Quat binding is a concern for anyone working in custodial services, but it may be most critical in foodservice areas. While there has been a spotlight placed on the problem in healthcare, quat binding in foodservice remains center stage.

“Fifty percent of the foodservice industry uses cotton rental towels or bar towels,” says Tara Millar, product manager at ITW Pro Brands in Olathe, Kansas. “Some larger chains know about the quat depletion issue, but most are still in the dark.”

Awareness needs to grow, she adds, given the seriousness of quat binding for an industry where health is a top concern.

“Foodservice facility operators should care about this issue because one out of every six people gets sick from eating contaminated food, and 3,000 people die each year from foodborne illnesses,” says Millar. “It could cost a facility up to $75,000 per outbreak. Plus, they are throwing money out the window on chemicals because they are not being used properly.”

While there are government regulations that require pH testing of chemicals in the foodservice industry, that has no real impact on quat binding.

“Testing the pH of chemicals and testing the available ppm of active ingredients in a quat are two totally different animals,” Millar says. “The tests are for two different qualities.”
Workers in restaurants, cafeterias, or break rooms should follow the same policies and procedures to avoid quat binding as they use in other areas of the facility. Choosing non-quat products or switching to microfiber or micro denier textiles is critical.

“There is an education curve, and there needs to be a thought shift on how to sanitize effectively and properly,” says Millar.

BECKY MOLLENKAMP is a freelance writer based in St. Louis, Missouri.

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Tips To Preventing Quat Absorption