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Microbiologist calls on hospitality industry to do more following outbreak of Norovirus

A leading microbiologist is calling on the hospitality and leisure industry to take more drastic action to minimise the risk of customers and staff being infected with potentially harmful microorganisms following a food poisoning outbreak at the Hilton Hotel in Glasgow.

Dr Richard Hastings, a microbiologist for BioCote, says that by adopting antimicrobial silver ion technology into areas where hygiene is critical – such as a hotel’s kitchen and restaurant, or public areas where there is high footfall – it can help lower levels of contaminating bacteria by up to 99.99%. This dramatically reduces the possibility of cross-contamination and the risk of people getting infected.

“Even with strictest hygiene practices in place, well-trained staff and the most effective disinfectants on the market, it is impossible to clean surfaces every minute of the day,” said Dr Hastings. “Once cleaning stops, bacteria can rapidly multiply to former levels, increasing the risk of cross-contamination, infection and illness.”

The Glasgow outbreak is suspected to have been caused by Norovirus but there is a host of harmful bacteria such as Salmonella, E. coli, Listeria and Campylobacter that the hospitality industry needs to be aware of as they can spread quickly and cause serious disease. Contaminated food, hand-to-hand contact and bacteria living on surfaces like door handles, kitchen worktops, light switches and stairway rails present serious hazards where cross-contamination can occur.

“Ultimately, the impact an outbreak has on a hotel’s reputation can be devastating,” warned Hastings. “Norovirus, for example, can be particularly dangerous for the elderly or very young, especially if customers have underlying health problems. Then there’s Campylobacter – the most common form of food poisoning – which is estimated to cost the UK economy £500m a year.”

To combat this, Dr Hastings believes manufacturers of products for the hospitality industry should think seriously about adopting silver ion technology into their products at the manufacturing stage. He also believes that those with the purchasing power for hotels and restaurants should insist the products they buy feature this type of technology.

“It is proven through independent laboratory testing that silver ion technology is highly effective against a wide range of disease-causing bacteria,” concluded Hastings.

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