Part two of this three-part article concerns quat binding in foodservice.

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

Industry manufacturers estimate that between 50 to 80 percent of foodservice operations use cotton towels for front- and back-of-house cleaning.

“Cotton, paper and some nonwoven towels can bind up to 40 percent of sanitizer solutions, depleting the ppm to noncompliant levels based upon sanitizer manufacturer usage instructions, FDA food code and individual states’ food codes,” says Dawn Huston, director of product marketing for wipes in the Americas, AVINTIV, Inc., the parent company of the Chicopee brand, Charlotte, North Carolina. “When the towel binds the quat, a portion of the sanitizer is rendered unavailable to be applied to food contact surfaces and increases the risk for health code violations and foodborne illness outbreaks in restaurants.”  

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

One in six Americans — roughly 48 million people — get sick from eating contaminated food each year, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). In addition, about 3,000 people die each year from foodborne illness, states the CDC.

“It could cost a facility up to $75,000 per outbreak,” says Tara Millar, product manager at ITW Pro Brands in Olathe, Kansas. “Plus, [cleaning operations] are throwing money out the window on chemicals because they are not being used properly.”

Although 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,” says Millar. “The tests are for two different qualities.”

When ppm is at problematic levels, it comes with consequences.

“In most states if the ppm of the sanitizer is too low it is a minor violation. In some states it is a critical violation, losing up to seven points on the health inspection score and requiring a follow-up visit by the inspector,” says Huston.

Workers in restaurants, cafeterias or breakrooms should follow the same policies and procedures to avoid quat binding as they use in other areas of the facility. Choosing nonquat 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.

previous page of this article:
Binding Reduces Quaternary Ammonium Chloride Effectiveness
next page of this article:
How To Properly Use Quaternary Ammonium Products