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Hygiene goes green too

Hygiene, and food safety in particular, continue to be the primary fears of travelers second only to… terrorism and crime. The brand image of certain groups has improved over time, making it possible to gradually create privileged relations with a clientele that associates the quality of their services with their choice when it comes to reserving a room. This chain has many equally important links, where everyone from the housekeeper to the hotel manager, including kitchen personnel must meet the demands of customers who zap from one hotel to the next and face the changing legislation that is increasingly demanding. In this era another problem has joined this one: the priority to shift towards products that respect the environment.

What good is a room with innovative design and the latest installations if it is not properly sanitized? The answer is obvious. However, at a time when profitability and efficiency go hand in hand with security and environmental protection, cleaning professionals must offer efficient solutions and optimized procedures to satisfy a sector that continues to be a major consumer of cleaning products. “Design and the materials used in the hotel industry have changed a great deal so some distributors don’t hesitate to contact us about the development of their products,” ex-plains Corinne Veyssière, President of the AGGH (Association of head housekeepers of hotels). When it comes to hygiene and cleaning in the hotel and restaurant industries, there is zero tolerance and each link in the chain must be spotless to avoid being pinned by consumers who are increasingly influential thanks to their access to information and the ease with which it is communicated via Internet. Corinne Veyssière remarks, “The videos available on Internet regarding the cleanliness of glasses has made us change how we wash them. We now use a disinfectant and sponges especially designed for glassware.”When it comes to hygiene and cleanliness, there is no way to compromise. Thanks to legislation that is more concerned about the planet and the constantly growing needs of the hotel industry for disinfectants and multi-purpose products, professionals must be ready to listen to turn it to their best advantage through their supply. Moreover by the year 2010, all products will have to be Biocide. This means that all disinfectant products that do not meet the Ecolabel standard because of their action, will have to combine their ‘germicide’ effect with environmental protection when disposed of. The efficiency/profitability ratio has also changed certain habits and expressed the needs of an increasingly demanding sector.As in the case of aerosols, public awareness has been raised through a well-defined legal framework established by public and institutional leaders. The EU has implemented directives for biocides – household disinfectants and insecticides. The European regulation 852/2004, the “Hygiene package”, stipulates: “the layout, design, construction, situation and size of food premises are to permit adequate maintenance, cleaning and/or disinfection, avoid or minimize air-borne contamination, and provide adequate working space to allow for the hygienic performance of all operations; be such as to protect against the accumulation of dirt, contact with toxic materials, the shedding of particles into food and the formation of condensation or undesirable mould on surfaces (…) permit good food hygiene practices…”This directive reconciles increased hygiene and environ-mental protection. Its primary goal is to ensure a high level of protection of the person and at the same time encourage the distribution of active substances that present lower risks for the environment. Mehdi Belaribi, Key accounts manager for Healthcare and Lodging at JohnsonDiversey explains, “With our DQFM Room Care range and its automatic dosing and dilution system, housekeeping personnel do not come into direct contact with products. The system is similar to the classic functioning of a beverage distributor. In addition to the safety aspect, an environ-mental approach comes into play throughout the product’s lifecycle, from packaging to delivery. This product is delivered in a 1.5 L plastic pouch that reduces waste production by 90% allowing it to move out of the SIW category– Special Industrial Waste – and into the OID category -Ordinary Industrial Waste – which is less problematic when it comes to disposal.”At Ecolab, which adopted a similar approach in order to limit its packaging waste, Sylvie Polge, Housekeeping product manager France, insists: “the Oasis Pro dispenser, rechargeable with 2 liter plastic pouches and attached to a water supply, makes it possible to work with 4 different products, to control costs and consumption and to promote the safety of those using the devices, limits waste and contributes to a responsible and sustainable approach. The alternative of ready to use products is limited to small quantities”.The new regulations of the EU that came into effect on October 8, 2005, are intended to reinforce the quality of information provided to users and to concretize efforts made towards sustainable development. Since then, the surfactants used in detergents (anionic, non ionic, cationic surfactants and amphoteres) must have final biodegradability that passes the new test described in the regulations. The final biodegradability corresponds of complete decomposition of the surfactant molecule. Previously only primary biodegradability was required; this corresponded to a loss of tensioactive properties by breaking the surfactant molecule. All the surfactants used in detergents must respond to these new specificationsProfessionals are following suit, both through their convictions and because they see this newly raised awareness as a way to promote their products. Both Ecolab and Johnson Diversey are members of the A.I.S.E (International Association for Soaps, Detergents and Maintenance Products).Professionals are following suit, both through their convictions and because they see this newly raised awareness as a way to promote their products. Some, such as Ecolab or Johnson Diversey, are members of the A.I.S.E (International Association for Soaps, Detergents and Maintenance Products). Their expertise is also a way to implement regulations in terms of how chemical products are used.The Washright campaign, for example, promotes optimizing the use of washing machines in terms of performance and saving energy, or the initiative of the “sustainable cleaning” label that guarantees an ecological approach throughout the product’s lifecycle from its production to its destruction.Sometimes hotels add new, more extreme hygiene procedures. In this case, surface specimens, used more regularly in kitchens, are taken in bedrooms and bathrooms. Sometimes it is also necessary to find temporary replacements when the usual personnel take vacations. These newcomers are sensitized to the rules regarding products and receive training before entering the workforce and they are also regularly supervised by the head housekeeper.“We pay careful attention to the training of our collaborators. Turnover is not the same from one property to the next, nonetheless refreshment boosters are necessary year round. Whether staff is in-house or outsourced, our work has increased in the field of specific hygiene,” emphasizes Corinne Veyssière.“Our customer relations are not limited to supplying the most efficient and safest possible products,” pursues Sylvie Polge. “We also supply the tools and training is included, particularly since it is necessary do regular refreshers when personnel is generally not very educated and turnover is quick. We have perfected simple modules for different purposes in the Oasis product range that are easily identifiable thanks to color coding.”Yet training is central to the relationship between hoteliers and distributors. Mehdi Belaribi explains JohnsonDiversey’s approach: “Our training center offers personnel training about products, materials and the ergonomics of work procedures. Since the primary cause of sick leave for personnel is back pain, we train staff to use an ergonomic technique for laying out comforters which, weighing in at 3kg for a double bed, represent a significant load. While the time savings is not great, this technique means that employees never have to carry the comforter with outstretched arms.”As suggested, the will to simplify procedures has led to color coding in order to differentiate products that are multi use and multi-surface. Such innovations have been implemented to facilitate the work of personnel. “The presentation of our products follows a precise color and alphanumeric code. R1 for products to be used in rooms first and R2 for products to be applied afterward. Sponges and cloths are also color coded,” indicates Mehdi Belaribi. The housekeeping cart has also been redesigned using lighter weight materials and pivoting wheels to make it lighter and safer to use. “To prevent cross-contamination, we have created a basket with separate compartments to prevent interaction between the different sponges and cloths used,” adds Mehdi Belaribi. Efforts have also been made regarding the use of products in order to reduce the quantities used and optimize their effectiveness. A preparation mixed too far ahead of time loses its effectiveness. So the age of advance preparation of solutions is passed and rooms are cleaned in a specific order. For example, after applying products in the bathroom, housekeepers are encouraged to make the bed while the product does its job.The nature of the products themselves has evolved to combine efficiency with ease of use, as Sylvie Polge of Ecolab suggests. “We have perfected a product for cleaning windows and modern surfaces, as well as inox and chrome, which requires the technology of nanoparticles that adhere to create an invisible film and leave behind a hydrophilic surface, which is much easier to maintain, and offers significant time savings for housekeepers.”The kitchen is also undergoing a revolution. New culinary trends have come along their share of new practices into kitchens. While new materials are making their appearance, the interaction of foodstuffs opens the way to new procedures in hygiene and new needs for installations that must conform to regulations. “Today, partly because of instances of food poisoning that have made the headlines, consumers are more aware and don’t hesitate to avoid a restaurant or certain kind of food,” explains Michael Olsen, Director of research for the IH&RA (International Hotel and Restaurant Association). On the other side of the Atlantic this increased overall awareness has, since the end of the 90s, brought about the creation of the concept of “Hygienomics”, a veritable proactive discipline aimed at improving hygiene and food safety in the hotel and restaurant industries. The president of the IH&RA summarizes the concept in these terms: “The concept of hygienomics is based on the principal that the entire brand must be irreproachable. This is why the problem of ensuring hygiene and food safety in order to preserve the consumer’s confidence has gained importance.”Hygiene and cleanliness are also associated with the notion of well-being. The banning of smoking in public spaces has increased the use of tobacco in rooms. To make up for the resulting olfactory disturbance, JohnsonDiversey recommends a system for extracting bad smells with Good Sense Service, which may be combined with an olfactory signature, via the climate control system of the room and public areas. Thanks to a polymer panel, this system is not liquid and thus prevents all risk of Legionnaires’ disease. “We are working with many hotels to install this system. Another need has arisen in casinos following the smoking ban: the increase of body odor caused by the stress of players leading some of these properties to request our services. We are working with the Groupe Lucien Barrière and the Plaza Athénée on personalized olfactory signatures,” recounts Mr. Belaribi.Resort hotels with their swimming pools and spa areas must also adhere to draconian regulations. In microbiology a breeding ground designates the study of the formation of bacteria from a liquid milieu. More commonly, the term breeding ground brings up bad memories of beaches in mid-August where the water has turned funky colors. Today, hotel swimming pools execute strict sanitary controls and must report water conditions. The hotel, must fulfill two daily obligations: test the water quality and update a sanitary logbook indicating the number of bathers, water consumption, transparency, pH, levels of disinfectant, the water temperature. To minimize the risk of bacteria, water must be filtered and disinfected, and the hotelier must require guests to shower with soap, use the foot-bath and wear a swimming cap.When it comes to hygiene and cleanliness, there is no way to compromise. Thanks to legislation that is more concerned about the planet and the constantly growing needs of the hotel industry for disinfectants and multi-purpose products, professionals must be ready to listen to turn it to their best advantage through their supply. Moreover by the year 2010, all products will have to be Biocide. This means that all disinfectant products that do not meet the Ecolabel standard because of their action, will have to combine their ‘germicide’ effect with environmental protection when disposed of. The efficiency/profitability ratio has also changed certain habits and expressed the needs of an increasingly demanding sector.

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