How to Avoid Health Risks in College and School Cafeterias Due to Improper Sanitizing
October 11, 2018 Leave a Comment
According to the School Nutrition Association, there is an estimated "100,000 schools/institutions serving lunch to over 30 million students." Cafeterias, by their very nature, must be cleaned on a regular basis. While there are food safety and health agencies that oversee any environment where food is prepared and served, these agencies offer very little regulation regarding the cleaners and sanitizers these restaurants and cafeterias use. According to Healthychildren.org, cleaners, sanitizers, and disinfectants are potentially hazardous to children, particularly in concentrated form. As it turns out, many of the cleaning products used by college and school cafeterias come in highly concentrated form, presenting a danger when those chemical cleaning products are introduced into the facility. If we are concerned for the safety of our children, as we surely are, learning how to avoid health risks in college and school cafeterias due to improper sanitizing is the first step.
What is the Difference Between Cleaning and Sanitizing?
While many people think of cleaning and sanitizing as the same thing, they are two different things altogether, although they should go hand in hand. Cleaning is a physical act that involves using cleaning products and other items, such as rags, vacuum cleaners, mops, and brooms, to remove dirt, wipe away spilled food, etc. Cleaning, unfortunately, can vary in its effectiveness, depending upon how well the person doing the cleaning is at this job.
Sanitizing, on the other hand, is the act of making surfaces sanitary, meaning they are safe and free of germs. There are several ways to sanitize, including heat, radiation, and chemical cleaning products. The most common methods in foodservice facilities are heat and chemical cleaning products. The thought process behind the chemically-enhanced cleaning products is simple. The chemicals used in most cleaning products are potent and will kill any bacteria left on a surface. This may be true, but what is the other side of the coin? The chemicals used to sanitize those surfaces are often harmful. Not only do those types of cleaners kill bacteria, but they can be harmful to people, pets, and the environment as well.
How to Clean and Sanitize Properly
Knowing the difference between cleaning and sanitizing isn't enough. Cleaning and sanitizing are both important when it comes to keeping cafeterias safe for the students who use them. It all starts with proper cleaning, both in the kitchen and in the area where food is served and consumed by students.
Before pots, pans, and cooking and eating utensils can be sanitized, they should be washed properly and thoroughly using approved cleaning products. Some chemical products that are acceptable according to the FDA and other governmental health agencies are chlorine, iodine, and quaternary Ammonium.
Once dishes, pots, pans, and utensils have been thoroughly washed, they can be sanitized either by hot water, hot air, or steam. Depending on the method used, temperatures should be between 165 degrees Fahrenheit and 180 degrees Fahrenheit. Items should be exposed to these temperatures for a minimum of 30 seconds.
The cleaning process where the food is served and consumed should be done by a professional staff using approved cleaning products. There is a wide range of cleaners, including detergents, solvents, acidic cleaners, and abrasive cleaners. Choosing the right type of cleaner for the right job and ensuring the cleaning process is more than just cursory, it is essential to properly clean the area prior to sanitizing it.
As you can see, the difference between cleaning and sanitizing is huge. Both steps are essential to good health and hygiene and both should be done properly. Unfortunately, the chemicals that are "approved" for cleaning and sanitizing are not always the best choice. Why? Because in many instances, those chemicals pose mild to serious health threats to people and wildlife, and they can even harm the environment when they are disposed of improperly, as they often are.
Health Concerns with Cleaning and Sanitizing Products
As mentioned earlier, chlorine, iodine, and quaternary ammonium are approved chemical compounds that can be used in sanitizing products. While these chemical compounds are labeled as safe for use in school cafeterias and other institutions, several studies show there can be health risks associated with them. According to a report by NYU School of Medicine
, "Alkyl dimethyl benzyl ammonium chlorides (BACs) are one type of QAC that has been implicated in causing adverse health effects."
Approved cleaning products come in many forms. There are detergents, solvents, acidic cleaners, and abrasive cleaners. Each of these cleaning products come with their own set of safety concerns, ranging from skin irritation and burning eyes to asthma and other breathing issues.
The truth is, we don't even know every chemical inside every cleaning and sanitizing product. The EPA only requires manufacturers of these products to list chemicals of known concern. In fact, under the terms of the Toxic Substances Control Act of 1976, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) cannot require chemical companies to prove their products are safe unless the EPA can prove a particular product actually poses health hazard.
Safe and Effective Ways to Clean and Sanitize
In addition to following guidelines set forth regarding proper sanitizing, there are better, safer ways to ensure we are reducing health risks and keeping a clean, sanitized environment for students. Being aware of the cleaning and sanitizing products we use and ensuring we use the proper methods for cleaning and sanitizing are two important ways we can do this.
At GenEon, we care about your health, about the health of your family and pets, and about the environment. Our cleaning products have low-to-no toxicity, are virtually free of volatile organic compounds (voc), sustainable, and safe for humans, wildlife, and for the environment. Our mission is to bring you better, more effective cleaning, sanitizing, and disinfecting solutions. All of our cleaning and sanitizing products are sustainable, renewable, and virtually toxic-free, so we can say with confidence that they are truly "green" and that we truly help create safer spaces. Our solutions provide all the benefits of traditional cleaners without the excessive expense or the dangers associated with storing and using traditional cleaners and sanitizers.
Our virtually non-toxic cleaners are created by consumers using our on-site generation technology
(OSG). This allows consumers to make only the solutions they need for a specific job, eliminating the need to store chemicals on the premises and cutting down on the amount of waste. On-site-generation on demand GenEon cleaners, sanitizers, and disinfecting solutions start with our proprietary Electrolyte or catalysts, which allows you to harness the power of natural minerals to make the cleaning, sanitizing, degreasing, and disinfecting solutions you need in an environmentally-safe, cost-effective manner. Our Electrolytes
are food-based additives classified by the U.S. FDA as GRAS, meaning Generally Regarded As Safe, so when we say we're safe and eco-friendly, we mean it. Our priority is to bring you products that meet all the requirements of being sustainable, toxic-free, and safe for the environment, not just some of them.
At GenEon, we also bring you the most advanced, effective cleaning technology in the world. The Trio H2Ome and Trio Maxx systems are compact electro-chemical activation systems used with our cleaning catalysts to make the solutions you need. We also bring you advanced delivery systems for our cleaning and sanitizing solutions to ensure proper cleaning and sanitizing is accomplished. For large buildings, schools, work environments, public access areas, and cafeterias, our Mist / bMist
delivery systems are perfect. It's a misting delivery system that ensures even distribution of our proprietary sanitizers and disinfectants over all surfaces and even hard-to-reach areas. Our advanced delivery systems and virtually non-toxic cleaning and sanitizing solutions will save you money, give you peace of mind, and help keep your space clean and sanitized without presenting any harmful after effects.
To find out more about our safer alternative to institutional cleaning, sanitizing, and disinfecting solutions, call us at 866.217.0205
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