September is National Food Safety Month, a month established in 1994 by the National Restaurant Association Educational Foundation (NRAEF) to focus on food safety education. Each year in the United States, approximately 1 in 6 people will get a foodborne illness. This translates to approximately 48 million people. Globally, that number expands to approximately 600 million people with 420,000 deaths attributed to foodborne illnesses.
A study by the CDC found that more than 80% of foodborne outbreaks involved food that was prepared in a commercial setting, such as a restaurant or deli. Therefore, it is critical that restaurants have access to the latest information and strategies for effectively dealing with bacteria and viruses.
While personal hygiene of food service workers and proper preparation and storage of food is critical, we want to share with you tips on how the latest in UV disinfection can help restaurants with food safety.
#1: UV Light Can Sanitize Food Contact Surfaces
One of the most critical surfaces to ensure are clean and sanitized are any that come in direct contact with food. They are also one of the most common violations received by restaurants. According to the Florida Department of Business & Professional Regulation, there were 65,119 violations for food service organizations in the state related to food-contact surfaces being clean and sanitized (the highest-ranking violation category).
It can be incredibly difficult to ensure all surfaces have been cleaned properly or there are certain areas that might not be regularly sanitized. Depending on what you are trying to clean, different types of sanitizers or disinfectants are recommended. It is hard to know the right cleaner for each type of situation and to follow all of the guidelines (which are sometimes up to 10 minutes of a surface remaining visible wet with certain chemical disinfectants).
UV light offers an additional layer of protection to ensure germs are killed anywhere the light touches. This is not only insurance against areas that may have been missed during standard cleaning, but also for areas that may not be conducive to being easily disinfected with chemicals.
#2: UV Light Can Tackle Mold & Mildew
A common battle that many restaurants face is the struggle to combat mold and mildew in walk-in freezers. While moisture is mold’s friend, depending on what you store in your walk-in freezer, it might not be possible to keep mold and mildew at bay simply by controlling the humidity level. The walk-in freezer is also a place that may be hard to disinfect regularly from both a time perspective and keeping your food safe from harmful chemicals.
That’s where an installed solution that deploys UV light to disinfect your walk-in refrigerator or freezer comes in. UV germ-killing light installed in your walk-in freezer can safely kill mold and mildew, but it’s also safe for use around food. For over half a century, using UV light in food processing plants has been used to safely and effectively combat foodborne pathogens.
#3: UV Light Can Disinfect Your Ordering and POS Devices
Non-food contact equipment are another common violation category. There were over 40,000 violations in Florida food service establishments in 2016-2017. Therefore, it’s critical to have strategies in place to sanitize all types of surfaces and equipment.
With changing consumer trends, more and more restaurants have started incorporating technology for placing orders or kiosks for patrons to play games or pay their bill. How are these items being cleaned?
UV Light used in the portable germ-killing units from Violet Defense could be positioned each night to help disinfect these types of items without having to worry about harming electronics with chemicals. However, the benefits could go further if you could then incorporate a digital display into those kiosks. Cleanliness and ambiance matter to your customers, so let your patrons know how you are taking cleanliness of everything from kiosk to kitchen seriously.
#4: UV Light Can Automatically Disinfect Your Bathrooms
Many customers will make assumptions about the cleanliness of your kitchen based on the cleanliness of your bathrooms, so this is a great opportunity to leave a positive impression in their mind. Using UV germ-killing light to disinfect bathrooms not only helps better protect staff and customers from potentially harmful germs, you are helping to create a better experience, which is important for customer satisfaction and brand loyalty.
One of the challenges that is posed with keeping places like restrooms clean is that bacteria quickly repopulates. A recent study of germs in public restrooms, found that “within one hour of sterilization, the bathrooms were completely recolonized with microbes.” Once installed, the germ-killing lights from Violet Defense can automatically disinfect a bathroom anytime it’s unoccupied. This technology is already in use in various public settings, including hotel and school bathrooms.
#5: UV Light can Reduce Your Dependence on Chemicals
A great benefit of UV light for disinfection is that it is chemical-free, helping protect your staff, customers, and equipment from the potentially harmful effects of certain chemicals. Use soap and water to clean off dirt and grime from any surfaces, then the UV light can disinfect spaces throughout your restaurant - anywhere the light touches. It has been proven effective at killing up to 99.9% of many of the most harmful foodborne pathogens, including E. Coli, Salmonella, and Norovirus.
It only takes one outbreak to ruin the reputation of a restaurant or force a shutdown costing thousands of dollars (if not more). Disinfecting with UV light can add a layer of protection for you, your staff, and your customers against foodborne illnesses.
Contact us to learn more about how UV light can help with your food safety goals.