Choosing the right products to clean, sanitize and disinfect can be tricky – but using them correctly is even harder. Audits and training sessions should address chemistry tools and methodology.

For chemistry, Dr. Gerba recommends distributors offer products registered by the Environmental Protection Agency that are labeled to be effective against the major foodborne pathogens, including Salmonella and Campylobacter, as well as norovirus.

“Norovirus outbreaks re-occur in restaurants on a regular basis. Not all product formulations are effective against norovirus, so reading the label is important,” he cautions. The good news, according to Dr. Gerba, is if a product takes out norovirus on surfaces, it will also take out most other pathogens, “except for Tuberculosis and C.diff.”

Even the best chemistry is ineffective if end users are not using it correctly.

“When suggesting a cleaner, sanitizer or disinfectant, stress that end users must read the directions and follow them closely. Using chemicals incorrectly can create unintended consequences.” insists Solomon. “The label is the law.”

It’s also important to mix it up.

“Disinfecting or sanitizing continually with the same product, or products with the same active ingredients, is not effective,” advises Sawchuk. “Mix up the active ingredients.”

For cleaning cloths, Dr. Gerba suggests that it’s better to use single-use disinfectant wipes than cloths or sponges, as it is so hard to disinfect them properly, and avoid using the same wipe over and over.

Microfiber is another good option when used correctly. That means suggesting a high-quality product, training users to fold it into quadrants so employees always have a clean portion to work with, and laundering cloths properly after every use.

“Color-coding is also great for preventing cross-contamination,” she says. “But using six different colors is a bit much — two or three is best.”

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