What Companies are Doing About… Footwear

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June 8, 2020

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34% of facilities have no footwear hygiene system.

Shoes and boots can be a significant source of contamination in a food facility. As was stated in a 2008 University of Arizona study, and has been recently reinforced by coronavirus transmission research (such as that explained in a Penn State Extension article), bacteria can be carried into food facilities on the surfaces and soles of workers’, visitors’, and customers’ shoes.

In the University of Arizona research, coliform and E. coli bacteria were found on 96% of the outside of shoes studied, indicating frequent contact with fecal material. The study also indicated that bacteria can be tracked by shoes over a long distance.

Despite these findings, 34% of food facilities have no footwear hygiene system (Figure 13) and 57% do not provide boots or shoe coverings for employees or visitors (Figure 14). There may be some overlap between these — with those not providing boots or shoe covers instead having a footwear hygiene system. However, with Figure 3 (page 2) showing that 13% of respondents saw shoe/boot sanitation as having little or no importance, we can likely assume that at least 13% have no procedures in place for reducing bacterial contamination of foot traffic.

It is also feasible that at least some of the 34% (in Figure 14) who have no footwear hygiene system are among the 34% (in Figure 15) who provide boots or shoe covers for the purpose of further preventing contamination. However, having no footwear hygiene system — such as the footbath/boot dip and floor foamer used by 25% and 21%, respectively — provides for no control of the contamination that could be carried into a food area on the wheels of equipment and tools. ?