Dining out and purchasing food is all about experience. Everything from the menu choices, to furnishings, to the staff, to how the food is presented, to how food is packaged and assembled on shelves—all are designed to lead to a pleasant sensory experience and leave customers with the desire to come back.
With this in mind, the strongest of our five senses is our sense of smell. Smell plays a crucial role in the dining and food purchasing experience, as we know. Unwanted or unpleasant odors can deter from that experience and lead to a false impression of the dining establishment or food market.
Consider this example: a seafood restaurant can take in and prepare very fresh fish, but in the course of preparation there is waste that needs to be disposed of. This waste is held in a garbage room or dumpster and as it sits and breaks down, odorous bacteria can grow and odors have the potential to enter the dining areas, giving the impression that the fish is not fresh. This is a common problem in supermarkets with fish departments. While everything is being done correctly, odors are a natural by-product that need to be dealt with.
One effective strategy for dealing with unwanted and distracting odors is through purifying the air and reducing the contaminants that lead to odors. An extremely effective technology for this is bi-polar air ionization, which is the introduction of positive and negative air ions into spaces which can aid in minimizing or eliminating odors in the air, as well as airborne viruses and other bacteria.
Gasses can also lead to odors and deterioration of food. Ethylene gas, which is produced by many fruits and vegetables, will increase mold growth and lead to spoilage of produce. Bi-Polar ions are very effective at breaking down ethylene, eliminating the odors and also improving the shelf life of produce as less saturation of ethylene gas will forestall the spoilage process.
Also, it can be expected that some food establishments may fall victim to odors beyond their control. In these cases, the bi-polar ion systems are quite effective, as these systems can integrate with the building’s heating and cooling systems to supply ions with the conditioned air and reduce contaminants while providing cleaner, odor-free air. In turn, the overall patron and customer experience is significantly improved.
Some business-types have already incorporated these technological solutions into their strategies. Gaming casinos, such as Hard Rock Casino, Stations Casinos and Wynn, which have to accommodate the odor of smoke inside their spaces, have used these systems to reduce odors in their gaming areas and also in the restaurants within the casino.
Finally, staff is a vital piece of any food establishment, and this technology can support retention and acquisition of workers. Establishments often need a high ratio of staff to customers to ensure a pleasant experience and good service. For example, the EPA estimates that businesses lose 60 billion dollars per year due to lost productivity. By keeping the air inside cleaner, fresher and healthier, the spread of germs and illness is reduced and absenteeism is also reduced.
Air is one amenity that will touch all aspects in a food service establishment, from the staff to the patrons, to the food itself. As careful choices are made with many other amenities, careful consideration should be given to the indoor air to help ensure the positive experience the establishment needs to provide.
Tony Abate is the Vice-President of Operations of AtmosAir Solutions in Fairfield CT. Tony is a certified IAQ professional and has many years of experience in IAQ testing and analysis and bi-polar ionization air purification. More information can be found at: www.atmosair.com