Sneeze Guards

Written by Sierra Rein
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Sneeze guards can be considered the unsung heroes of maintaining the health of patrons in self-serve restaurants, grocery stores and corner markets. Recognized as the plastic shields that hang around face level above a buffet or salad bar, these guards protect open-air food dispensers from the germs that may at any moment be expelled by sick customers. As both a health standard and an all-around tool of politeness, most people are quite gratified to know that the food they will be spooning onto their plates has not been breathed or sneezed on.

Every county has its own health code standard; yet most demand strict requirements regarding the placement and use of sneeze guards in schools, public eating areas and hotels. For example, the insufficient use of a sneeze guard may result in the distribution of a minor infraction of the California health inspection code. In general, this merely results in a lower inspection "grade"; however, if unchanged before the recheck, it can lead to the suspension of the facility's right to serve food to the public.

It is important that the installed sneeze guard be low enough to the ground to allow people of smaller stature to be able to see over it and onto the food. Adjustable shield posts can be purchased in order to meet the average height of the customers in question and can be found in a number of different finished metals, including polished brass and steel, brushed steel and colorized powdered metal. For hot dog stands, donut dispensers and non-horizontal feeding trays, vertical sneeze guards with doors are available.

Maintaining and Cleaning Sneeze Guards

For both health matters and attractive display purposes, sneeze guards should be sprayed down and cleaned on both sides with an antibacterial product and a clean cloth. If employees note that the guards are too low for customers to comfortably reach the food, the posts should be adjusted to make the buffet or salad bar more accessible. They should also keep an eye out for any door-operated sneeze guards left open to the elements by forgetful customers and perhaps consider putting up "please close the door" signs as a reminder.


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