A Food and Drug Administration (FDA) advisory committee approved a statement that antibacterial products are no better at preventing illness than regular soap. Along with this decision, public interest-groups, led by Beyond Pesticides, Washington D.C., petitioned the FDA to ban products containing triclosan, including hand soaps and cleaning products, arguing that long-term use of triclosan could lead to drug-resistant bacteria.

However, according the Soap and Detergent Association (SDA), research proves that antibacterial products do reduce or eliminate bacteria that can lead to commonly transmitted disease more effectively than regular soap. The SDA also points out that while laboratory studies have suggested a link between antibacterial products and bacterial resistance, there is no real-world evidence to support this claim.

The public-interest groups are also concerned because triclosan does not degrade, even after going through sewage treatment plants. Also, the Environmental Protection Agency suspects that dioxin is a byproduct of triclosan. After enough exposure, dioxin can cause cancer, birth defects, miscarriages and weakened immune systems, according to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

The FDA is currently evaluating the information regarding triclosan and is not making a decision regarding a ban at this time.

Examining School Surfaces

Building service contractors may not be ridding their educational accounts of all pathogens. The independent, not-for-profit organization NSF International collected and tested samples from common school surfaces and found as many as 2.7 million bacterial cells per square inch on surfaces such as drinking fountains, desks, computer keyboards, bus seats and cafeteria trays.

Areas most commonly suspected, such as toilet seats and door handles, actually had fewer organisms because they were cleaned and disinfected more often, says Rob Donofrio, director of the microbiology and molecular biology for NSF in a news release. Drinking-fountain spigots had the most bacteria; additionally, cafeteria trays were found to have more than 10 times as many germs as a toilet seat. Routinely cleaning and disinfecting these surfaces can reduce the potential for cross-contamination.

Letter To The Editor

What happens in Vegas stays in Vegas — not this time. After attending the 2005 ISSA/INTERCLEAN® convention, I took extra time to enjoy the things Las Vegas has to offer. What I found had nothing to do with gambling, but with the apparent “we don’t care” attitude of off-strip restaurants, hotels/motels and housekeeping/custodial staff.

While conditions were mostly acceptable, it was clear to me that to the management of the restaurants and hotel/motels I frequented, quality work was not high on their list of services. One restaurant where I ate breakfast on two different days had black, red-clay tile in the waitress area and ketchup on a faucet over their service area. It was evident that the men’s room only received a paper-products refill over two days, as pieces of toilet paper, 10 to 15 sheets long, still hung from the inside of the stall. While it was nice to see the manager’s picture on the wall, his phone number and that of his district supervisor, welcoming guests, one has to wonder what they are spending their time on and how their kitchen looks.
Where does this take us? To management that does not care about cleanliness? To supervision that does not comprehend what clean means? It is said that when the entire area goes to ... that the line staff is not to blame, management is.

The majority of the cleaning I observed was completed by in-house staff. What I saw showed that the staff was able to cut corners daily. This brings up the question: Was supervision lazy and unresponsive, or did it just suffer from a lack of education on how to clean?

This lack of concern for proper cleaning can not be tolerated by building service contractors. Our livelihood depends on our knowledge and acquired skills to deliver quality service. So why is it that in-house staff can care so little about quality cleaning? Because to them, “it’s just a job.”

What causes a management/supervision team to overlook toilet paper stuck to a stall door for two days? Why are tile floors in the waitress area visibly black with sticky, oily dirt, or a continental-breakfast area floor not properly mopped/scrubbed in six days? Because to them, “it’s just a job.”

With any luck, the corporate offices of many nationally known restaurants and hotel/motel companies will read this article and take heed: Look over their franchises, send inspectors to review their housekeeping practices and insist on uniformity for housekeeping services and institute high quality housekeeping practices across the board.

After all, comprehensive quality housekeeping service completed by professionals who are proud of their work know that what they do is more than “just a job.” It is a profession, their profession.

Lawrence G. Lauer
Custodial Instructive Services
Wauwatosa, Wis.

Industry Accolades
  • Newton, Mass.-based UNICCO® Service Co. has received the Ashkin Green Cleaning Champion Award from the Ashkin Group LLC, Bloomington, Ind., in recognition of its UNICCO GreenClean green services initiatives, which include revamped standard operating procedures and training to embrace green cleaning techniques, and the resource Web site.

  • Jamie Van Vuren, president of Bee Line Building Service Supply, Schaumburg, Ill., received a “Today’s Young Executives” award from The Business Ledger newspaper in Oak Brook, Ill.

  • Broadcast News Corp., Addison, Texas, has presented ISSA/INTERCLEAN®, Lincolnwood, Ill., with a Global Trades Award, recognizing it as one of the leading trade shows in the United States. The show’s status as an award recipient allowed all show exhibitors to compete for a Global Trades Award based on overall corporate strategies and values. The nine winners were Betco Corp., Toledo, Ohio; Intellibot Robotics, Richmond, Va.; JohnsonDiversey, Sturtevant., Wis.; Milazzo Industries, Pittston, Penn.; Nilfisk-Advance, Plymouth, Minn.; Permanent Solutions Industries Inc., Alexandria, Va.; Procter & Gamble, Cincinnati; Rimrock Technologies, Billings, Mont.; and Winters Janitorial, Lees Summit, Mo.