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Don’t Let Perfection Be The Enemy Of Good: The case for frequency over thoroughness

Jim Mann's picture

The risk of a looming foodborne outbreak due to a missed hand wash or the cleaning of a high-touch surface will never be zero. That reality compromises many a food safety program as operators specify thorough cleaning with lofty label-claim products over frequent lighter duty cleaning of both hands and high-touch surfaces.

For hand cleanliness, operators are accepting low-frequency deep cleaning where they should be specifying high-frequency hand sanitizer use between full, more time-consuming, handwashes, A deep clean hourly hand wash complemented with three quick treatments of hand sanitizer would on average be a better way of protecting the public’s health, the staff and the operator’s brand. Even though the FDA disagrees with this approach, it is technically the preferred protocol. The FDA resists this change because their audits are based on inspection limitations rather than risk.

Surface cleanliness is often compromised by this same logic, Get the gloves on. Get the bleach. Go for a 5 log reduction. This surface is clean! … until the next touch. Here is an animation of an 8 hour contamination cycle. It is not in foodservice but just how different might this be in a busy professional kitchen?

This study is in a hospital intensive care unit. A single point was contaminated in pod D with an inert DNA marker. Imagine that the contamination occurred in perhaps the restaurant manager’s office. Hit the start button, watch the spread during an 8 hour shift and consider an infrequent thorough cleaning versus a timely and frequent light-duty compromise. Don’t let the seeking of perfection be the enemy of good.

More detail is available at http://pediatrics.aappublications.org/content/105/2/311.abstract

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