Environmental specialist Filta Group has launched a new sanitising service which kills coronavirus and leaves workplaces hygienic. Catering Insight hears how the service will give hospitality businesses the assurances they need as they welcome back staff and open their doors to the public again…
Fandangled cooking suites and whizzy combi ovens might grab all the glory in commercial kitchens, but unless you master the nitty-gritty of regular maintenance for all those parts that keep everything ticking along nicely, you’re quickly going to run into problems.
One company that knows a thing or two about that is Filta Group. The company provides cooking oil filtration and fryer management services to more than 6,000 customers globally every week, in addition to wastewater pumping and treatment, refrigeration seal replacement services and automated extraction duct cleaning.
Given its expertise in dealing with the issues that most operators are only too glad to offload to someone else, it is perhaps no surprise that the business has now expanded into hygiene and cleansing services with its FiltaShield solution.
Commercial director, Edward Palin, explains: “FiltaShield was developed for two reasons: primarily to help our customers reopen — we need restaurants to operate for our business to operate — but secondly to develop new markets because we thought there might be a better way of doing what needs to be done, which is sanitising and treating areas.”
As well as sanitising facilities using a broad-spectrum disinfectant, FiltaShield provides ongoing protection beyond what operators might ordinarily be used to by treating surfaces with a protective layer that harnesses nanotechnology to create a layer of microscopic pins.
“It’s actually a physical reaction rather than a chemical reaction and those pins prevent microbes from sticking to the surfaces,” explains Palin.
“Some companies have disinfectants with up to seven days’ protection, the product we’re using has up to 30 days’ protection. The technology was originally developed by the military for preventing algae from growing on submarines. It’s been used now to stop viruses sticking to classroom tables, which is a real transition during this crisis of bringing technology from outside the industry into the industry.”
Filta licences the technology from Australian antibacterial products specialist Zoono but its own technicians carry out the service using fogging machines and misting systems. Its engineers are well-versed with working in hospitality environments.
“We understand the industry, we understand the dynamics, we understand access times and we understand what is required to operate in a customer-involved environment or a public environment, so we feel well-placed to deliver this technology into the sector,” he says.
FiltaShield is prescribed as a 30-day planned maintenance programme, which includes the identification of frequent touch points, application of the treatment and the swab-testing of areas to record microbial activity and provide a secondary check against cleaning.
The technology we use for Filtashield was originally developed by the military for preventing algae from growing on submarines”
“One thing from talking to environmental health professionals recently is that you’ve got operators, for example, that are moving to a situation where staff are being deployed to carry out cleaning when they may not be trained in cleaning.
“Cleaning done badly can actually increase the risk of cross-contamination and staff who didn’t used to clean but have been asked to now could cause more problems if they are not appropriately trained. As part of our monthly visit with the FiltaShield service we will swab-test tables, bartops, handles, and check the microbial readings within those areas. It is an added layer of confidence.”
Cleansing and hygiene seem like a natural extension to the range of services that Filta offers but the rate at which the world has been affected by the Covid-19 pandemic has certainly accelerated the speed at which FiltaShield has brought the solution to market.
For Palin, it is all about risk reduction and that is something at the forefront of operators’ minds as they prepare to open their businesses in conjunction with guidelines around health and safety.
Along with its ThermoGuard temperature screening stations, which form part of the overall solution by reducing the risk of viruses entering premises, he expects FiltaShield to play a critical role in front-of-house areas.
“Kitchen environments are inherently clean spaces anyway. It’s actually front-of-house — tables, bars, handles — where transmission rates are much higher. If somebody came to work in the back of a kitchen and they were unwell, even pre-coronavirus the manager would spot that and ask them to go home.
“With the prevalence of coronavirus now, you’ve got the general public coming in to think about. If someone came into a pub historically you wouldn’t screen customers for health concerns and conditions, whereas there have always been those inbuilt safety measures back-of-house. It’s front-of-house where we feel FiltaShield really provides that added measure of risk reduction.
“Some customers we’ve spoken to have had our service to make their staff feel safer about coming back to work, and I think for customers there is a huge leap in terms of confidence to get back into a hospitality environment. Therefore, to have an additional measure of risk reduction helps with the confidence of the customer.”
Unsurprisingly, Filta has been inundated with enquiries from sectors outside of its core hospitality market, including schools, offices and gyms, but as restaurants reopen again there is no doubt where it expects many of its technicians to be deployed.
“We are focused on hospitality and supporting operators, be it through fryer maintenance, replacement seals, grease management or FiltaShield. We see the heightened awareness of hygiene as a long-term requirement or issue for the industry. Coronavirus has really taken everybody by surprise in terms of the impact it has had and we are all having to adapt our business models as a consequence.
“I think the visibility of hygiene within a restaurant environment is going to be a requirement now and for quite some time in the future.”
Like the other essential services that Filta offers to keep the wheels of commercial kitchens turning, FiltaShield is here to stay.
How does FiltaShield work?
A Filta technician will arrive on-site and spray or fog a light mist of its antiviral sanitising solution, which eliminates all envelope viruses, flu and up to 99.99% of bacteria from an area.
Technicians are specially trained in identifying at-risk surfaces and will pay particular attention to any specific high-touch areas.
Filta utilises the Zoono product, which protects surfaces for up to 30 days without using any harmful poisons or chemistry. When applied to a surface by spraying, wiping or fogging, Zoono leaves behind a mono-molecular layer of pins, which create a hostile barrier to germs that physically impale and destroy germs that come in contact with it.
Technicians will then schedule to revisit the customer before the 30 days is up to reapply the solution, providing an ongoing barrier against the virus. After each visit, Filta swab-tests high-touch areas to prove that the virus is no longer present and leaves behind a certificate of sanitisation that can help operators build confidence with employees and customers.
As workplaces and public areas start to open, scanning people for elevated skin temperature is set to become the norm. Filta’s free-standing screening station, ThermoGuard comes installed, is easy to operate and requires minimal staff intervention.
The camera is highly accurate with a range of 0.5°C and is able to detect elevated skin temperature of up to 30 people per second. If a temperature above 37.5°C is detected, the camera displays a simple visual and audio alarm to notify immediately upon detection.
Opportunity for dealers expanding into Covid-secure solutions
Dealers being asked by customers for help in deploying Covid-secure restaurant environments can now provide support at the front-end by supplying Filta Group’s Thermo Guard temperature screening stations.
The Thermo Guard Solo and Thermo Guard Hi-Flow offer non-contact measurement to avoid physical contact.
The Solo, available as a counter stand, short stand (60cm), tall stand (100cm) or wall-mounted model, takes the temperature of one person every two seconds to enable steady and safe traffic into restaurants and other venues. Its thermal imaging is powered by Heimann Sensor to reduce false alarms.
The unit is able to measure from 0.3 – 0.8 metres in a temperature range of 28°C to 43°C. Access control can sync with automatic doors or ticket systems to restrict entry for those with a fever and there is an option for facial recognition to capture and store data.
The Hi-Flow model, with set-up included from Filta Group, offers screening of up to 30 people per second. The system features artificial intelligence to reduce false alarms and can detect a temperature range of 30°C to 45°C with an accuracy range of +/- 0.5 ºC.
All models are claimed to offer accurate and reliable temperature detection without contact, as well as alarms to notify upon detection. Setup is included, with no onsite IT support or connection required, whilst intuitive technology should mean minimal operator training is required.
Edward Palin, commercial director at Filta Group, said: “Keeping public spaces as safe as possible is vital to avoid a ‘stop-start’ lockdown situation. Overseas, we have seen track and trace drill down to specific premises.
“With approximately 60% of Covid-19 cases reporting a heightened-temperature, fever-screening systems such as the Thermo Guard provide an added layer of protection. The Thermo Guard technology is reliable, intuitive and easy-to-operate, and does not tie up staff time to operate.”
He continued: “It is not an all-encompassing solution, of course, it should be used alongside government-mandated hygiene measures both front-of-house and back-of-house. Thermo Guard helps protect staff, customers and the operator whilst giving extra visibility to paying guests of the hygiene measures being taken – something which is going to be a requirement now and for quite some-time in the future.
“We have already seen that the impact that the threat of regional lockdowns, such as that which has been imposed in Leicester, could have on businesses. It is paramount that caterers take the necessary precautions and introduce added detection measures where possible.”