Foodborne illness has sickened all of us at some point. Call it what you like – food poisoning, a bad stomach, a stomach bug, a bad oyster, or the runs… they’re all names for the same thing. According to the CDC, foodborne illness affects millions of people annually – approximately 48 million to be exact.
It’s easy to assume an outbreak can’t happen in your facility if you don’t serve or manufacture food. However, this couldn’t be further from the truth. Food poisoning doesn’t just spread through traditional food service establishments like restaurants, factories, or bars.
E. coli and listeria can spread just as easily through a gym, daycare, or office as they can at food processing facilities and eating establishments.
But there’s some good news in all of this. Stopping germs and viruses that cause food-related illnesses from infecting people require just a few simple and consistent practices to ensure they’re removed from surfaces and equipment ASAP.
Keep reading to learn how to kill foodborne illness in 3 easy steps.
HOW FOODBORNE ILLNESS SPREADS
Like most contagious bacteria and viruses, once a pathogen that causes foodborne illness enters your facility, it spreads quickly and easily. Foodborne illness spreads in many ways. Some examples are through:
- Consuming food not cooked to the correct temperature to kill bacteria.
- Eating leftover food that was left out too long or wasn’t stored properly, allowing bacteria to flourish.
- Indulging in food prepared by someone with contaminated hands.
- Sharing food with infected individuals who do not practice good hygiene in a group setting. This includes not washing their hands before eating, not covering their mouth when sneezing or coughing, double-dipping, or using their own utensils to serve themselves from communal trays and plates.
FOODBORNE ILLNESS HOT SPOTS – WHERE TO CLEAN
Any surface or piece of equipment is vulnerable to becoming contaminated by listeria, campylobacter, norovirus, or salmonella. But high-touch areas are at a greater risk, so create a plan focused on disinfecting these areas frequently. Make sure you’re always using an EPA registered disinfectant cleaner, which is proven to kill foodborne illness germs.
Microwave door handles are by far the germiest part of this convenient piece of equipment. In addition to the handles, be sure to wipe keypads and the inside of the microwave where food tends to splash.
Refrigerators Most office refrigerators are filled with moldy forgotten and left behind lunches. Refrigerators pose the greatest risk for foodborne illness in facilities because many different types of food are stored. Also, food tends to spoil in containers, putting other food items at risk.
Counters and Tables
If a contaminated food item comes into contact with a counter or table while someone is cooking or preparing food, it could result in cross-contamination. The next person who uses that same counter or table is at risk for contracting the bacteria.
Cooking & Food Prep Materials
Not cooking your chicken or steak to a safe temperate is a common food-safety mishap. In addition to this, many people don’t disinfect knives, cutting boards, and pans when cooking. After using these items to cook a tasty meal, make sure you disinfect these items with antibacterial dish soap or a disinfectant. Click here to read our list of simple food safety tips.
Small and Large AppliancesYour crockpots, juicers, blenders, toasters, and InstantPots aren’t germ-free. By only cleaning these items and not disinfecting them, microscopic bacteria are able to transfer to other surfaces and even into your food.
HOW TO KILL FOODBORNE ILLNESS
Now that you understand more about foodborne illness and the real threat they pose, it’s time to talk about solutions. Our mission at 2XL is to help you keep your business clean and safe to prevent infection. Here’s our expert advice on how to kill foodborne illness in 3 easy steps.
1. CLEAN THE SURFACE
Cleaning a surface before using a disinfectant to kill germs removes debris and dirt that could cause the formula to be ineffective. Use a wet towel or general cleaning wipe to remove surface-level grime like dust and dirt first.
2. APPLY DISINFECTANT
Sanitizing and disinfecting may sound the same, but they are anything but. Sanitizers only reduce some harmful microorganisms on a surface.
Disinfectants are designed to kill specific types of microorganisms. Always look for an EPA-registered disinfectant that is also NSF Certified. Check the label to confirm that it does kill the bacteria you are concerned about.
After you’ve cleaned the surface, use a disinfectant wipe to destroy pathogens that cause certain types of illnesses. Before choosing a disinfectant wipe, make sure you ask these questions to make sure the product is right for you.
3. LET SIT FOR RECOMMENDED DWELL TIME AND RINSE OFF
Most people don’t realize sanitizers and disinfectants need time to work to kill germs. This is known as the “dwell time“. Generally, a disinfectant takes roughly 10 minutes to work effectively.
Once you’ve applied the disinfectant, let it sit wet on the surface for the dwell time or kill time listed on the label.
SAFE FOOD PRACTICES ARE GOOD FOR YOUR BUSINESS
Your best bet in preventing foodborne illness and outbreaks is to prioritize cleaning and disinfecting, especially where food is prepared, consumed, and shared. Focus on the hot spots listed above to ensure foodborne illness doesn’t creep in your facility at any time.
Follow the tips listed above for maximum protection against food-related germs. To make the process easier, create a cleaning schedule and checklist to organize and keep track of cleaning details.
Doing these things keeps anyone and everyone – including yourself – from getting that awful stomach groaning sound that only food poisoning can cause.