Why We Created the Ferveo Line of Hand-Care Products

Do you use the hand washing agents available at your business exactly as directed?

Unfortunately, this doesn’t always happen. And even when you do use the product as the manufacturer instructs, sometimes you still don’t have all the bacteria and germs on your hands killed like you should.

Handwashing doesn’t seem like a huge deal. Yeah, so it prevents some people from getting colds and flus each year. But that’s not worth shifting to a new product for cleaning your hands and instructing your employees on properly handwashing technique, is it?

Believe it or not, it is. According to an article by the New York Times, about 100,000 patients die each year because of poor hand hygiene in the medical industry. This also leads to an additional $30 billion in medical care costs.

Those numbers may be a bit extreme and not as applicable to other industries. But it does demonstrate that hand hygiene is a sound business/organizational decision that’s worth paying attention to.

And That’s Where the Ferveo Line Comes In

Ferveo isn’t just for the medical industry. It’s for every industry. Poor hand hygiene may not lead to thousands of deaths in your industry. But, it leads to additional (and unnecessary) illnesses. These illnesses in turn:

  • Reduce productivity when workers are present
  • Increase workplace absences
  • Deplete worker morale
  • Cause other hassles, like missed project deadlines

Have you ever taken time to calculate your number of illness-related work absences? Once you have a baseline, use Ferveo, and set a clear policy around hand hygiene. Then analyze how many illness-related work absences you have.

Why Use Ferveo and Not Some Other Hand Hygiene Products?

It’s the only product that kills 99.99% of bacteria in 5 seconds or less (which is about half the time of most other hand hygiene products) without a pungent smell or taste. In fact, Ferveo users report it goes on just like a lotion.

So if you’re in the food or medical industries, for example, you and your patients (or customers) won’t have to deal with the scent or taste. It also comes with a thick and rich lather so your hands aren’t left dry or chapped.

Only you can decide whether Ferveo makes sense for your organization. For now, you have the awareness and understand the value.

Industries, Organizations, and Venues that Can Benefit Most from Ferveo

Does your organization really need better hand hygiene? How important to your functioning is it really?

You don’t have a mass epidemic going on every year. So, everything must be okay with your organization, right?

Well, not so fast. Remember, the New York Times reported 100,000 patient deaths are caused each year in the medical industry by poor hand hygiene. That results in $30 billion in unnecessary expenses too.

This in an industry where hand hygiene is of the utmost importance. You’d think this industry would have extremely high awareness of the issue, and clear policies to make sure hand hygiene gets followed to the fullest extent possible.

Will poor hand hygiene, and the resulting spread of illness, lead to the same consequences at your organization?

Probably not. But it could cost you a lot of money and productivity, which you could otherwise use to beat your competition.

Take a look at some industries, organizations, and venues that can benefit most from good hand hygiene practices and products like Ferveo:

  • Healthcare
    Clearly, any organization in the medical industry can benefit from better hand hygiene practices and products. Ferveo, for example, kills 99.99% of bacteria in less than 5 seconds – without a strong scent or taste.
    Sanitizers do the same in 15 seconds. Antimicrobial soaps do it in 30. And general purpose soap takes 60 seconds.
    Often, they have bothersome pungent odors and tastes.
    In an industry where you’re constantly on the go and saving lives, a product that works in 5 seconds or less simply makes sense.
  • Food
    Your employees constantly touch food. They wash their hands many times per day. Do they really wait 15, 30, or even 60 seconds between the time they wash their hands and touch more food to make sure it does its job killing bacteria?
    Or, do they get right back to work as soon as they’re done washing?
    With Ferveo, they only have 5 seconds of downtime. That’s a boost for productivity. And it leads to far fewer illnesses that could be caused by your food.
  • Schools and Universities
    Schools with young children always have high rates of illness. It’s just the nature of the work.
    While you won’t be able to stop every last illness from happening, you can dramatically reduce them with better handwashing policy and a fast-acting product.
    Lesser illness means better education for your students. It leads to fewer teacher absences. Parents are less stressed.

Everyone becomes a winner.

Yes, Ferveo Drives True Business Value

Regardless of the type of organization you run, improved hand hygiene helps your bottom line. You just have to take the time to make the calculation and figure out the real impact. But as you can see, hand hygiene products like Ferveo can absolutely make a noticeable difference for your employees and your bottom line.

5 Food Safety Trends to Stay Ahead of For 2017 and Beyond

Every industry has emerging trends to watch for. What’s the latest in food safety?

Here’s some of the current thinking:

Full Digitization of Supply Chains

Leading retailers like Amazon and Target have sophisticated supply chains monitored and optimized by technology. They can make precision decisions regarding all the products they sell, and exactly how and when to ship food so it stays safe also.

The food industry as a whole lags behind retail’s top dogs. The movement towards using technological devices and analytics will experience tremendous growth now and in the future.

Food Safety Recalls Simply Won’t Go Away

With technology and monitoring increasing, recalls likely won’t decrease. Technology will catch the problems earlier so they cause less harm. And it will catch more products than are currently being caught.

Because sophisticated technology isn’t implemented at many companies, recalls won’t go down this year. However, that may change in future years.

Government Regulation from FSMA Will Be in Full Force

FSMA recognizes it’s better to prevent food safety problems than it is to let them happen and clean up the resulting mess. You’ve known this change would be coming. And here it is.

Now, the FDA will audit the big companies. Detailed recordkeeping will be kept around all recalls and outbreaks. You must have corrective actions ready to go when mistakes happen. And in the worst cases, the FDA could shut down your company’s operations.

Home Delivery Will Continue To Take Off

Blue Apron, HelloFresh, and Plated all deliver gourmet food directly to your doorstep. Of course, that’s going to raise some food safety issues also. How do you time the delivery to ensure the food stays fresh?

Millennials love these food services. And since they’re the largest generation of any kind (numbering around 90 million), it appears as though demand for this will remain high.

Interest Will Continue to Grow in Natural and Organic Foods

While our nation as a whole doesn’t watch its diet, there is a growing interest in organic and natural foods. Organic food sales reached a record $43.3 billion in 2015. That’s up from around $28 billion in 2012. Quick math shows that’s around 50% growth.

Consumers will remain willing to pay higher prices for organic foods. And in relation to safety, you’ll have to continue to work with reputable suppliers you can trust to deliver safe organic foods.

That’s what we see happening in 2017 and the future. Which of these correlates most closely to what your company does?

Are Organic Foods Truly Safer Than Non-Organic?

Consumers buy organic foods believing they’re safer than their non-organic counterparts. They don’t get sprayed with pesticides, so on the surface, this seems true in that respect.

To explore this further, researchers identified 18 outbreaks between 1992 and 2014 that possibly were caused by organic food products. The outbreaks caused 779 illnesses, 258 hospitalizations, and 3 deaths.

That sounds surprising, and not so good. But is it something to actually get worried and upset about?

Interestingly, 56% of the outbreaks studied happened between 2010 and 2014. The study’s authors say this likely results from the increasing production and consumption of organic foods.

At the same time, data generally was not available. The meaning of “organic” has changed over the decades, and didn’t have an official definition until 2000. In addition, state and local health departments are typically understaffed and underfunded, and they frequently don’t have the data necessary to study available. Because of the changing understanding of “organic,” and the difficulties collecting data, it could be that many organically-caused outbreaks weren’t recorded as such.

At this point, the study concluded that you can’t necessarily assume organic milk and produce are any safer than their conventionally grown counterparts. It’s generally perceived both are safer. But it’s not necessarily true.

Standards for Organic Growth Don’t Address Some Safety Issues

Today’s organic standards, set by the USDA, simply say organic food can’t be grown with persistent use of pesticides and GMO seeds. Livestock must be raised without antibiotics or hormones. However, current organic food standards don’t address microbial or chemical hazards.

Studies have found pesticide residue on organically grown produce. However, the general finding has been that lower concentrations are present on organic product.

It seems like you could draw the obvious conclusion that organic food with lesser pesticide residue would have fewer instances of illness than food with persistent pesticide use. However, there is limited data available on the harm that legal pesticide use causes (if any). Most existing studies agree the benefits gained from using lesser pesticides are negligible. This is a contentious subject, so you will find differing strong opinions.

While researchers figure out the truth, your customers should simply treat organic produce just like non-organic produce. For now, you can keep giving your customers what they want, and follow the same strict safety standards for both organic and non-organic produce.

Compliance for Produce Safety Rule May Extend Well Beyond January 2018

After the FDA’s mid-February meeting led by Commissioner Stephen Ostroff, companies learned they’ll likely not have to comply with the Produce Safety Rule until after January 2018. Currently, there is debate about the water quality requirements, as producers claim the current legislation is “burdensome.” And the industry is debating additional proposed legislation because it’s written in a vague, and unclear way.

The current legislation would affect produce growers who grow fruits, vegetables, tree nuts, and other specialty crops.

What Does the Produce Safety Rule Regulate?

First proposed in 2013 under the Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA), the produce rule went under extensive testing through public meetings, webinars, and firsthand visits to farms across the nation. Revisions were made which led to the rule becoming more practical, flexible, and effective. It wasn’t passed in its current form until a couple years later.

The current rule regulates agricultural water quality to eliminate generic E. coli from a farm’s water supply. For example, E. coli must not be present in water used:

  • To wash hands during and after harvest
  • On food contact surfaces
  • To directly contact produce
  • For making ice during or after harvest
  • To help with sprout irrigation

If general E. coli is found in any of this water, famers must immediately discontinue its usage, and take corrective action before use continues once again. There is additional legislation on water, and how agricultural farms use it. Much of the debate about compliance currently centers around this legislation.

The rest of the produce safety law regulates:

  • Raw manure usage
  • Stabilized compost
  • Sprout contamination (frequently associated with foodborne illness outbreaks)
  • How farms use grazing animals
  • Worker health and hygiene
  • Equipment, tools, and buildings

The rule does not apply to produce not in its raw or natural state. For example, that means asparagus, a number of kinds of beans, chickpeas, coffee beans, horseradish, okra, peanuts, pecans, peppermint, and many grains.

The law permits states, tribes, and counties to apply for variances, which are exceptions to various parts of the produce rule.

Do Your Vendors Work With Companies Who Comply With the Produce Rule?

Your customers ultimately judge you by the quality of your food. If they get ill from your food, they hold you responsible (even if it wasn’t technically your fault).

So the question for your vendors is: how can they reassure you they get food from farmers who comply with the Produce Rule?

Only build relationships with ones that make you feel comfortable they work with farmers who are in full compliance with this rule, to the best of their knowledge.

Will Food Regulations Tighten Up in 2017 and Beyond?

Think food safety law is tight? It’s unclear, but it seems as though it may not tighten up anytime soon.

According to the Chicago Council on Global Affairs, Americans find many aspects of food safety and management important. However, their greatest concerns are “…affordability, nutrition, and food safety.”

Americans place a high degree of trust in the FDA. But they trust the food industry itself and the media least of all, according to the same article.

What’s Driving All This?

America has a strong infatuation with food. Think of all the celebrity chefs and cooking shows you see on TV. Netflix documentaries about food get high viewership rates. As a result, it only naturally follows that Americans have a strong interest in the policy protecting the food they eat.

However, the current presidential administration isn’t necessarily supporting the creation of additional legislation. The Congressional House has already passed the Regulatory Accountability Act, while the Senate is working on its own version.

If the whole act successfully passed, here’s the rough process you could expect for any new food safety rule:

  • The FDA and USDA would be forced to consider many regulatory options
  • Judges, whose job it would be to question the FDA’s and USDA’s experts, would then review these proposed rules in two separate reviews
  • Both the Senate and House would then have to give their final approval of any proposed legislation

The Food Industry As a Whole Supports Additional Legislation

While the current administration wants to reduce federal regulatory power, the food industry itself supports it. The effect of additional regulation is that consumers have more trust and confidence in the food industry. In addition, it puts unethical companies out of business.

The previous administration’s support of the Food Safety Modernization Act, signed into law in 2011, was viewed as a big step forward for food safety because of its shift to a preventative (versus reactive) approach to food safety.

What Can You Do?

Even though public opinion sways in the opposite direction of federal action, that doesn’t mean you need to sit by the wayside. You may not have the ability to influence federal regulation.

However, you could create your own in-house standards above and beyond the current requirements of federal regulation. Then, you can market this fact to consumers. They may not trust your own standards as much as federal ones. But when they see you holding yourself to a higher standard than federal law, they’ll take that seriously to a degree.

It’s an idea for creating trust and confidence in consumers when the powers that be don’t support what the public wants.

Should You Use IoT to Manage Your Food’s Safety?

Woman at a grocery store talking on the phone

You’ve probably at least heard chatter about the “internet of things.” You may have heard sensational stories of remarkable business transformations IoT has made possible.

Those are real. In 2010, Ericsson CEO Hans Vestburg first made the prediction that the world will have 50 billion connected devices by 2020. In 2011, Dave Evans, a Cisco employee, made the same prediction.

What Is IoT?

You may not yet have a concrete idea of the internet of things. Basically, it’s hooking up sensors throughout your building in places that weren’t previously possible. You can now do this because it’s finally become cost-effective enough to mass-produce sensors so nearly every business can afford them.

Why Should C-Stores Care about IoT?

IoT sensors automate a lot of manual labor. And when you have them integrated properly into your c-store and business processes, you can actually predict and respond to anticipated future events before they happen. Attempt to do the same on your own, and you shoot your labor costs through the roof.

For example, IoT sensors could monitor your stock of a certain brand of candy bar, and then automatically order more when you need them. Multiply this by a thousand times across all your stores, and that’s where the savings start to pile up. Then, you may be able to use the data to make more intelligent business decisions.

But Don’t Use IoT Because It’s The Next Hot Trend

There’s no doubt the internet of things makes sense for many businesses. Many are adopting it already.

But that doesn’t necessarily mean you should. Elliot Grant, founder of Harvest Mark, a traceability company that serves the food industry, recommends:

“Having more data doesn’t necessarily give you more insight. So my recommendation is to identify what are the key drivers of risk and opportunity that could potentially be improved with more measurements.”

He also adds that you should take a thousand measurements by hand to see if the data you harvest from that process actually makes any difference for your company. Once you understand how that does (or does not) help your business, then you should make a decision on using the internet of things.

IoT will be a megatrend in business. But only you can decide if it makes sense for yours.

 

New Technology Puts a Dent in Norovirus’s Ability to Infect Food

preparing food, organic food and drink photo

“Norovirus” sounds intimidating, and it is certainly unpleasant. But, it only causes unpleasant gastrointestinal problems (nausea, stomach pain, vomiting, and diarrhea) for a few days. While it’s certainly not the end of the world, it’s not something you want your customers to get. And, there’s currently no medication that effectively works against it.

But now, researcher Hamada Aboubakr has found an effective treatment for it: sterilization with cold plasma. The problem up to this point has been that whatever’s being sterilized can’t handle the process. Usually, it gets damaged to the point where it’s not edible anymore.

But, Aboubakr’s methodology works a little different. Be warned, as this gets a little complex to discuss.  Aboubakr used a two-dimensional air–based micro-discharge plasma array (2D-AMPA) which generates plasma from two dimensions in air instead of using pure gases. The methodology also uses lower power, which makes it cost-effective and environmentally friendly. This method can also be used for surface decontamination.

For Food Safety, The Results are Significant

Summing up the results, the basic idea is that this technology can be used to eliminate 99% of norovirus particles. Because of the way the process happens, it works on romaine lettuce without causing damage. And it’s believed the technology can be adapted for restaurants, cruise ships, and grocery stores. By extension, it could also logically be a great fit for your c-store and food items that hit your shelves.

Since about 20 million Americans get infected with norovirus each year, that makes it a prevalent condition in need of treatment. No one’s estimated the particular results that could be expected. But, it is believed this could put quite a dent in the 20 million annual infections in the US.

Keep Your Eyes and Ears Open

4 Ways to Ensure Food Safety at Your C-Store

Car Refueling at Gas Station during the Night

It goes through the mind of every c-store manager: what if something bad happens with your food safety, and you suddenly find yourself at odds with the FDA?

Such scenarios can happen, even if you work hard at keeping your food safe for your customers. Take a look at some of these tips, and make sure you’re implementing them at your c-store:

  1. Make Sure Your Team Knows Your Food Safety Procedures and Best Practices

It all starts with your employees. How often do you have them brush up on food safety best practices? If you have a regular routine in place, how do you reinforce this behavior on a consistent basis?

Do you reward your team for making less than a certain amount of mistakes? Everyone needs consistent practice (beyond your routine trainings) to stay at the top of their game so mistakes don’t happen.

  1. What’s Your Handwashing Policy?

Believe it or not, the simplest problems usually lead to the most food safety issues. That includes washing your hands. Do your employees wash their hands for at least 20 seconds before and after they handle raw meat?

In the medical care industry, professionals fail to wash their hands and cause hundreds of thousands of unnecessary or premature patient deaths annually. If the problem’s that prevalent in an industry where professionals should understand the importance of washing their hands, what might the true extent of it be in relation to your food’s safety?

  1. Educate Your Shoppers Too

Your shoppers do have some responsibility in the safety of their food too. They should refrigerate their food, and especially their meat, as soon as they get home. They should also wash their hands for seconds before and after they handle meat. And they should keep their meat products separate from all other food.

If they grab food that you keep hot, they should do so with a piece of wax paper, just in case they decide not to take that item. In-store signs and notifications through your app are two possible ways to fill them in on the dangers of not paying attention to food safety.

  1. Work with Suppliers You Trust

You can’t control what your suppliers do in relation to food safety. But you can have a conversation with them about how they do it. And if you don’t feel comfortable with your current supplier, you can change to a different one. Remember, when you have food safety issues that go public, you don’t get a pass, even if it was your supplier’s fault.

If you follow these 4 tips, you’ll keep your food safe at your c-store. And you’ll look good to your customers too.

3 Common Causes of Foodborne Illness – And What You Can Do About Each

Protect Your Melon

Each year, 1 in 6 Americans, or about 16% of the population, gets a foodborne illness, according to the CDC. Often, people don’t even know the true source of their symptoms because foodborne illness seems like the stomach flu, and it may take up to a week before symptoms appear.

Even though the US has some of the safest food in the world, you still have a reasonable potential for getting your customers sick. Take a look at a few of the most common causes, and learn what you can do about each:

  1. Know the Safety Processes of Your Meat Processors

Animals, even healthy ones, can carry infectious bacteria in their intestines. When raised on the farm, they may eat in fields spread in manure. Once processed in a plant, their intestines can come into contact with their own, or other, parts of animals sold to your customers.

What you can learn: Always know what your suppliers do to keep their food safe. Also, ask them if they have a food safety program they expect their vendors to follow.

  1. Two Strains of Bacteria Can Grow, Even In Refrigerated Conditions

Again, according to the CDC, Listeria monocytogenes and Yersinia enterocolitica can grow at refrigerator temperatures. For all other types of bacteria, proper refrigeration prevents growth.

Cooking food to an internal temperature of 160 degrees or greater kills parasites, viruses, and bacteria. However, there’s an exception to that too. Clostridium bacteria produce spores that are only killed when temperatures increase to above boiling.

What you can learn: Make sure your suppliers and their vendors account for these exceptions in their processes. You don’t want to take the fall for their mistakes.

  1. Fruits and Vegetables are Difficult to Keep Safe for Your Customers

Fruits and veggies do get processed in unsanitary conditions sometimes. Much of their safety depends on the quality of water used to wash them after picking. Fresh manure can be used to fertilize fruits and vegetables too, which poses obvious risks. In rare cases, the bacteria present in them can lead to death, according to Harvard Men’s Health Watch.

What you can learn: Harvard Men’s Health Watch recommends you wash fruits and vegetables in clean water and peel them yourself. Educate your customers to do this.

Keeping your food safe is not always easy, or in your control. However, by understanding these common causes of foodborne illness, you can minimize risk to your customers and c-store.