Alsco is the first company in our industry to have received the NSF International Commercial Laundry Certification for hospitality and food service linens. Receiving the certification is extremely important to us. But we want our customers to know that our involvement here goes way beyond just being certified. Alsco participated on a stakeholder committee and developed the first consensus-based protocol, NSF P413: Hygienically Clean Napery in Commercial Laundering Operations.
Having had the opportunity to participate in such an important endeavor, we have a greater appreciation of the NSF International mission. We fully support them in their efforts to improve global health and safety. If we can help promote that mission by providing hygienically clean and safer table linens, we are more than happy to do so.
A Little Bit of History
Alsco introduced the concept of linen and uniform rental services way back in 1889. We were the first company to do it back then. We continue to be a worldwide leader today, with more than 180 operating laundries and over 355,000 customers. But we realize we are not alone. We have plenty of competition from other companies who work just as hard for their customers.
A number of years ago, we were looking for a way to differentiate ourselves from other companies offering table linens to hospitality and food service businesses. We were reminded of the fact that NSF International offers a certification program for hand sanitizers and paper towels. That led us to approach them in hopes of being certified for our table linens. It turned out that NSF International had no such certification at the time.
NSF International was interested in helping us out, so they convened a panel to develop a consensus-based protocol for certifying commercial laundries. Certification to NSF P413 verifies that laundering facilities have quality control measures in place to ensure the laundering process is capable of consistently removing potential pathogens or other unacceptable bacterial organisms from soiled napery.
We were pleased when the organization asked us to participate in the protocol development process. A number of Alsco senior staff members joined representatives of other companies and organizations in our industry to help NSF International create standards for developing a transparent process of certification.
Our Plants under the Microscope
One of the first facilities they looked at was our Chicago plant. NSF International auditors looked at everything from laundry time and wash temperatures to linen packaging and transport. In compliance with the NSF Commercial Laundering Certification program, all 80 North American Alsco facilities were required to be audited.
Over the course of a full year, NSF International audited and certified all our laundry facilities. But they did more than look at just our laundry procedures. Our entire company was subject to a desk audit that looked at each of the official procedures and policies we have in place for tracking, monitoring, and auditing laundering procedures.
Capping it all off was a systematic microbial testing of finished products. Microbiological testing is conducted on samples of laundered products to confirm the repeatability and validity of the laundering facility’s effectiveness in removing harmful pathogens and bacteria.
While it might seem odd that a company like ours would allow itself to be so heavily scrutinized in order to develop global standards for hygiene and safety, we felt it best for both our customers and our industry. Looking back, we are happy to have participated in developing standards that could prove to be a real game-changer for the commercial linen industry. We count our participation as yet another great event in more than 125 years of Alsco history.