone models screen one person every two seconds (Solo) or 30 per second (Hi-Flow).
SaferMask is billed as the UK's highest-specification, most cost-effective non-medical mask. The brandable mask can be worn and washed for 30 days and its three cotton layers are accredited for anti-bacterial and water repellent properties.
Activated by a hand wave, Electronic Temperature Instruments' new wall-mounted TimeWash reinforces thorough hand-washing via an LCD display countdown with an audible completion alarm. Eight pre-set times range from 20 seconds to 10 minutes.
Kimberly-Clarke Professional's fully enclosed WypAll Reach Centrefeed wiping sheet dispenser provides a safer portable or wall-mounted alternative to loose centrefeed blue rolls that can be handled by multiple users up to 70 times before they are finished.
Gloved by Tom Daxon's new anti-bacterial hand sanitiser contains cedarwood oil and alcohol enriched with lime, juniper, angelica and iris, hydrating squalane from olive oil and hyaluronic acid.
Electronic Temperature Instrumentswww.thermometer.co.uk
Gloved by Tom Daxonwww.gloved.co.uk
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