Hygiene in food preparation - wiping away food risk

16th of July 2019
Hygiene in food preparation - wiping away food risk

James Taylor, marketing director EMEIA – specialties at Berry Global, explores how technologically advanced cleaning materials can help control cross-contamination while improving sustainability in the foodservice sector.

Global awareness about plastic waste is continuously increasing. In addition, there is growing demand for sustainable business practices and products. As such, organisations are forced to take a closer look at their impact on biodiversity and, in the foodservice sector in particular, to address plastic waste across the entire value chain.

Over the past few years, the global foodservice sector has embraced the idea of biodegradable plastic alternatives, and biodegradable and compostable packaging have become increasingly commonplace.

In fact innovation in this area is continuing to reach new heights, with inventive new sustainable products and strategies being designed, piloted and implemented. While this is promising, many organisations don’t seem to realise that simple changes can have a major impact. One area perfect for addressing waste issues and improving sustainability is cleaning.

An ever-present risk

One of the foodservice sector’s biggest challenges is preventing cross-contamination. While there are many potential causes of cross-contamination with bacteria and/or allergens, one of the most common is the use of seemingly clean cloths, which can actually harbour various infectious agents and harmful bacteria.

Like the foodservice sector, the cleaning industry is evolving and developing new and efficient products to not only ensure better hygiene, but to also guarantee better resource and waste management. One such innovation is the development of single-use compostable and biodegradable wipes, which address the issue of cross-contamination without negatively impacting on the environment.

To understand the benefits of biodegradable and compostable wipes, we need to first consider the evolution of products conventionally used.

Traditional tea towels are often used to wipe hands or surfaces; in reality they are only suitable for drying and have no cleaning properties. They are generally made from cotton – according to the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF), it takes more than 20,000 litres of water to produce one kg of cotton – and they are not approved to be in direct contact with food.

Nonwoven wipes, however, are very versatile and suitable for a wide range of cleaning applications. Most nonwoven wipes have Food Contact Clearance (FCC) and are available in multiple colours to support HACCP guidelines and therefore ideal for the foodservice segment. However, wipes are traditionally made from synthetic fibres such as polyester and polypropylene, which can’t be renewed.

Like nonwoven wipes, biodegradable and compostable wipes are FCC approved and thus ideal for the foodservice sector. The difference lies in the fact that they are made from 100 per cent viscose fibres from PEFC certified sources, which are a natural biodegradable fibre with similar characteristics to cotton and are Programme for the Endorsement of Forest Certification (PEFC) certified.

Such wipes are suitable for general purpose cleaning applications such as cleaning tables, utensils and kitchen surfaces. To prevent cross-contamination, they are designed for short-term use.

Sustainability goals

For businesses aiming to be more sustainable, employing disposable, single-use products may seem counterintuitive. But when it comes to cleaning, disposability is key. Best practice advocates the use of single-use products as it can help reduce the risk of cross-contamination.

And single-use products provide consistent, predictable results. The risk of loss of effectiveness through structural breakdown or retention of contaminants – and consequently the risk of cross-contamination – as the result of ineffective laundering is thus eliminated. As they conform to HACCP regulations in terms of colour coding, the risk is further reduced.

Aside from the hygiene benefits, compostable disposable products which come with packaging that is also compostable and biodegradable contribute significantly to environmentally friendly waste management as they are designed to be composted in an industrial composting facility together with food waste. This means there’s no need for sorting and the compostable wipes as well as the packaging can all go together in one bin.

The use of compostable disposables also helps divert more waste from landfills and, more importantly, from wipes ending up in rivers, lakes or the ocean – flushed wipes are a key cause of pipe blockages and pump clogging throughout Europe.



Related Articles

Our Partners

  • ISSA Interclean
  • EFCI
  • EU-nited