The past 18 months have forever impacted the average consumer’s understanding of clean. According to data from Ecolab, a global leader in water, hygiene, and infection prevention solutions and services, this trend will only continue. A survey by the company shows that 95 percent of consumers would like to see businesses commit to cleaning the same amount or even more than what was happening at the height of the pandemic. That figure should get operators’ attention, especially considering it was established prior to the onset of the Delta variant.
“There’s been a notable shift in the way consumers are making choices about where they will eat, and it’s based on their confidence in how clean a space will be,” says Kris Kielsa, executive vice president and general manager for Ecolab’s Institutional North America business. “They want to feel confident that where they are choosing to eat is committed to delivering a higher level of cleanliness.”
Further, more than 80 percent of consumers surveyed by Ecolab are concerned about a future pandemic. To help address those concerns and changing consumer expectations, the company launched Ecolab Science Certified™, a public health and food safety program designed to help businesses advance cleaner, safer, science-backed practices by combining hospital disinfectants and food contact sanitizers, comprehensive public health and food safety training and procedures, and periodic auditing. The goal is to deliver a robust solution to enable food safety and public health best practices so businesses can build optimal guest (and employee) experiences.
Additionally, partnering with Ecolab helps operators address the urgent labor crisis. The company gives restaurants the tools and resources to minimize any disruption caused by staff turnover to help ensure storefronts are “Scientific Clean” no matter who is working.
“A surface might look clean to the naked eye, yet it can still harbor pathogens or microorganisms that could make a patron ill, which is why product selection matters,” says Dr. Andrew Cooper, senior vice president of research and development for Ecolab’s global institutional and specialty sector. “A ‘Scientific Clean’ means a restaurant is disinfecting all high-touch areas for the broadest protection against germs and sanitizing food-contact surfaces to align with food code requirements.”
According to Cooper, there are four key steps to building consumer confidence. First, Ecolab helps restaurants “create clean” by using hospital disinfectants and food-contact sanitizers. The products and procedures also align with the elevated hygiene standards and protocols laid out by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (cdc).
Next, Ecolab Science Certified helps “check clean” by conducting detailed public health and food safety training with periodic auditing by Ecolab specialists to ensure compliance.
Finally, the program helps consumers “see and believe clean” with an Ecolab Science Certified seal and other tools to help guests identify cues of clean.
“There’s a confidence people have in your brand when you are Ecolab Science Certified,” Cooper says. “Earning the Ecolab Science Certified seal represents the commitment you’re making to delivering a higher level of cleanliness.”
There’s another component to this program that Cooper and Kielsa believe is as important as any other, which is that Ecolab Science Certified helps restaurant employees feel more confident at work. For one, team members are being educated on critical public health and food safety issues, empowering them to take ownership over the cleanliness of the business, which drives engagement. Secondly, and perhaps most importantly, if employees see the restaurant is clean, they will feel more comfortable and know that their employer prioritizes public health.
“Operators can’t afford to lose employees right now,” Kielsa says. “So not only will Ecolab Science Certified help create better engaged associates on your team, but it’s also potentially going to help keep them healthy. Your brand is hard to build but easy to damage and making sure you have science-based health and safety practices in place is a really important aspect of that.”
For more, visit the Ecolab Science Certified website.