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Why You Must Sanitize and disinfect Food & Beverage Facilities During and After COVID-19

It's crossed all of our minds at least once during this Coronavirus quarantine: The "normal" we knew is not the "normal" we'll get to know once we reach the other side of this pandemic. Presently, essential businesses who provide life-sustaining functions, specifically those that fall within the food supply chain, face new challenges in keeping their product, employees, and customers safe when it comes to their cleaning and sanitization procedures. Now, is the time business owners and managers need to establish upgraded sanitization practices to meet immediate and upcoming needs. Businesses including grocery stores, restaurants, breweries, and beverage distribution centers, as well as those that supply food packaging, distribution, and fulfillment now have greater guidance specifically for COVID-19 for maintaining a clean and safe work environment. These are of the utmost importance now and will continue to be as businesses open back up. As customers and employees return they'll not only expect clean facilities, but they'll also be looking for them. Here, we'll discuss how to properly sanitize food service facilities.

What is the Difference Between Cleaning, Sanitizing, and Disinfecting?

It's important to implement infection prevention procedures and distinguish the difference between cleaning, sanitizing, and disinfecting. Knowing how to identify high-risk contamination spots and preparing strategies related to cleaning and sanitizing, based on CDC recommendations, may depend on the type of industry or essential service you are managing. If you work in the food and beverage industry, operate a commercial kitchen, or provide essential food processing and production functions, sanitization and disinfection is critical to maintaining a safe and hygienic environment. To guarantee food safety you need to prevent cross-contamination and microbial contamination.

  1. Cleaning simply refers to the removal of soils from surfaces.
  2. Sanitizing refers to the actual reduction of microorganisms on surfaces.
  3. Disinfecting is the process of killing all the microscopic organisms or bacteria that is published on the label of the disinfectant.

Learn more about best practices and food safety during COVID-19 pandemic.

How to Safely Disinfect Your Food Service Facility

How to properly sanitize food service facilities is often as easy as reading the back of the chemical bottles. Not all sanitizers are the same, and it's not always as simple as a little spray, wipe, walk-away treatment.

  1. Clean First!  If you read the label of most disinfectants it will tell you to clean hard surfaces before attempting to disinfect them.  Soil on the surface tends to trap moisture and germs.  It also interferes with the effectiveness of the disinfectant.
  2. Carefully read the labels and follow the instructions for how each chemical is to be used and how often. Proper dilution ratios mean the difference between effective and ineffective disinfecting. Too much chemical in a solution can be harmful, too little won't do the job.
  3. Pay attention to Dwell Time. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) defines dwell time as, “the amount of time that a sanitizer or disinfectant must be in contact with the surface, and remain wet, in order to achieve the product’s advertised kill rate.” Many sanitizers take at least a few minutes to work to their full potential. Often, sanitizers will need to be left to dwell for at least 10 minutes to be effective, but the appropriate time is unique to each chemical.   
  4. Use Personal Protection Equipment (PPE). Finally, cleaning staff needs to use proper PPE at all times, not just to comply with CDC regulations regarding Coronavirus, but going forward to ensure your facility is able to maintain a high cleaning standard.

Implement Improved Floor & Drain Cleaning and Sanitization Procedures

It's important to note that floors and drains are a commonly overlooked source of actual contamination. Drains, for example, can develop biofilms that store bacteria and microorganisms and coat surfaces. These biofilms become resistant to regular floor and drain cleaning/sanitizing procedures and can, therefore, store bacteria such as Listeria and Salmonella. To prevent cross-contamination into the food and beverage products, it's essential that all employees, and especially maintenance crews, be trained in proper cleaning, sanitizing, and disinfecting procedures.

Whether you have remained open during State mandated, non-essential business closures, or you are preparing a preventative cleaning and sanitation plan for when you reopen your business, you want to maintain the highest standards of cleaning and sanitation protocols to ensure you are killing bacteria and viruses on surfaces and floors.

Clean Hard-to-Reach Floor Spaces

Businesses that perform food supply chain functions are considered “critical infrastructure” and in many cases remain open and are occupied by employees and in some cases the public. This also includes smaller commercial businesses like breweries, restaurants, and grocery stores. All of these contain a staggering number of human-touch surfaces where coronavirus particles can survive, including equipment buttons and handles, utensils, soap and towel dispensers, cabinets, electronic signature pads, delivery vehicles, and more. Even after the front- and back-of-house staff has cleaned and sanitized high-touch surfaces, there is still risk of infectious particles being on the floors around tables, chairs, and display cases, where dirt, grime, and microorganisms find their way. These also need to be identified and disinfected. If a hard surface is relatively clean, many disinfectants are designed to be misted on and just let them dry.  Make sure you wet the surface enough that it stays damp for the required dwell time.

Choose the Right Auto-Scrubbers for Your Facility’s Floor

Reducing the risk of exposure to COVID-19 takes time and effort, so having an efficient and effective preventative cleaning, disinfecting, and sanitizing solution for your food and beverage facility can go a long way in productivity. An auto-scrubber machine from the Bulldog line has the ability to reach tight corners and turns on a dime and are compact, walk-behind floor scrubbers that are easy to operate. Factory Cleaning Equipment has four different models that each excel in different types of essential facilities and we can help you identify which would be the best to assist in your sanitization efforts.

Rent an Auto-Scrubber for Your Food Service Facility

What's great too is that you don't have to buy one outright. FCE has a comprehensive floor scrubber rental program that allows you to get the job done without having to invest much money and without having to store the machine on your premises. For larger food and beverage processing facilities, a more industrial machine would likely be ideal. You may want to consider one of the Factory Cat Sanitation Series MachinesThese industrial machines can tackle tough surfaces but also handle delicate floor surfaces. Many industrial machines are combination sweeper/scrubbers, and some have walk-behind variations of the ride-on models.

If you find yourself looking for guidance about how to properly sanitize food service facilities, you may also be searching for equipment that makes the job easier, faster, and most importantly, effective. Using an auto-scrubber to disinfect floors can support your efforts to maintain a routine preventative cleaning and sanitizing plan.

No one knows how long this pandemic will keep our businesses closed, and the last thing anyone wants is for them to open too early or unprepared. It's never too early, however, to start thinking about establishing new cleaning standards for your facility. Or, if you are currently offering life-sustaining services, finding floor cleaning equipment that can help you to continue operating a safe environment, 

Contact Factory Cleaning Equipment today to talk to an expert about your specific needs. We are happy to train you or your staff on cleaning and sanitizing procedures.  No Charge!

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