You know that sign you get in the loo at hotels and airports? The one that tells you when the place was last inspected?
Well, I was outside my local supermarket, waiting for the rain to stop, when I saw something similar next to the front door.
Except it wasn’t the same.
Instead of “last cleaned”, it said “last sterilised”.
“Sterilised”. As in “all germs removed”. Like a hospital operating room.
And the sign meant the whole supermarket – plus the warehouse area and cold store – and the staff area upstairs. I know ‘cos I went in and asked the manager. A bit unusual wasn’t it, for a neighbourhood grocer’s?
The manager had this evil grin. They’re a family operation, holding their own in the war for the high street.
“It’s our secret weapon,” he said. “And we’ve got the big names cold. Next time you read about some fridge that hasn’t been cleaned, or mice in the meat section, you’re gonna remember this place and how we’re sterilised every night.”
Every night? I was surprised. Wasn’t it only necessary once a week or something?
The manager was amazing. Busy bloke, yet he took time to natter – “forward facing customer skills” I think they call it. Anyway he had ’em, in spades.
Yes, every night, because germs are all around all the time. You can fit a billion of them on the head of a pin, they’re too small to see. But we drag them around with us – on our skin, on our clothes, followed by a hovering cloud of hazard, wherever we go.
Which means that the store might be germ-free when they open the doors. But by the end of the day it needs doing again. Just like all the counters have to be washed, the floors swept and the shelves disinfected. The daily hygiene habit for business.
Then I asked him how it was done.
And that was amazing too. Because the whole thing was touch-free, nobody lifted a finger. They cleaned the place first, then rolled in this thing like an electronic wheelie bin, and hit a button.
Apparently what it does is mist up the place with hydrogen peroxide, clouds of it everywhere – all through the shop and the shelves and chillers – right into the cracks and crevices too.
Now I remember hydrogen peroxide. My gran used to put it on cuts and scrapes when we were little. Same story, to kill the germs. It used to fizz and foam like crazy. Kind of cool and it didn’t sting. Too iffy for today’s ‘elf and safety wonks.
This fog, it seems, is pretty high tech. It’s a super-fine mist, way thinner than steam or water vapour. And it’s ionised, so it attracts itself to airborne particles like floating microbes, clings fast to surfaces like worktops and shelves – underneath as much as on top – all the hidden areas that tend to get neglected.
It gets better. Cos the stuff is boosted with colloidal silver, another known germ-fighter from the old days. This boosts performance big time, because no known bacteria can survive against even minute traces of silver, especially in its colloidal state.
Forty-five minutes is all it takes. They have three of these machines misting up the place at the same time – the shop first, then the cold store, then the warehouse – in pace with staff clocking off to go home.
Impressive stuff. Which means the manager’s right. I’m not going to go spend my bucks in the superstore, even though they do cost less. I’m going to my local in the high street – a sterilised oasis in a sea of germs – and I don’t have to use that self-service checkout which drives me crazy.
No point taking chances when I don’t have to.