With a vaccine finally a reality, and many businesses successfully adapting to the new health and safety-focused climate, the restaurant industry is finally getting back on its feet.
Although the evolution of the industry has largely been a success, proper health and safety knowledge and education remains important, as a slip can still easily spell dire consequences for any restaurant. Thankfully, companies such as GOJO, the creator of Purell and many other common sanitizing and disinfecting products, have taken it upon themselves to make both the products and the knowledge required to use them as accessible as possible.
“Before we get into specific products, you need to have a plan,” said GOJO Food Safety Science Advisor Chip Manuel. “The biggest difference between those who were able to stay afloat and those who sunk when the virus initially hit was that those who survived had already maintained within their business a culture of hygiene and cleanliness. They had already made it clear they held safety in a high regard, and had plans in place to deal with potential problems. These businesses were prepared to evolve because health and safety were not new, foreign concepts to them.” The first step a business must take towards creating a healthier and safer environment is recognizing that safety is just as important as any other part of a business, both for one’s staff and their customers. Learning specific practices is virtually pointless if one isn’t prepared to take the matter seriously.
Once a culture and plan are established, businesses can start getting into the specifics of health and safety practices. A common mistake many people make is conflating cleaning and disinfecting, when in reality, the two are completely different concepts. “Cleaning is the removal of debris and refuse from a surface,” stated Manuel. “Removing these foreign objects greatly increases the efficacy of the disinfectant that is later applied. Disinfecting is the kill step, meaning that this process is the actual application of the solution that kills the pathogens. Failing to clean before disinfecting greatly reduces the likelihood that the disinfectant will do its job.”
Although the two may seem interchangeable, the reality is that although closely related, they are completely separate, integral steps. A business that understands how to properly clean and disinfect has already won half the battle.
“Another common, and even potentially harmful mistake many businesses make is mixing different solutions,” GOJO’s Manuel added. “GOJO products are complex combinations of chemicals designed to do an excellent job as is. Mixing them is not only unnecessary, but also dangerous, as many of them can have negative reactions when combined. Concentrated Bleach for example, a common household disinfectant, can react very negatively with other common solutions like de-scaling fluid, in this case creating toxic chlorine gas.” A proper respect for tools like these is particularly important, as not only does improper use make them ineffective when it comes to killing pathogens, it can actually create an entirely new level of danger.
On a similar note, reading labels thoroughly and understanding how a product works and how to use it is just as important. “Every label is approved at both the federal and state levels,” said Manuel. “This means that the information on these labels is proven to be precise and tested, therefore warranting close adherence. These labels will often detail proper precautions that need to be taken to handle the product, its intended uses, and its dwell time.” Failing to adhere to any of these guidelines could result in injury or ineffectiveness, so it is important to keep labels on products, not swap the solutions into unmarked containers, and to always read the label before use.
Lastly, one should never use a product for anything except its outlined, intended use. “At GOJO, we offer many incredible hand sanitizers, which as you might expect, do a great job of disinfecting one’s hands. These products however aren’t designed for other tasks, such as cleaning a cutting board for example. In this case the sanitizer residue might remain on the board, and contaminate the next food product that comes into contact with it. In this case, the proper course of action would be to separately purchase a GOJO cutting board disinfectant that’s specifically designed for the job.”
Using products in unintended ways can also lead to cross contamination, creating yet another unnecessary health hazard. GOJO eliminates this risk by covering nearly every base with their wide array of sanitation products.
Although integrating these practices and properly utilizing the knowledge and products businesses like GOJO offer can seem like a tall order, doing so isn’t a question of convenience. Creating a health and safety culture isn’t an option or a luxury. In this current climate, it’s simply mandatory. Failing to do so not only puts your business at risk, it puts your employees and customers at risk as well. One’s regard for health and safety is indicative of their regard for those who frequent the business.
For over 75 years, GOJO has worked hard to provide all the tools and resources one could need to maintain a safe business. They don’t plan on stopping there however and are prepared now more than ever to continue providing solutions for any restaurant or foodservice professionals looking to take their health and safety operation to the next level.
To learn more about GOJO for foodservice, visit their website