The Foodservice and Packaging Institute, an authority on the use of sanitary single-use foodservice packaging, stated in a press release this week that "since flu viruses spread mainly from infected person to person through coughing or sneezing, and thus into the ambient environment and surfaces, it is vitally important for foodservice operators to sanitize, not just their tables and countertops, but also the surfaces of door handles and frames throughout their establishments."
The go-to source of information on this for operators is the distributor.
FPI President John R. Burke, in response to a question from ID Access, noted that Institute's Foodservice Packaging Advisory Council, a forum group comprised of operators, purchasing groups, and distributors, said "operators today are looking to DSRs to be information resource providers, not just order takers. The foodservice business is getting so complex that operators need all the help they can get in the day-to-day management of their operations."
For example, he said, the recent bacterial outbreaks in grocery stores and quick-service operations demonstrate that "operators are, in a very real sense, first responders in the protection of the public's health. If they fail or slip in this important responsibility, they not only lose business, they can, literally, be forced to close their doors."
"So sanitation, both of their food supply and their foodservice facilities, has to be at the top of their daily checklist. And DSRs can help operators meet their sanitation obligations with the sanitation products and product information materials they have to offer," Burke said.
The FPI further observed that while providing a sanitary environment for foodservice customers should be an operating norm, it is "absolutely crucial" for operators to be "sanitary sensitive" at this time of the year. This is especially important in non-commercial foodservice venues that serve vulnerable populations, such as long-term care facilities, day care centers and hospitals, where the spread of infectious disease has its most serious impact, the Institute said.
The FPI listed a few more ways foodservice operators, with the help of distributors, can create a sanitary environment:
Provide single-use foodservice packaging items for food and beverage items. Scientific studies have shown that single-use foodservice packaging products are significantly cleaner than reusables. They offer less opportunity for contamination from careless handling or poor dishwashing.
Ensure that the table or tray that customers eat off of is sanitary by using a paper placemat or tray cover. The use of paper placemats or tray covers provides a more sanitary eating surface than uncovered tabletops or trays. According to a study conducted just this year by the University of Wisconsin, Oshkosh, placemats were shown, on average, to have over seven times fewer bacteria than uncovered tables in restaurants. Similarly, tray covers were shown, on average, to have as much as 23 times fewer bacteria than uncovered trays in hospitals, lodging and long-term care facilities.
Stress the importance of proper hand washing to the entire staff. This means washing hands with soap and water with vigorous rubbing for 20 seconds after sneezing and coughing, after using the restroom, after handling money and before handling or eating food.
For more information on the sanitary benefits of single-use foodservice packaging, go to www.fpi.org.