A Boston taxi-pool cafe was shut down temporarily in July after a case of hepatitis A was reported. Investigators discovered that there was no soap at the restaurant’s sink, and that food handlers were not wearing gloves.

At least 3,000 people — most of them cab drivers — were exposed between June 30 and July 4, according to Boston public health officials. Those exposed to the virus were told to get shots of immune globulin, which staves off the viral disease.

“These types of conditions do not cause hepatitis A, but can facilitate the spread of it, if someone with hepatitis A isn’t using proper hand-washing practices or is handling ready-to-eat food,” John Dorsey, spokesman for Boston Inspectional Services Department, told The Boston Globe.

An unidentified food handler at the cafe who tested positive for hepatitis A was responsible for the scare, the second confirmed case at a Boston eatery within a 10-day period. Four other Boston restaurants had reported cases in previous weeks.

Hepatitis A transmission is fecal-oral, or hand to mouth, through direct contact with an infected person or contaminated food or water.

Symptoms include jaundice, fatigue, nausea, loss of appetite and fever.

Charlie Rice, general manager/sales manager for Boston-area jan/san distributor Simplex Products, said that although the hepatitis A cases didn’t create a scare among customers, per se, it does bring to light topics Rice works to promote every day: proper cleaning and hand washing to prevent the spread of illness.

And while the Boston cases didn’t cause a discernable spike in related product sales for Simplex, the cases do give Rice something to talk about with customers.

“We give safety classes and hand-washing classes and we talk about the OSHA bloodborne pathogens [regulations],” he said. “Part of that is the proper way to wash your hands and protect yourself.”

Rice has seen a trend toward more and better precautions for illness prevention in his region. Simplex sells hand-sanitizing gels that go into gas stations and supermarkets. (Many area supermarkets now install alcohol-gel dispensers in the produce section for those who handle produce). He has also seen a marked increase in glove sales.

For distributors of jan/san supplies, cleaning to protect health comes with the territory, but for their customers, and the general public, a knowledge of the health/cleaning link can’t be taken for granted.

Already this year in Boston, 67 cases of hepatitis A have been confirmed, while from 2000 to 2003, the city averaged only 46 cases per year, The Boston Globe reported. The need for education and prevention is more apparent than ever.


EPA Cites Distributor for Breaking CFC Regulations
W.W. Grainger Inc., Miami, an international distributor of jan/san chemicals and industrial supplies, was recently charged by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) with selling banned ozone-depleting chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs). Grainger also failed to properly label and mark CFC products, according to the EPA’s press release.

Tennant Posts Improved Second-Quarter Earnings
Tennant Co., Minneapolis, a manufacturer of floor machines, recently announced net earnings of $3.7 million for the company in the second quarter. Tennant’s net earnings for the same period in 2003 were $3.2 million.

Windsor Changes Direction
Castle Rock Industries (CRI), Denver, recently announced that it will de-emphasize its focus on GlossTek as a commercial chemical product line for its Windsor brand. The decision allows the company to streamline its sales and focus on core competencies.

Ecolab Inc. Reports Improved 2Q Revenue
Ecolab Inc., St. Paul, Minn., a manufacturer of cleaning chemicals and personal hygiene products, reported second-quarter earnings of $78.3 million, up from $67.2 million last year.

WTO: Ensuring That the World Has Better Toilets
The World Toilet Organisation (WTO), Singapore, plans to host its first World Toilet Summit in Beijing, China, November 17-19. The theme of the event is “Human, Environment and Living,” and it aims to promote “the urgent call for better toilets for health and hygiene reasons.” Many Asian and European countries are represented in WTO, but not the United States.


Minuteman International, a floor-machine manufacturer based in Addison, Ill., recently announced that it has entered into a definitive merger agreement with Hako-Werke International of Germany. Hako-Werke, also a manufacturer of floor machines, already owns 68 percent of Minuteman International’s common stock through a subsidiary.

Acorn Distributors recently acquired Roger Popp Inc. Both companies are based in Indianapolis.

Acorn is a 28-year-old distributor of food service disposables, janitorial supplies, restroom equipment and floor care equipment. The company also recently opened a floor equipment repair shop.

Acorn distributes in Ohio, Kentucky, Missouri, Illinois, Michigan and Indiana.


The Junk Fax Prevention Act (S. 2603) has been introduced to the U.S. Senate, according to the International Sanitary Supply Association’s (ISSA) legislative department. The Junk Fax Prevention Act would create two benefits for jan/san distributors, according to ISSA:

  • Restore a common-sense approach to fax communications sent to existing customers and suppliers.

  • Provide a mechanism to effectively limit unwanted faxes.

The bill would also restore the “established business relationship” provision governing business communications by fax, which was repealed by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC). The FCC previously ruled that a business cannot fax commercial information to anyone — including existing customers and/or suppliers — without first obtaining a signed-consent form from the recipient.

The ISSA and other business-advocacy organizations are fighting to restore the “established business relationship” provision so that businesses can freely fax commercial or advertising information to their current customers without obtaining written consent.

In addition, S. 2603 would require commercial faxes to include a mandatory “opt-out” for unwanted faxes — a conspicuous notice on the first page, stating that the recipient may request that the sender of the fax discontinue the sending of faxes.

S. 2603 is a companion bill to H.R. 4600, which is a broad-based bill addressing several business initiatives. H.R. 4600 was passed by the House Energy and Commerce Committee on June 24. S. 2603 will now go with H.R. 4600 to the full House of Representatives for consideration.

Mold-Sniffing Canines and
Infrared Technology Team Up

Lab Results LLC, an indoor air quality (IAQ) improvement company in Princeton, N.J., recently became the first U.S. company to use infrared thermal imaging and “mold dogs” in tandem. As mold and mildew problems increase for facility owners across the country, mold remediation experts are turning to high-tech sensors and mold-sniffing animals. Now, Lab Results LLC is combining the two mold-detecting methods.

“The appearance of mold-sniffing dogs is a brilliant solution to the problem of locating sources of household mold,” says Dr. George Carroll, a mycologist at MouldWorks, a mold research center in Portland, Ore.

Lab Results LLC brought the first certified mold dog, Oreo, to the Northeast in 2003, and the company now leads a network of independent, certified mold-dog handlers. Like Carroll, other members of the scientific community have welcomed the idea of using nature and technology to fight mold.

Lab Results LLC has discovered that infrared technology is especially useful for inspecting flat roofing systems and synthetic stucco systems, which rarely give any visual clues as to their condition, or to the location of leaks or moisture retention. Exterior insulating finish systems also invite mold that often must be removed professionally.

For Lab Results LLC, infrared technology and mold dogs have proved to be a profitable combination. While a mold-detection canine can quickly find mold inside a commercial building, infrared thermal imaging can detect mold on a building’s exterior. Under the right conditions, infrared technology can predict where mold will grow.

“A mold problem is a moisture problem,” explains Jason Earle, founder of Lab Results LLC. “When we find moisture problems early, we can sometimes prevent mold and rot from taking hold.”

CDC Warns National Parks: Norovirus Spreads Quickly

Health officials are contacting concession companies and park officials throughout the United States after an outbreak of norovirus at Yellowstone National Park, reports the Billings Gazette.

More than 130 visitors and workers contracted the virus at Yellowstone this summer. Norovirus is related to the Norwalk virus that became well-known when a number of cruise-ship passengers contracted it and fell ill. It is actually a group of smaller viruses that can cause stomach flu, also known as gastroenteritis, according to the Gazette. Norovirus can cause vomiting, diarrhea, nausea and stomach cramping. The virus has caused problems for Yellowstone in the past, as well as other parks, like the Grand Canyon national parks.

Because it can be spread easily through human contact, Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) officials highly recommend upgraded hygiene practices for those in affected areas. Park officials are concerned because the virus continues to spread.

“We’re very nervous system-wide about this virus. Not because it’s life-threatening or severe, but because it’s so prevalent,” said Charles Higgins, director of the National Park Services Office of Public Health.

Yellowstone’s outbreak occurred in June and early July, and was concentrated around water areas, such as Old Faithful. Housekeepers and concession workers were hardest hit by the virus. CDC officials reported that contaminated food may have played a part in the spread of the virus, but park officials say that foodservice operations have not contributed to the spread of norovirus at Yellowstone.

Scientists Say Possible SARS Vaccine Could Prove Effective

Scientists at the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases in the state of Maryland appear to have taken the lead in the race to develop a cure for severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS). The possible cure is the first nasal vaccine to be used as a preventative measure against the deadly disease. In the past, medicinal attempts to counteract SARS employed various forms of injection.

SARS resulted in the deaths of 800 people in 2003, and cleaning professionals have stepped up efforts to keep areas sanitary because the syndrome spreads quickly via human contact.

The nasal vaccine might have the potency to ease the minds of those who work and live in high-risk areas, said Dr. Peter Collins. “The nose is where the infection attacks, so [the new vaccine] is very effective.”

Dr. Collins’ team tested its nasal vaccine on monkeys that has contracted SARS and found that it prevented any further effects with only a single dose.

Sinovac Biotech, a Beijing-based company, began the first clinical trial of the nasal vaccine in May. That trial is still being studied.

SARS is caused by a virus similar to the common cold. It emerged in southeast Asia in 2002 and killed nearly 800 people in 2003. Outbreaks have been controlled, but people are still wary of the disease appearing again.

Despite the vaccine’s promise, good hygiene and effective cleaning operations are currently the only sure method of preventing the spread of SARS. “The future lies in public health, not vaccines,” said David Brown, a molecular biologist at the University of Cambridge.

Study: Manufacturers and Distributors Communicate Poorly

The Industrial Performance Group Inc. (IPG), a firm that specializes in supply-chain management, in Northfield, Ill., has released research that reveals how differences between how manufacturers and distributors process information has a significant impact on sales performance and profitability.

The conclusion is drawn from a one-year study in 2003 of 115 manufacturers and 132 distributors from a wide variety of industry segments.

The study is a follow-up to IPG’s four-year study of more than 2,500 manufacturers and distributors called “Report Card Update” that was completed and published in 2001.

Much of the research is based on the work of Peter Senge, director of the Center for Organizational Learning at the Sloan School of Management, part of Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

The study cites issues that often result in creating barriers between distributors and manufacturers: current and future conditions in their industry; who the distributors’ customers are or should be; the basis of competition; and the purpose/role of the relationship.

Details of the study can be requested by e-mail.