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You Won't Believe These Insane Ways Restaurants Are Sanitizing During COVID

Some restaurant owners are doing more to make their dining rooms safe than just disinfecting with soap and water.
sanitization uv light

Although some states have rolled back their dine-in reopening plans, many states' restaurants are confidently back up and running—albeit they're not quite back to how you're used to seeing them.

There are many visible changes that restaurants are making to keep patrons and employees safe during the COVID-19 pandemic, including reduced seating space and contactless payment, but there are also some behind-the-scenes strategies they're undertaking to protect your health and well-being.

These invisible tactics may not be seen by customers, but they're among the most essential protocols restaurants are putting in place to keep you safe. We're talking about sanitization.

While most states have outlined specific sanitization procedures restaurants must take to ensure their dining room is clean, some restaurant owners are experimenting with new technologies that could ensure an even cleaner, virus-free environment.

Most notably, Nation's Restaurant News (NRN) reports that some owners are testing ultraviolet (UV) light devices and "cold fog" to sanitize their restaurants.

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You may be familiar with the theory that UV light can eliminate coronaviruses. According to The National Academies of Sciences (NAS), "UV light has been shown to destroy other coronaviruses, so it will probably work on the novel coronavirus." "Probably" is the word to keep in mind there. The NAS goes on to note that "Most UV sanitizers have not been tested against the novel coronavirus, SARS-CoV-2."

Restaurant owners are investing in UVC light, specifically, to disinfect their restaurants between guests. UVC light "destroys the genetic material inside viruses and other microbes," according to NAS, which is why it's used to sanitize water, surfaces, and spaces. (The same technology is used in this plane-disinfecting device.)

The other technique, the "cold fog," is actually just an EPA-approved disinfectant. NRN reports that "a worker in a hazmat-style suit blows a stream of disinfectant mist, often called 'cold fog,' throughout the […] restaurant when the restaurant is closed."

Because the efficacy of these virus-killing technologies is still relatively unknown, restaurants need to trial this tech in addition to standard cleaning practices. For example, UV radiation is not included in the CDC's guidelines for "Cleaning and Disinfecting Your Facility."

To make sure your next dining experience is as safe as possible, you can not only look for restaurants who are investing in the next-gen tech that can eradicate COVID-19 but also watch out for these 7 Warning Signs It's Not Safe to Eat in a Restaurant.

Eat This, Not That! is constantly monitoring the latest food news as it relates to COVID-19 in order to keep you healthy, safe, and informed (and answer your most urgent questions). Here are the precautions you should be taking at the grocery store, the foods you should have on hand, the meal delivery services and restaurant chains offering takeout you need to know about, and ways you can help support those in need. We will continue to update these as new information develops. Click here for all of our COVID-19 coverage, and sign up for our newsletter to stay up-to-date.
Olivia Tarantino
Olivia Tarantino is a senior editor of Eat This, Not That!, specializing in nutrition, health, and food product coverage. Read more