Cleaning tips to stop germ spread and cross-contamination

The Nano-Shield two part antimicrobial system consists of a hospital grade quaternary ammonium disinfectant, and a silicone quaternary ammonium salt biocide which will kill 99.99% of microbes, and inhibit their re-growth for up to 90 days on treated surfaces. This makes it a perfect answer for sanitizing tables, menus, condiment bottles, chairs and every other surface in the “front of the house” as well as in the kitchen.

From the January 2015 “Manage my Restaurant” feature in the online newsletter of the NATIONAL RESTAURANT ASSOCIATION.

Cleaning tips to stop germ spread and cross-contamination

Suzanne Cohen, Foodservice Director at SCA AfH Professional Hygiene, shares her insights on cleaning and sanitizing. As an expert in the foodservice segment, Suzanne leads industry specific marketing solutions and strategy development. Her passion is understanding actionable consumer insights that fuel growth. SCA, a global hygiene company and makers of the Tork® brand away-from-home paper products, sponsored National Food Safety Month 2012.

The most important time to impress a customer is when they walk in the front door. Is your restaurant clean? If not, customers may turn around and never come back. Beyond this, what invisible threats may be lurking in a seemingly clean environment? These are issues that can impact the future of your business.

That’s why there needs to be just as much effort spent on cleaning and sanitizing the front of the house as there is in the back of the house. The risks of a poor inspection report from the health inspector, or worse, a cross-contamination incident, are just too high to ignore. A patron contracting a foodborne illness at your establishment can put you out of business.

In the front of the house, surfaces typically touched by patrons should be cleaned with each table turn. Examples include tables, chairs, and menus. Any surface that comes in direct contact with food, such as high chair trays, must also be sanitized.

Here are five steps for properly cleaning and sanitizing surfaces:

  1. Remove food from the surface: Removing food bits and spills before washing the surface will help the cleaner work better. Use a disposable paper towel or disposable cloth that can adequately pick up a majority of the liquid or food particles.
  2. Wash the surface: Washing the surface removes any remaining food or other dirt. Care should be used in choosing the right cleaner as some may damage surfaces. Consider disposable wipes that are chemically treated to keep the wiper fresh by limiting the growth of odor-causing bacteria.
  3. Rinse the surface: Rinsing with water removes the cleaner from the surface. This is important to prepare for the sanitizing step. Any cleaner that remains on a surface may reduce the effectiveness of the sanitizer.
  4. Sanitize the surface: Sanitizing reduces viruses or bacteria that may remain on the surface to safe levels. This step, often overlooked, is crucial as it reduces the risk of cross contamination. The typical tools for sanitizing are quaternary ammonium compounds—or quats for short, and chlorine-based sanitizers. SCA recommends that a foodservice wiper or cloth that helps distribute the sanitizer on the surfaces should also be used. Paper or absorbent cloths are not well-suited for this task, as they will absorb the sanitizer and not allow it to remain on the surface. Disposable wipes designed to pro-long the effectiveness of sanitizing solution are optimal.

Allow the surface to air dry: Air drying seems trivial. However, this is the most important step of sanitizing. In order for a sanitizer to work, it must stay in contact with the surface for a specific amount of time. Allowing the surface to air-dry will ensure it

  1. has enough time to do this. Cross-contamination may also be prevented if the surface is air-dried instead of being towel-dried.

Proper cleaning and sanitizing will help address both the perceived and actual cleanliness of the establishment by patrons, so customers will be happy to walk through your front door time and time again.

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