The current global pandemic has greatly heightened public awareness of the spread of infectious diseases such as the flu, common cold, and COVID-19. In response to the national emergency, the federal, state, and local governments have shut down schools and non-essential businesses, limited public gatherings, and restricted travel. Some restaurants are offering curbside service if their dining areas have been temporarily closed.
There has been a shift in the way that many Americans think about hygiene, cleanliness, and sanitation. People are paying closer attention to cleanliness, safety, and protection when they shop or eat out.
The invention of the sneeze guard is an example of ingenuity and problem-solving at its best. On March 10, 1959, John Garneau, an inventive restaurateur, filed his patent for the “Food Service Table.” This food shield became known as a “sneeze guard.” It was intended to protect food on display from bacteria and other germs that may be spread by sneezing, coughing, or breathing. It did not take long for the device to capture the attention of government inspectors. By the early 1960s, the FDA mandated the use of food guards, and similar regulations were subsequently adopted by all 50 states.
What are the basic guidelines for the installation of a sneeze guard?
Sneeze guards or similar food guards are a universal requirement for restaurants, food carts, and other venues where food is displayed or served. Each state sets its own guidelines, so foodservice vendors need to have a professional installer who knows the laws and guidelines. NSF International, a trusted name in food safety, offers very detailed instructions for food shields.
The following basic guidelines apply across the board:
- The height of any food guard needs to be tall enough for the average customer, who is between five and six feet tall.
- A buffet sneeze guard should blend in with the decor of the restaurant. Frame color, shield size, and installation affect the appearance of a restaurant. This consideration could have a dramatic effect on how a customer perceives the cleanliness and sanitation of a restaurant establishment. Positive perception is essential for repeat business. An experienced commercial glass installer can match sneeze guards and other food barriers to the restaurant décor.
- All sneeze guards, including custom-made sneeze guards, must not be movable by the customer or staff. Swinging sneeze guards cannot protect food.
What are the advantages of a glass sneeze guard?
A sneeze guard is a small glass partition wall, and its many applications include use in restaurants, buffets, coffee shops, snack bars, and food carts. Sneeze guards are mostly made of clear glass so that the customer can see the food. The clear tempered glass typically used on sneeze guards has the following advantages:
Tempered glass is significantly stronger than standard annealed glass. This added strength is recommended since customers sometimes do some strange things or have heavy objects fall out of their pockets or are unsafe with the utensils provided to serve the food.
Smooth surfaces are easy to wash and sanitize, and glass stands up well to the strong cleaners and disinfectants that are used in restaurants.
Glass can dress up the buffet line. It pairs well with the sneeze guard’s metal components. A skilled glass fabricator and installer can custom design and install sneeze guards that complement the décor, protect the food, and allow the customer and the food service worker to access the food behind the sneeze guards.
In these times of heightened hygiene awareness, the sneeze guard is indispensable for restaurants and other settings where food is prepared and served for the public. For durability, hygiene protection, and appearance, the sneeze guard is an affordable, attractive solution. An experienced, knowledgeable custom design and installation company can create or renovate a sneeze guard design to match and even enhance any décor.