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Study keys on diners’ virus safety

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Study keys on diners' virus safety

Sara Kennely wipes down a table at Max’s Allegheny Tavern in Pennsylvania in June. Researchers are interested in the effectiveness of routine cleaning against the spread of the coronavirus. (AP/Keith Srakocic) A team of researchers is working on a project to ensure customers at dine-in restaurants won’t be exposed to the virus that causes covid-19.

As more restaurants are reopening to the public, there remains limited research on how the virus can survive on different materials and transfer to a hand, then a nose or mouth. Kristen Gibson, a food scientist at the University of Arkansas, Fayetteville, and others are trying to change that.

She received a federal research grant of $987,000 to provide evidence that health precautions used across the food-service industry are working. Efforts include testing how long the SARS-CoV-2 virus can survive on materials used in "front of house" areas, such as table cloths, carpets, fabrics and furniture.

Gibson also plans to develop a fact-sheet so businesses can know what disinfectants work best. She is working on the the two-year project with researchers from Clemson University and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

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Most of today’s standards, provided by the Food and Drug Administration, are for "back of house" areas where food is handled.

Research published in the New England Journal of Medicine shows SARS-CoV-2 can linger on plastic and stainless steel for up to three days and on cardboard up to 24 hours. Researchers tested the virus on a variety of surfaces, including paper and surgical masks, and it was present between 30 minutes and seven days, another study shows. They did not measure how the virus persisted […]

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