The coronavirus outbreak that began in China in late 2019 is now garnering worldwide attention. As cases in China mount, it appears the virus is spreading worldwide. We have even seen a number of cases here in the U.S. As we watch what the CDC refers to as 2019-nCoV spread, our team at Alsco would like to remind everyone about the importance of NSF-certified hygienically clean table linens.
Studies have shown that tabletops are one of the least sanitary areas in restaurants, and using dishrags or sponges to clean tables increases bacteria. When you use hygienically clean table linens, you ensure that customers will start their meal in a germ-free environment.
Any discussion about hygienically clean linens in relation to the current coronavirus outbreak needs to be tempered with an explanation of what coronavirus actually is. It would be incorrect to assume that we are talking about a brand-new virus that we know nothing about. It is quite the opposite.
Coronaviruses have existed for years. Such viruses generally cause respiratory illnesses in mammals. Those found in animals are distinctly different from human coronaviruses. Most of the time, they remain separate. But there are two types of animal coronaviruses that have been transmitted to humans.
Most coronaviruses do little more than cause the common cold. Otherwise healthy people feel sick for a few days before making a full recovery. Scientists do not yet know what makes 2019-nCoV so different, but it may have something to do with SARS and MERS — the two animal viruses that were transmitted to humans.
Whenever the world witnesses the outbreak of a new disease, efforts to contain the outbreak are begun in earnest. Organizations like the WHO and CDC lend their expertise and vast resources to the cause. But ultimately, containment rests with the decision-makers who develop containment policies and those workers who implement them.
The primary strategy for containing outbreaks is to limit exposure. Simply put, limiting exposure to the pathogen in question prevents its spread. Exposure can be limited through any number of means, like quarantining sick individuals. But quarantines only go so far. This leads us back to hygienically clean linens.
If containing an outbreak is your goal, you cannot afford to have linens returning from the laundry without being hygienically clean. This is not necessarily a problem with coronavirus for the simple fact that extremely hot water and a good disinfectant will eliminate it. Yet there are other pathogens requiring more aggressive laundering methods.
Also consider that laundering is just part of the equation. How contaminated linens were handled when they arrived at the laundering facility can contribute to the spread of pathogens. Likewise, the packaging process can be contaminated if certain procedures are not followed.
Delivering hygienically clean linens requires controlling the entire process from start to finish. Any contamination in the receiving area must be contained to that area. The same is true for contamination at the front end of the laundering process. Linens that come out the other end clean must remain clean as they are handled, packaged and prepared for shipping.
Hygienically clean linens are one of the best ways to stop germs from spreading at your restaurant — but they will not stop an outbreak on their own. Washing your hands thoroughly and frequently is crucial, especially during virus outbreaks or flu season. Make sure your employees and customers have access to clean restrooms and supplies. We offer washroom supplies such as touch-free soap dispensers and hand sanitizers so you can properly outfit your establishment against outbreaks.
We hope the current coronavirus outbreak will be over soon. In the meantime, it is a reminder of how important hygienically clean linens are at your establishment.