Now, more than ever before, there’s a huge focus on sanitation. This focus is very broad and expands from your home, to your children’s school, to college campuses, to restaurants. Disposable, single-use products will help keep surfaces sanitary and you and your family healthy.

Single-use tabletop products such as placemats and napkins are key when talking about sanitation and disease prevention.

Single-use products came into use as the answer to the spread of infectious and contagious diseases at a time when common drinking cups, plates, and utensils were the norm in society.  In fact, the first single-use foodservice product was called the Health Cup, a name that described the cup’s primary benefit and value.  It was sold to schools, hospitals, tubercular facilities and other places where infectious diseases could be communicated through unsanitary reusables.

Today, a hundred years after the invention of the Health Cup, the U.S. FDA’s Food Coderequires foodservice operations to use single-use products whenever a facility’s dishwashing capability is compromised by equipment breakage, power failures, or inadequate dishwashing (such as low water temperature, weak detergent, etc.).  For this reason alone, all foodservice operators need to have a supply of single-use foodservice packaging products on hand.

The sanitary benefits of single-use products have been proven in many studies over the years, and most recently in two studies:  one in 2003 in Las Vegas conducted for the Institute by the Clark County Public Health District that compared the sanitary aspects single-use and permanent ware items in Las Vegas eating establishments, and one in 2006 in Oshkosh, Wisconsin, conducted for the Institute by the University of Wisconsin that studied tabletop bacterial contamination of restaurants that used placemats versus uncovered tables.

The Las Vegas study found “reusable foodservice items had higher microbiological levels than disposable items” and the Wisconsin study found that “single-use placemats were shown, on average, to have over seven times fewer bacteria than uncovered tables in restaurants.”

The reason that single-use products are more sanitary than their reusable counterpart is simple:  very often dishwashers don’t heat water to 140° C, the temperature necessary to assure sanitation.  In some instances, the water is hot enough, but not enough detergent is added.  In other cases, permanent ware is recontaminated by workers when they place items back into storage.