The right menu for reducing bacterial transmission

Studies have shown that some of the ‘germiest’ things on a menu may literally be the menu itself! Indeed, a study* by Charles Gerba from the University of Arizona revealed that menus carried the most amount of germs, with an average count of 185,000 bacteria. He claimed that there are probably 100 times more bacteria on a menu than on a typical toilet seat in a cloakroom, which is all rather disturbing!

While most of these bacteria were not found to be harmful, experts claim the most common illnesses to be picked up were respiratory infections like colds and flu. 

As pubs, restaurants, hotels and other catering establishments open up after lockdown, hygiene and cleanliness are understandably high on their agendas. The Government’s advice for working safely during coronavirus states that in helping to keep venues clean, businesses should be: ‘Cleaning surfaces and objects between customer use. For example, cleaning tables, card machines, chairs, trays and laminated menus in view of customers before customer use.’

Restaurants have long been using laminated menus because they’re more durable and can be wiped clean in between use. But with frequent handling there is always the prospect that bacteria still remain. The ongoing pandemic has compounded the issue, with many catering establishments looking for an alternative solution to wiping clean printed items, or the considerable waste of throwing them away after every use.

Recognising such challenges, the print industry has responded by developing anti-bacterial laminating film, which works exactly like a standard laminating film but with the huge added value and benefit of eliminating 99% of bacteria.

One company,, that regularly supplies printed menus says: “It was vitally important for our customers to try and keep their experience as normal as possible. Thorough cleaning after every use wasn’t an option and neither were single use items as it became too expensive. So, we set out to find an alternative and Vivid Laminating Technologies provided us with exactly that.”

Vivid’s Boss Bloc looks like a normal laminating film but its silver ion technology provides protection between usual cleaning. The anti-bacterial effect does not leach out and is designed to last the lifetime of the product. It has also been tested and approved to ISO 22196 standards, which measure antibacterial activity on plastics and other non-porous surfaces.

Covid-19 has clearly had an impact on the way pubs and restaurants communicate their menu choices. Many establishments may have gone the digital route by encouraging customers to order via mobile apps but not everyone carries smart phones so it’s not always inclusive. Chalkboards, A-frames and large signs are another method of communicating food choices but they need to be positioned in high traffic areas to be visible from a distance, which is not always possible.

Disposable menus carry both an environmental and financial cost that few catering businesses can ill afford, especially now. So while some restaurants may have moved away from laminated menus because of concerns over being able to properly sanitise them between customers, this new anti-bacterial film provides a real solution to stop the growth of bacteria on printed items.

Boss Bloc is manufactured in Europe and has been proven to be effective against antibiotic resistant bacteria such as Escherichia coli and Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA). Therefore, the scientific consensus is that it will work against other bacteria in the same way.

As catering businesses strive to be conscious of hygiene and protecting both themselves and their customers, the advent of anti-bacterial lamination is a great contributor to that and an example of some of the innovation emerging from the print industry.  

Submitted by Vivid Laminating Technologies

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