When it comes to kitchen safety, you
know the drill: Wash hands thoroughly with soap and water. Use
separate cutting boards for meats and vegetables to avoid cross
contamination. Keep work surfaces clean and dry. Clean biofilms off
appliances like coffee makers and water coolers.
How do I clean biofilms?
And what are biofilms, anyway?
"Biofilms are offensive slimes," says Michael J. Hurst,
BSc(Hons) FRSPH, consulting microbiologist, principal, Watermark
Consultancy. "They act as food for fast-growing bacteria and can be
a hazard in the kitchen."
Biofilms promote bacteria growth, helping them colonize quickly
to slippery, gooey surfaces that can give off an unusual odor.
"Biofilms can act as
foodfor fast-growing bacteria."
-Michael J. Hurst,
In fact, many homeowners might not being paying enough attention
to notice the formation of biofilms-especially in hidden appliance
parts, such as the reservoir of their bottled water cooler.
"Regardless of make or model, all bottled water coolers have a
reservoir," explains Hurst. "If not maintained and cleaned
properly, water cooler reservoirs can harbor lots of rapidly
multiplying bacteria. Choosing a water cooler that is easy to clean
How Contamination Begins
While it's virtually impossible to create a completely sterile
environment in any home, says Hurst, when it comes to bottled water
coolers, you can limit exposure by following these safe-handling
- Always wash hands before handling your cooler's water bottles,
especially when loading a new bottle into the unit.
- When possible, avoid touching the neck of the water bottle
during refilling (even with clean hands).
- Keep dirty hands and fingers or unsanitary plastic bottles from
direct contact with water cooler faucets.
- Choose water coolers with easy to clean and maintain reservoirs
- Steer clear of using aerosols or other contaminants around the
water cooler itself, since these things can be drawn into the
cooler when the water is dispensed.
- Position the water cooler in a convenient kitchen location away
from where you handle meat and greens, since there have been
incidences of dangerous bacteria coming from foods like spinach and
Time to Clean: Signs & Symptoms
Of course, it's best to clean all kitchen appliances
regularly-and that includes bottled water coolers and their
reservoirs. Set a cleaning schedule you can remember, such as the
last day of the month or the same day you clean your coffee maker
Not sure when you last cleaned? Here are some tell-tale signs
that your water cooler is overdue for its regular cleaning:
- Stale or foul-tasting water
- Slight odor or cloudiness to the water
- Visible slime on faucets or reservoir
- Discolored surfaces on cooler waterway
How to Clean
Hurst recommends cleaning water coolers inside and out with soap
and water, peroxide or a sanitation product like Cooler Clean, then
rinsing well with plain water to remove residuals.
To avoid the internal parts problem inherent in water coolers
with fixed reservoirs, Hurst recommends OASIS International's Nautica
Series Bottle Coolers with their patented removable
Featuring a smooth, scratch-resistant, plastic surface, OASIS
Removable Reservoirs easily disassemble for simple, effective
cleaning in the dishwasher.
"With the OASIS RR line of bottled coolers it takes less than 3
minutes to remove all the parts that require cleaning," says Hurst.
"All you have to do is run them through a standard dishwasher cycle
and then just as easily assemble and replace. It's truly the
easiest cooler in the world to sanitize and the most popular cooler
in Europe where I live because it makes complying with our
sanitization requirements a snap."
OASIS offers two bottle cooler models with Removable Reservoirs,
discover the options: