We spent the last 10 years talking customers into using their own reusable coffee cups. Why are café owners now refusing to wash up their customers travel cups during this COVID 19 crisis?
Yes, we have continually been told about how travel cups will save the environment and certainly understand the impact of paper waste on the world, However, Is the ‘touch risk’ to dangerous during this Corona Virus Pandemic to allow this practice to take place?
How did this all start?
Yes, it’s great news that every café is boosting their health and safety standards in the wake of the current Corona Virus attack. But most of the hygiene protocols I have read, have been cut and paste from the same large American coffee chain that posted hygiene guidelines for COVID 19 over two weeks ago. Every country has different health and hygiene standards, so what happens in North America is not necessarily what happens here! The memo’s we are seeing are saying cafes will not fill reusable cups, they will only provide takeaway coffee cups.
We need to stop and think!
Should a person carrying Coronavirus enter your premises, you will not be aware of the danger. They will potentially not only pass the virus bacteria on, their cup, it will be on their hands, hair, clothes and everything they touch. All surfaces they come in contact could have active traces of the virus on them for up to 3 to 4 hours, unless they are cleaned.
So as you can see the campaign to go back to disposable cups replacing reusable cups is not the primary focus here!
Many decisions have been made in haste, understandably time was of the essence and this was a quick fix. Now we have a moment to think and consider. There are other options available using disposable takeaway cups is NOT the only answer. It is a business decision for the owner, but there are options available that allow customers to use their own reusable cups.
How do we clean our customers travel cup?
Most busy Café and Espresso bars have a glass washer that has a two-minute wash cycle. Use this to your advantage! A nominated person can pick the rack up and place it into the washer and sanitise for 2 minutes.
Talking with industry food scientist, travel cups are likely to experience bacteria like Staphylococcus Aureus, E.coli, Listeria or Clostridium. Think about where your own travel cup or drink bottle ends up?
Food Health & Safety Auditor, Jacqueline Ward explains that methods used for manual sanitation need to ensure that utensils or food contact surfaces are exposed to a time–temperature combination.
Manual sanitation involves the immersion of utensils and food contact surfaces in water at a minimum temperature of 77°C for at least 30 seconds. The water temperature may need to be monitored, with a thermometer, to confirm it remains hot enough for the whole sanitation period.
Commercial dishwashers or glass washers, the water temperature should be a minimum temp of 74°C. Domestic temperature dishwashers minimum 66°– 71°C. and 82°C rinse temperature for other dishwasher types.
A quick and effective method of sterilization can be the use of chlorine or bleach. This could be done using a receptacle close to the barista, by dipping the cups and sitting it in the solution for 30 seconds. Food outlets are required to use food approved cleaning chemicals.
Currently, the greatest risk of spreading COVID-19 is through direct contact with an infected person or droplets from their cough or sneeze. This means that food businesses need to be extremely diligent with maintaining the health and hygiene procedures lay out in their Food Safety Program.
Biological contamination of food could occur from Food Handlers that have the virus, either knowingly or unknowingly, continue to work in the food premises and with food. Contamination can also occur on surfaces such as cooking equipment, chopping boards, tableware and food preparation areas – making other Food Handlers or customers on the premises at risk of contracting the virus. It is imperative that all Food Handlers know and follow proper hygiene protocols and the procedures for reporting illnesses at work.
Keep in mind that it isn’t just Food Handlers that could spread the virus in a food business. Infected customers dining at a food business can leave infected saliva droplets on surfaces when they cough or sneeze – putting Food Handlers or other customers at risk of contracting the virus. Maintaining a clean and sanitised food business is a regulation that must be complied with under Standard 3.2.2 of the Australia New Zealand Food Standards Code.
A trained and knowledgeable Food Safety Supervisor can help to ensure that the Food Safety Program is being followed — keeping the risk of a COVID-19 outbreak low, and your customers and staff healthy. Train a Food Safety Supervisor for your food business with the Australian Institute of Food Safety’s nationally recognized.
A trained and knowledgeable Food Safety Supervisor can help to ensure that the Food Safety Program is being followed — keeping the risk of a COVID-19 outbreak low, and your customers and staff healthy.
Writing this story, I approached over six reusable cup companies about the issue of them being removed from café service and I struggled to get support or comment about this issue. Maybe it’s bad timing for these businesses or maybe they are too big and corporate to make a comment. I am disappointed, as it’s time these café suppliers, support the independent café businesses that have supported them for so long!
Café Culture has always been a big supporter of all things sustainable and many of these businesses need to jump in the fight to keep a standard procedure in place for cleaning of reusable cup. Once businesses change a work practice it will be hard to go back the other way.
I have made it my mission for the next few weeks/months to support our industry to help people survive this crisis I just hope other suppliers that have built strong businesses through the support of the café owner will also give back.
Managing Director Café Culture International.