Industry News | June 15, 2010

Tork Digs Up the Dirt on Restaurant Hygiene

Research conducted by Harris Interactive on behalf of SCA Tissue's Tork brand showed that consumers have strong opinions about restaurant cleanliness, particularly when it comes to eating surfaces.

The results of the consumer poll from November 10-12, 2009, conducted online with 2,495 U.S. adults ages 18 and older, provide valuable insight and guidance to restaurant owners in terms of how to approach hygiene and cleaning. For example, 74 percent of American adults who eat at restaurants say that chefs' repeatedly using the same rags to clean food contact surfaces is a very unhygienic practice.

Seventy-six percent agree that employees using color-coded cleaning products to prevent cross contamination would by very hygienic. Using disposable wiping products to clean food-contact surfaces is considered very hygienic by 77 percent of adults who eat at restaurants.

Donna Duberg, a leading authority on hygiene and disease prevention, believes that consumers have it right; and that restaurant owners need to take surface hygiene seriously if they want to avoid losing business productivity and sales.

"Public hygiene, specifically in areas where consumers eat, is top-of-mind with the American public, and restaurant owners stand to lose a lot if they aren't paying attention to what is important to their customers," says Duberg, an assistant professor of clinical laboratory science at St. Louis University and Tork Green Hygiene Council member. "A simple change in practice, such as using single-use, nonwoven food service wipers to clean eating and cooking surfaces, can create a healthier work environment and a more positive consumer experience."

Duberg offers the following tips to restaurant owners:

*Contrary to popular belief, cloth is not as hygienic as single use, nonwoven wipes when it comes to cleaning. Bacteria can live for days on a surface and for weeks on cloth. Because cloth rags and cloth towels used for cleaning are generally kept in dark places and are not always completely dry before they are put away, they become the perfect breeding ground for bacteria. Single-use wipers clean and then are discarded.

*Since bacteria can live on cloth for a considerable amount of time, the risk of cross contamination is greater with cloth than with nonwoven wipers. Cloth allows for bacteria from back-of-the-house tasks to easily migrate to the dining area.

*If cloth must be used, remember that cloth used for cleaning should be sanitized by washing in hot (at least 160 degrees), soapy water.

Additional survey results include:

*Twenty-seven percent feel employees using cloth materials to clean dining tables and chairs is very hygienic, 27 percent feel this is very unhygienic, and 46 percent don't feel strongly either way.

*Sixty-five percent believe that cleaning a dining table with a towel that is free of debris and stains is a very hygienic practice.


This survey was conducted online within the U.S. by Harris Interactive via its QuickQuery(SM) online omnibus service on behalf of SCA Tissue North America between November 10-12, 2009, among 2,495 U.S. adults ages 18 years and older, of which 2,442 ever eat at restaurants. Results were weighted as needed for region, age within gender, education, household income, and race/ethnicity. Propensity score weighting was also used to adjust for respondents' propensity to be online. No estimates of theoretical sampling error can be calculated. For complete survey results and a full methodology statement, please contact Mike Kapalko, SCA Tissue, at 920-720-4550.

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