Home Publisher's Point of View New Research Much Fuel for the Fire in Ongoing Dispenser Debate

New Research Much Fuel for the Fire in Ongoing Dispenser Debate

Glenn Hasek

As you consider whether to implement dispensers in your guestroom bathrooms, or what type of dispenser to install, consider the results of a new study conducted on behalf of Clean the World (CTW). CTW gave Green Lodging News exclusive access to the Executive Summary of the report that should be available in its entirety in early 2020.

Research conducted by the University of Arizona (UA) showed a 100 percent bacterial contamination rate in refillable dispensers that contain shampoo, body wash, conditioner, hand soap, or lotion. Of 82 samples taken, 63 (76 percent) yielded bacterial numbers greater than 1,000 colony-forming units per gram of product (CFU per gram), and 40 samples (49 percent) exceeded 10,000 CFU per gram. According to The Center for Food Safety and Applied Nutrition, for non-eye-area products, counts should not be greater than 1,000 CFU per g or mL.

Shawn Seipler, President and CEO of Clean the World, told me, “We were surprised that it was 76 percent and by the level of contamination of bacteria.” He added that the report makes a strong case for the use of non-refillable dispensers that use sealed, recyclable containers.

The methodology for the study? Dr. Charles Gerba led the research team that included seven others. Forty rooms were booked in 20 hotels (two rooms per hotel). UA researchers stayed at the hotels as guests and collected the samples aseptically by dispensing 20 to 25 mL of the respective sample type into sterile 50‐mL conical tubes. The samples were placed into a cooler and held under refrigeration conditions (4 °C to 10 °C) until assaying for heterotrophic plate count bacteria (within 48 hours of sample collection). The properties included in the study were in the four-star or three-star range.

Driven by Growing Interest in Dispensers

What prompted the research by CTW? According to Seipler, the jump in recent industry interest in dispensers prompted the concern about how safe and healthy refillable dispensers are. CTW came across the work of Dr. Gerba and the work he did on dispensers in public restrooms.

Dr. Gerba’s team concluded that the high culturable bacterial levels in 76 percent of the samples demonstrates the vulnerability of refillable dispensers to bacterial growth, and potentially to cross-contamination during the refilling process. According to Dr. Gerba, bulk soap-refillable dispensers are prone to bacterial contamination, as supported by several reported outbreaks linked to the use of contaminated soap in health care settings.

Why not just sanitize refillable dispensers? According to the report, once bacteria colonize the refillable dispensers, it is extremely difficult and challenging to completely cleanse a contaminated dispenser and to inhibit the future growth of bacteria. According to a Montana State University research study, bacterial counts in bulk soap dispensers returned to pre-wash contaminated levels within two weeks, regardless of the washing procedure. (See related video.)

I am about to publish an article comparing refillable with non-refillable dispensers. What I quickly learned in my research is the wide array of viewpoints, especially within the supplier community, on dispenser hygiene, operations and what is best for hotels and their guests. Perhaps this new research will add some clarity to the issue? Your thoughts? I can be reached at greenlodgingnews@gmail.com.

Green Lodging News Welcomes ffuuss to Green Product & Service Directory

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