DIV18/09: Sustainable Hand Hygiene (26 April 2018)

Issue Date: 26 April 2018
Ref: DIV18/09

Sustainable Hand Hygiene
By Tinaz Ranina, Marketing Lead, Infection Prevention, Diversey, UK & Ireland

 

Although food safety will be a priority, businesses serving food face many other regulatory and market-driven pressures, not least to adopt processes that are more sustainable. Choosing the right kitchen hygiene products can contribute to both areas.

Food safety is always critical. The majority of food-related illnesses are caused by bacteria. According to the Food Standards Agency, campylobacter causes the most cases – over 250,000 a year - of food poisoning in the UK with E.coli and salmonella also affecting large numbers. Each of these causes unnecessary suffering as well as disruption and loss of reputation to any business whose staff or customers become ill. Listeria monocytogenes causes the most food poisoning deaths although the numbers are very small. Around 40% of all food poisoning outbreaks are the result of poor hand hygiene and cross contamination.

The average person’s hands can carry more than 3000 different types of bacteria and about 100,000 can live on each square centimetre of skin. Many of these are completely harmless but just a few of the wrong type can quickly lead to illness. One bacterium can multiply to over four million in eight hours, so it is clear that keeping hands clean is critical to preventing the spread of infections.

We have known this for a long time and all learn as children to wash our hands before eating and after going to the toilet. Despite this it seems many people continue to ignore this most basic act of personal hygiene.

Hand hygiene products for food service need to be effective yet gentle because they will be used frequently during the day. Modern formulations incorporate highly effective biocidal ingredients as well as emollients that help preserve the skin’s natural protective barrier and keep hands soft. They should not include perfumes to avoid tainting food. Leading suppliers offer a choice and are able to recommend the best option for any particular setting.

Another key issue facing food service businesses is to make their operations more sustainable by using less water, energy and cleaning products. There are lots of ways of doing this without compromising the quality of the food or the safety of customers and staff. Replacing conventional cleaning warewashing and laundry products with innovative formulations that are effective at lower temperatures can be a simple first step.

A further option is to replace ready-to-use or traditional bulk products with ultra-concentrates. Used with simple and convenient wall-mounted or portable dosing and dilution control equipment, ultra concentrates support sustainability by enabling safe, simple and consistent high-performance cleaning while minimising wastage, packaging and chemical miles. Products available as ultra-concentrates cover all key kitchen hygiene tasks including hand hygiene.

Recently, cleaning product suppliers have devised novel formulations that utilise environmentally-friendly ingredients to provide further choices to customers who want to demonstrate the highest levels of environmental responsibility. These are typically derived from plant-based renewable resources such as by-products originating from sugar beet, maize and other common foodstuffs. When products like these are available in ultra-concentrate formulations they provide an additional sustainability benefit.

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