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September 2019

Hidden germs at the mall

Written by Bakang Kganyago
Cleanliness and Hygiene

Do you find that this year is just flying by?  You may struggle to believe it but there are only 15 weeks left before Christmas!

Within the next two months, you will start seeing a noticeable increase in foot traffic within our malls.  How busy do you think a mall can get? Let me assure you the numbers seem fabricated. The Mall of Africa, located in the Waterfall Estate between Midrand and Sandton, attracted in excess of 1.5 million in foot traffic in its first full month of trade, according to its management team.

My mind gravitates towards the myriad of hygiene concerns that may be present which we get exposed to (especially during busy times like Christmas).  It’s not just about the soap or toilet paper running out in the mall bathroom. This week I would like to point out some of the more well-hidden germs at the mall.

Phone and electronic stores

Phone and electronic store displays are most effective when browsing shoppers can interact with the products.  The strategy is sound as people interacting with these products are more likely to buy after experiencing the features, however, have you taken a moment to think about how many people have done the same on that day? It is said that our cellphones have more bacteria on them than a toilet seat. Imagine one that's been handled by several other people aside from yourself. Not to say you should not indulge in the fascination of the next big tech but you might want to wash or sanitise your hands afterwards. 

For store managers, I’d recommend wiping down your demo products with a sanitiser as part of your cleaning routine - just make sure the sanitiser being used is ‘technology safe’. For complete peace of mind, you may also want to consider booking a regular techno-hygiene service with Initial. This specialised treatment sanitises your technology safely and removes grime, dust, stains, food particles, skin cells and saliva - to ensure your demo models always look fresh out of the box.

Restaurant kitchens

Did you know that kitchens are potentially a high-risk area when it comes to hygiene? You’d be surprised how quickly fat and carbon become burnt onto expensive kitchen equipment. The HACCP approach requires that, in addition to safe handling of food and daily cleaning of kitchen equipment, periodic deep cleaning and sanitation takes place to prevent the spread of bacteria such as E Coli, Salmonella, Listeria and Staphylococcus. When left unchecked this may pose quite a serious health risk to customers and a fire risk to the business. 

Initial Hygiene provides a specialised commercial kitchen deep cleaning service called Cater Clean that ensures the health and safety risk to your customer is minimised by removing carbon deposits, grease, grime and solidified oils. 

Food menus & tables

Sticking with restaurants, have you ever seen waiters or waitresses disinfect menus or condiments before handing them to you? Now imagine how many people touch those menus every day, let alone a week or month! 

The same can be said for tables and counters. We often rely on the idea that they are clean because we’ve seen waiters clean tables and wipe down sauce bottles before we sit, but is that enough to keep the germs away? It’s debatable. The cloths used to do all the cleaning potentially spread bacteria such as E. coli if they’re not regularly washed. For customers, I’d advise keeping a pack of disinfecting wipes with you just in case.  For restaurants, have you critically evaluated your ‘during service’ cleaning routine? Maybe start with a disinfectant spray to table cleaning.


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Clothing stores and change rooms

It’s easy to forget about the possible hygiene issues present in a clothing store. The mere fact that there may be several people trying on the same shoe you did presents a platform for cross-contamination. Bacteria from other people’s feet can grow inside the shoe which may cause athlete’s foot. 

Change rooms also get a large amount of traffic and will need to be regularly disinfected. Initial’s solution to the problem is an anti-bacterial fogging treatment whereby an ultra-low volume fogging machine is used to generate tiny droplets of specialist disinfectant that will cover every surface, crack or crevice in the change room. The preparations used have a residual efficacy which will continue to minimise the spread of bacteria for up to 2 weeks, keeping customers safe.

Escalators handrails and lift buttons

Escalator handrails and lift buttons are a good place to start should you be shopping for flu. CBS news quoted microbiologist Charles P. Gerba’s findings stated that they found food, E. coli, urine, mucus, feces, and blood on escalator handrails.  They also found respiratory flora on handrails, which comes as no surprise as people cough into their hands, then touch the rails. My advice would be to not touch handrails or at the very least sanitise your hands afterwards. As for the lift buttons, I’ve learned a neat trick of pressing the button with my knuckle or any other part of my body that won’t touch my face

I hope that I didn’t put you off having a fun trip to the mall with your family.  You need to take into consideration that you can’t avoid all germs and actually you shouldn’t, however, being aware of the many places that are a risk and managing them will help you to reduce illness and minimise cross-contamination.

We recommend you start planning for the December rush now, contact us for the right hygiene maintenance options for you.

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Bakang Kganyago

Bakang Kganyago

Bakang is a Digital Marketing Executive for Rentokil Initial. A germaphobe at heart, he's passionate about learning and sharing insights on how to defeat the enemy we cannot see. Join his journey as he writes about the impact of germs in our daily lives.

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