As America begins to reopen, it is of extreme importance that we ensure we are properly cleaning and sanitizing as much as possible. This not only helps keep everyone safer, it helps give everyone peace of mind. Safety is essential in the reopening process.
Many Americans have been forced into their homes for the better part of the year. Coming out of our houses and going into the public sector can be scary, especially if we feel we aren’t being properly protected by the places we go.
This sense of security and peace of mind is essential in the food and retail industries. If consumers don’t feel safe at your table or your counter, they won’t patronize your business. As such, retailers and restaurant owners must do what they can to establish a new regimen of safe cleaning and sanitizing so their employees and customers are as safe as possible.
While the Department of Health and Human Services oversees regulations for public health and safety on a national level, through agencies such as the Center for Disease Control (“CDC”) and Food and Drug Administration (“FDA”), restaurants and retails stores will be governed more closely by state health department agencies. State and local health officials will routinely visit retail stores (including those that prepare and serve food) to ensure that safety standards are in place and being adhered to.
What Sanitizing Methods Are Used in Food and Retail?
There are essentially two main types of sanitization: heat, and chemical. There are other methods, but they are not normally used outside of a hospital/medical setting, and usually involve sterilization (the complete eradication of all microorganisms from an object or surface).
Sanitizing involves reducing the bacteria population to a level deemed safe by governing authorities.
Each method of sanitizing involves different methods of use. For instance, there are different ways of using heat for sanitizing, and different methods of chemical usage. However, both methods of sanitizing always follow a proper and thorough cleaning.
Cleaning refers to the removal of surface dirt, grime, grease, and other sediment which can collect on a surface. In order for a surface or object to be properly sanitized, it must be cleaned first. A dirty surface can’t be sanitized, because the sanitizing agent will not penetrate the surface layer of dirt.
Once a surface or object has been cleaned, it is ready for sanitizing by either means of heat or chemical sanitization:
- Heat sanitizing. The use of high temperatures to sanitize spaces and surfaces in retail and restaurants is an easy and usually fast way to sanitize. Most commonly used in restaurants, the most popular methods of using heat for sanitization are dishwashers and microwaves. Dishwashers must reach a temperature of 140 degrees or higher during the final cycle in order to effectively sanitize.
- Chemicals. The use of chemicals is how most sanitizing measures are taken in both retail and food service. The use of chemicals is effective in keeping surfaces and objects free from unhealthy bacteria, germs, and spore levels. This can be something as simple as wiping down a surface with an alcohol-based sanitizing spray, or using a chemical based solution to soak utensils and other items until properly sanitized.
Are There New Guidelines for Sanitizing Due to the Pandemic?
Sanitizers work best in the food and retail industry when a simple three step process is followed: developing a plan for sanitizing, implementing the plan, and maintaining and revising the plan as needed.
A healthy, safe and effective sanitizing system is ever evolving to meet the changing needs of the business.
Because of the COVID-19 pandemic, retailers everywhere have had to review, revise, and remain vigilant of their sanitizing procedures. The CDC and FDA have worked together to revise recommendations for retailers and food service retail as they reopen.
Here’s a look at how the new sanitizing procedure recommendations will work.
- Plan development. For the retail and food industry, review the cleaning and sanitizing plan you have in place and add additional time, manpower, and tools to sanitize surfaces that are frequently touched or on which food preparation occurs.
Determine what type of sanitizing agents you will use. Some spaces will need to be sanitized more frequently, and may require a sanitizing agent that is easy to use and dries quickly. This is important for things like credit card terminals or touch-screen point of sale machines.
Make sure your employees have access to any kind of personal protective equipment they may need for cleaning and sanitizing (such as gloves and/or masks).
- Implement the plan. When it is time to clean and sanitize surfaces, make sure employees are trained on proper techniques and chemical usage. Ensure that surfaces are always cleaned prior to sanitizing. Refer to the EPA’s list of approved disinfecting agents for use on surfaces, and the FDA’s guidance regarding hand sanitizer safety.
- Maintain, revisit, and revise the plan. While we continue to battle the pandemic, there will be the need for not only maintaining proper sanitizing and cleaning plans, but also the need to periodically revisit and revise the plans we’ve developed and implemented. Federal and state governments will have authority over determining how strict business must be.
Your plan will also likely need advising due to availability of certain personal protective equipment and even sanitizing agents. For instance, if you supply hand sanitizer to your employees and maintain a bottle by your register, you may have trouble finding it due to shortages of hand sanitizer.
Sanitizing works best when these steps are followed, and it is important that a food service or retail business be diligent in following these procedures.
How Can I Be a Good Customer As Stores and Restaurants Reopen?
Just as important as it is for the food and retail industries to maintain good sanitizing practices as we begin to reopen, it is important for consumers to be patient, respectable patrons.
There are several ways we can be good customers and help keep stores and restaurants as clean and sanitized as possible when we visit them.
- Be patient and courteous. The business owner and his employees are operating in a situation they’ve never seen before, and they’re doing their best to keep everyone safe. This means their sanitizing efforts may take longer, and in turn cause you to have to wait longer for tables or for check out. Be patient and remember, we are all adjusting to the new normal.
- Practice social distancing and mask usage as mandated by your local government.
- Practice good respiratory hygiene. When you have to cough or sneeze, do so into your elbow. If you cough or sneeze on your hands, wash them immediately.
- Practice good hand hygiene. Washing hands thoroughly and frequently is the most important thing you can do to fight the spread of germs. Hands should be washed with warm water and soap (it does not need to be antibacterial). When you do not have access to soap and water, it’s important to use a hand sanitizer with a formula approved by the World Health Organization.
Both the CDC and World Health Organization have determined that a hand sanitizer is only effective when it contains at least 60% isopropyl alcohol by volume. When a hand sanitizer contains this concentration of alcohol, it is able to kill 99.9% of germs, viruses, and spores.
Additionally, a hand sanitizer spray can be used on other surfaces (like keypad credit card terminals, smartphones, touchscreens, and counter spaces) if it contains at least 70% isopropyl alcohol.
Where Can I Buy Hand Sanitizer?
If you’re concerned you won’t be able to find any hand sanitizer due to the short supply, we’ve got you covered.
Sanitizer.com has a convenient way of making certain you have all the hand sanitizer you need, and nothing more. We even offer our hand sanitizer in a convenient monthly subscription.
- You get the hand sanitizer you need for the month, and nothing more, which means you don’t have to go from store to store and deal with buying limits; you get all the hand sanitizer you need, and nothing more.
- You pay a fair price. We will never price gouge, even when demand rises. Our belief is that effective hand sanitizer should be available to all, at a price that is fair and accessible to all.
- You get an effective, multi-purpose hand sanitizer. Our hand sanitizer contains 80% isopropyl alcohol, which means it is effective on hands and surfaces. We only use isopropyl alcohol, hydrogen peroxide, glycerin, and purified water in our sanitizer, so you can trust our hand sanitizer is safe, effective, yet gentle enough for use on even the smallest hands.
Sanitizers work best in the food and retail industry when they are part of a plan that includes other safe cleaning practices. New regulations will continue to govern how we reopen and properly clean and sanitize spaces, and it’s important we all do our best to cooperate and maintain patience. Using a hand sanitizer can help us do our part as customers to keep our hands clean as we touch public surfaces.
Photo by Artem Beliaikin