About Foodservice Products and Antimicrobials
Whether you're serving meals at a top-rated restaurant or an assisted living center, it's important to have strict sanitization methods in place for the equipment and tools used in prep, cooking, holding, and serving. Using color-coded cutting boards and knives, putting tools through the warewasher, and ensuring all equipment is completely dry before putting it away are vital cleaning and sanitizing steps to prevent cross-contamination and the growth of harmful microbes.
Although the technology has been around for decades, antimicrobial foodservice products are becoming a popular way for operators to add an extra layer of protection to the tools and equipment used in commercial kitchens. Below, you can learn more about what antimicrobials are and how they can benefit your business, as well as the types of antimicrobial products available.
What Are Antimicrobials?
Antimicrobials are natural or synthetic substances capable of inhibiting the growth of microbes, particularly harmful bacteria and viruses that may cause illnesses and diseases.1 Although microbes are too small to be seen, they can lead to noticeable signs of contamination, including mold and odors. In addition to causing unsightly blemishes on equipment, microbes allowed to grow on foodservice products can be the cause of foodborne illnesses like E. coli, Salmonella, and Listeria.
Antimicrobials do not stop the growth of microbes completely, but can be effective in slowing it so there are fewer microorganisms to clean from equipment like knives and cutting boards. Rather than being added as a final coating that could wear off over time, antimicrobial substances are generally added to materials used in the manufacturing process to provide a long-lasting defense against the rapid growth of microbes.
Microban Plates, Clean Ice, and More
Since being founded by biomedical engineers in 1984, Microban has become one of the best-known names in antimicrobial technology.2 Foodservice products made with Microban include Cambro serving trays, Chef's Edge cutting boards by Tomlinson, Hobart slicers, Koala Kare baby changing stations, Libbey Constellation dinnerware, Metro shelves and MightyLite food pan carriers, and Rubbermaid high chairs.
There are a number of other antimicrobial substances in common use in restaurant equipment, particularly ice machines. Making sure your ice maker is properly sanitized is the first step to serving clean ice, which is especially important since ice is classified as a food by the FDA. If this important task is consistently forgotten or neglected, it's more likely microbes that produce mold, slime, and ice cloudiness will grow inside of your ice machine. That's why commercial ice maker manufacturers include antimicrobial protection in the equipment's food zone, or the plastic parts of the machine that come in direct contact with the product and the water used to make it. Manitowoc and Koolaire ice machines are made with AlphaSan; Ice-O-Matic and Scotsman use Agion; and Hoshizaki uses H-GUARD Plus, an antimicrobial substance trademarked3 to the company.
Other antimicrobial substances are included on a number of other foodservice products, including:
- Antimicrobial probe wipes from Comark can be used to clean thermometers between uses.
- Correll's R-Series heavy-duty tables are constructed with an antimicrobial compound incorporated into the blow-molded plastic.
- Dexter Russell offers Sani-Safe cut-resistant gloves enhanced with the antimicrobial substance MicroGard.
- Notrax Sani-TUFF cutting boards are manufactured with MicroStop, an antimicrobial rubber compound.
- Sam Jamar's antimicrobial products include select hand dryers with Bio-Pruf handles and cut-resistant gloves made with DoubleGuard.