Hygiene certificate checks disinfection in laundries

Published: 19-Sep-2011

Adds to Hotelcheck Hygiene scheme that checks cleanliness of main hotel areas

A new hygiene certificate for hotel and kitchen laundry, commercial laundries certified with the RAL Quality Certification Mark 992/2 and 992/3 for professional textile services, demonstrates that the linen entrusted to them is disinfected during processing at their laundry, ensuring the highest possible level of hygiene safety.

Disinfectant washing processes using agents and procedures tested and recognised by Germany’s Robert Koch Institute and with defined areas of effectiveness A (killing of bacteria, fungi and fungal spores) or B (deactivation of viruses) have hitherto only been covered by the healthcare standard, i.e. for linen from hospitals and care homes.

Certified laundries have often in the past also used the same disinfectant washing processes for processing linen from hotels and catering establishments. Now with this supplementary certificate, the laundries can provide their customers with evidence of this additional hygiene safety service.

In order to ensure the proper degree of hygiene safety for consumers and users in this sector, Klaus-Dieter Zastrow, head of the Institute for Hygiene and Environmental Medicine at the Vivantes Clinics in Berlin, recommends that all textiles from the hotel and catering sector should always be disinfected.

“Highly virulent pathogens such as SARS, EHEC or, as now again, norovirus, keep cropping up. Fungal skin infections are also on the increase,” he said.

“As a preventative measure, and to prevent pathogens from being passed on via textiles, the whole area of textile hygiene should be given a higher priority in the hotel and catering industry, not least in the interest of guests.”

A ‘Hotelcheck Hygiene’ scheme, which is awarded by the International Hotel Hygiene Test Association, is also in place, which monitors and maintains quality standards in housekeeping, and provides an independent assessment of cleanliness and hygiene in the hotel industry.

This scheme enables cleanliness and hygiene to be checked in the main areas of a hotel (bedrooms, dining rooms, spa facilities), either separately or in combination.

The Hotelcheck Hygiene quality mark is awarded so long as the hotel complies with the relevant regulations and requirements. In addition to regular on-site visits by independent auditors, compliance with the regulations is monitored in regular in-house inspections carried out by the hotels themselves.

This has recently been extended to include a quick test for bacteria, newly developed by the German Hohenstein Institute, to examine the microbiological contamination of water and surfaces. Within a relatively short time, the test kit shows whether the bacterial contamination in the water systems of hotels, food processing plants, catering establishments, healthcare institutions and commercial laundries exceeds the relevant critical level, in which case immediate counter-measures must be taken. The test can be carried out quickly and easily even by non-experts.

Following on from this, a new ‘hygiene traffic light’ system is expected to be available in Germany from early 2012, which will give information about the standard of hygiene in a restaurant directly to restaurant guests.

The Ministers for Consumer Protection in the federal German states agreed to introduce such a hygiene control barometer at a special meeting in May.

The plan envisages a colour strip using traffic light colours, with an arrow indicating the assessment received by the restaurant in question at its last food hygiene inspection. "Green" would indicate outstanding hygiene standards, "yellow" standards that were in need of some improvement and "red" a low standard of hygiene.

Before the launch of the scheme in 2012, the federal government is to work out the legal basis for the standardised labelling system. At the same time, the federal states are to establish standard principles for introducing the traffic light system throughout Germany.

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