Summary afternoon sessions Hygiene Forum 2017

Afternoon session 1: Home Hygiene

Afternoon session 'home hygiene' has shown that we need better communication on the importance of good hygiene to the general public. A clean, hygienic living environment is important for a healthy life - yet in many cases the general public's habits can in fact have contradictory results.

After a short introduction by the session's moderator, prof. dr. Sally Bloomfield, prof. dr. Dirk Bockmühl (Rhine-Waal University) showed the importance of the Sinner Circle in the washing of textile. The factors time, mechanical action, temperature and chemistry should all be in harmony for a clean result. This harmony is often not reached by consumers, which may lead to health risks. The challenge is therefore to find a simple, careful message to communicate the importance of hygiene to both media and the general public.

Dr. Federico Pacini (Reckitt Benckiser) continued on the topic of textile washing. There's big differences in consumer habits between countries when it comes to detergent use, temperature and the type of washing machine. A similarity however is a problem related to hygiene: the forming of biofilms in places the consumer cannot easily reach. Based on research results, dr Pachini indicated the importance of a balance between temperature and the amount of detergent, in order to prevent the forming of these biofilms (and the unpleasant odours it causes).

Rowshonara Syeda (Public Health England) showed an example of effective communication about hygiene: the e-bug project. In a collaboration with the European Commission, the project resulted in a learning programme for children, educating them on how to prevent infections through good hygiene. Based on the experiences with the programme in several European countries, the children did in fact pay more attention to their hygiene practices.

Closing the session, Ghislaine Mittendorff (Dutch Food and Consumer Product Safety Authority) gave an insight into the authorities view on hygiene problems. Their focus has now changed to behavioural changes. When good hygiene practices are in your system, you apply them everywhere, both at home and at work. It remains difficult however to stimulate changes in behaviour; is hygiene as a topic not 'sexy' enough?

Afternoon session 2: Health care

The prevention of infectious diseases is perhaps nowhere as important as in health care facilities, where patients are very susceptible to infections. Moreover, we are more and more struggling with resistance to antiobitics. Preventing the (excessive) use of antibiotics plays an important role in this struggle - and to achieve that, preventing the spread of infections.

Prof. dr. Kluytmans (Amphia Hospital Breda, UMC Utrecht) illustrated the importance of the standardisation, transparency and continuous improvement of infection prevention strategies. The Infection Risk Scan (IRIS) method provides an objective way to test the effectiveness of infection prevention strategies, for instance in a hospital ward. This information can be used to continuously improve and optimise hygiene strategies.

Innovation plays an important role in improving hygiene in health care facilities. Rita Brouwer (Alpheios) concluded this in her presentation, where she distinguished between technical and social innovations. Collaboration with multiple relevant partners plays a key role in finding and applying these innovations.

Dr. Merel Langelaar gave insight into the role of an enforcement authority: checking whether infection prevention protocols are followed correctly. Also from an enforcement point of view, hygiene levels in health care facilities still need improvement: improved checks on infections with resistant strains, better isolation procedures and the improved organisation and application of cleaning and disinfection procedures.

Afternoon session 3: Agriculture and food industry

Even though the food- and agriculture industry has established high hygiene standards in the Netherlands and the European Union, this session proved that continuous work on maintaining and updating these standards is crucial.

Dr. Bernhard Meyer (Ecolab) started a discussion with the participants: which hygiene procedures are mostly used, and are they effective enough? It may often go wrong when personnel forgets to clean parts of machinery and tanks that are not directly visible. While also in this sector targeted hygiene is necessary: disinfection at the most critical points, at the most critical times, and regular cleaning in between. To prevent resistance against a biocide it is also important not to use methods that are in between cleaning and disinfecting, like 'sanitizing'. Such methods give micro-organisms the possibility to adapt and become resistant to the biocide.

Geert Hulpia (Cid Lines) showed, based on a practical example at a diary, that the human factor is of critical importance in maintaining hygiene standards. A low price of milk may lead to the farmer having difficulties in being able to follow the right protocols. And in order to follow protocols, proper education of personnel is crucial in ensuring the proper implementation of hygiene strategies.

Gerrit van Sijpveld (Diversey) and Peter Derks (XPERT in Control) closed the session with a 'good practice'. In a collaboration between supplier, customer and a modern internet platform, they developed a system to analyse the local hygiene situation in detail. The results from this method can be used to continuously improve both procedures, systems and cleaning- and disinfection products.

Afternoon session 4: Institutional cleaning

Schools, offices and libraries; stations, sports clubs and the hospitality sector; all places where people meet. And where people meet, good hygiene is very important. This session started a discussion on the role of institutional cleaning in ensuring a good level of hygiene in an efficient way. What are key focal points in improving public hygiene?

As the first speaker, Charlotte Michels-Breukers (CareB4) pleaded for more process checks in institutional cleaning. If the cleaning process is in order, the end results will be good as well. Education of cleaners is key in this, teaching them the right methods to clean efficiently and properly. Optimising the cleaning process in this way can improve the level of hygiene in an area.

Peter Hamers (AAFM Facility Management, VSR) however voiced the necessity of a final check of a cleaning process in order to achieve proper levels of cleanliness and hygiene. While improving the process (for instance through education) will definitely contribute to a good end result, this is often not necessary in less complex cleaning environments.

Peter Molenaar (National Center of Hygiene and Safety) did not see instutional cleaning at the center of preventing infectious diseases, but rather hand hygiene. Proper cleaning procedures do however improve on the effect of good hand hygiene practices. Along with proper use of personal protection equipment, these elements combined can have a huge impact in infection prevention strategies.

Bert Schulting (Diversey) chooses a circular approach of the cleaning process. By focussing on different steps in the process each time and updating the step if necessary, continuous improvement of the total process can be achieved. Making evaluation part of the process helps in gaining higher quality results.