Infection control is surely one of the major new frontiers in the laundry industry; and both healthcare and food & beverage operators are mostly well aware of the dynamic. The growing need for laundry driven infection control safety is a result of:
a) the real life need
b) the growing understanding of the professionals within healthcare and food service
c) the growing understanding of the general public.
“Healthcare Acquired Infections” (HAI) are likely driving the dynamic to the buying public. HAI is the result of a patient entering a healthcare facility for treatment of a symptom, and then contracting another infection from within the healthcare facility. The real driver here is actual DEATHS that have occurred as the result of HAI. While most of the public doesn’t really know the data here, some healthcare agencies have stated that annual deaths resulting from HAI are approaching 400,000. Additionally, food service related infections are all over the news when they occur, as they impact a number of people all at once. When food poisoning and death occur as the result of people eating at restaurants, CNN tells us all the information, and suddenly the general public is looking for answers and action. How concerned should a laundry be about this? Very. Are there solutions? Yes.
In the healthcare arena, there are certifications that can help operators be “safe” with the processing and ultimate delivery of their linens. HLAC Healthcare Laundry Accreditation Council will give operators guidance on certification and the steps to ensure safer “product”. TRSA’s Hygienically Clean certification will give operators guidance on certification and the steps to ensure safer “process.” NSF International has also deployed a Hygienic Laundering certification and is actively focused on “public health and safety”. It is likely that within a few short years, operators won’t be able to effectively retain present clients and/or gain new clients in this market – without a credible certification. There are numerous experts who can assist operators through equipment, chemistry, working space, textile handling, finishing and packaging… but rest assured, the time is upon our industry to take this seriously. With the growth of social media and the conscious understanding of the buying public, as well as the power of purchasing transitioning to Millennials (who are tapped into the information stream), our industry is approaching a market that will require credibility to the buying public before the first appointment.
Food service linen cleanliness is a newer dynamic in the industry, mostly as the result of highly publicized events. The restaurant market has been long aware of the need, and has taken responsible action for years with their rating system. However, there is legislative movement on this front, to keep the public safer, with regard to cleanliness standards. On the food preparation front, the FDA and USDA have been very active in the area of safety for many decades. Bottom line is that every time we have a food service related “mass incident”, the public becomes more aware. Couple that with the information stream from the healthcare front, and we are converging on a time when the buying public simply wants to know they are safe. The US public eats in restaurants now more than ever, and when they eat at home – they use packaged goods now more than ever.
TRSA is initiating a Hygienically Clean certification with standards in the food & beverage market. NSF International’s Hygienic Laundering certification is focused on “public health and safety”. Larger restaurant and food service chains will soon become more aware of these certifications, which will drive the market to seek credibility during the purchasing process.
HLAC, TRSA and NSF have slightly differing approaches to certification, and there is activity between them to bring more standardization. So, as an operator, should you pay attention to this area?. YES! Get involved, learn the market dynamics, get the information and take action. It’s the right time… and beyond all of the above, it’s the right thing to do… to take the socially responsible steps to ensure clean and safe textiles for our buying public.
Be sure to use and launder only industrial launderable quality textiles. Shop Industrial Textiles