Why don’t many coffee shops allow customers to bring their own cup, unlike Starbucks?

More than 125 health experts ensure their own glasses are protected with good hygiene (Reuters/Anushree Fadnavis)

Starbucks has started allowing customers to use their own reusable cups for car and mobile orders, in a move aimed at helping the retail giant. coffee Reduce waste from single-use cups.

The company said the change makes it the first national coffee retailer to accept reusable cups for all types of orders. customers of starbucks Those ordering from the chain’s cafes can now get the drink in their own glass.

But at a time when reusable water bottles are so fashionable that people stand in line for hours for some brands, and when water bottle filling stations are proliferating, some people might wonder: Why aren’t there more cafes that offer alternatives to disposable cups?

One reason for this is companies’ concerns about hygiene, a common problem with reusable food and beverage containers, which has been exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic. corona virus, At the beginning of the pandemic, many establishments, including starbuckstemporarily stopped accepting reusable items, prompting more than 125 health experts to sign a letter supporting the use of personal containers.

Citing research, the letter says reusable cups may be safe as long as basic hygiene practices are followed. But while many pandemic restrictions have been lifted, there’s no guarantee you’ll be able to take your reusable cup to any coffee shop and get it refilled.

“Food safety has been cited as a reason for this, but from a risk point of view it is not a justified reason,” he said. benjamin chapmanHead of the Department of Agriculture and Human Sciences of North Carolina State University, “The risk is very, very low,” he said.

Cafeterias must balance ecological instincts with clean-hygiene concerns and various legal provisions at the local and state level (illustrative image infobay)

He said businesses that sell food and beverages, including cafes, have long debated how to ensure reusable items. hawker,

“When it’s a reusable cup, it’s not under a company’s control and they don’t know what someone has already put in the cup,” he said.

Some locations may not package reusable products due to local or state health department regulations. The Federal Food Code does not include many specific parameters on reusable items, he said, meaning standards can vary by location.

Even if local laws allow it and customers bring cups that are labeled as clean, some businesses may still worry that they will be held liable if a reusable container makes someone sick .

“The biggest concern when it comes to glass is how comfortable do industry members feel cleaning and disinfecting something over which they have no control,” he says.

With packaged disposable cups, retailers get a greater guarantee of hygiene. And unlike single-use cups, personal cups can come in all shapes and sizes. Some may have ridges or other features that make them difficult to clean thoroughly.

As a leader in environmental responsibility, Starbucks invites customers to contribute to reducing waste by using their own cups in their purchases (pictorial image Infobae)

After temporarily suspending the use of individual cups in cafes during the pandemic, starbucks It again allowed people to bring their own containers in 2021. But it took several measures to address potential sanitation issues.

For example, a coffee chain only accepts individual cups that its employees deem clean. Employees also place orders through a contactless process, which involves placing a partially reusable cup inside a ceramic mug.

The best practice for any consumer who wants to use reusable cups is to wash their containers at home first, Chapman said.

Although some coffee retailers may still be concerned about people bringing in contaminated containers that could make them sick, he said the potential hygiene risks around reusable cups are generally low.

Coffee is not a great source of nutrients for pathogens. Drinks containing dairy or non-dairy milk may spoil, but it is unlikely that not cleaning the cup will make it dirty or smelly. “We are not aware of any foodborne illness spread through reusable cups,” he said.

Washington Post

Alison Chiu is a climate solutions reporter for The Washington Post. He previously covered health issues and worked overnights on the Post’s morning mix team.

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