The World Health Organization estimates that one in 10 people around the world falls victim to illnesses every year as a result of food contamination. This is approximately 600 million people, and of these, more than 400,000 die.
How many inmates in correctional facilities become ill due to food contamination, need hospitalization, or die after consuming contaminated food is unknown. Up-to-date statistics are not always available. Further, inmates may be suffering from other illnesses and infections at the time they become ill. This makes diagnosis more difficult.
To help stop the spread of illness and disease, many correctional facilities have started to use or are considering the use of ATP monitoring systems. These systems have proven to be one of the most significant advances in professional cleaning in decades, helping to keep all types of facilities healthier.
ATP and Food Contamination
Adenosine triphosphate (ATP) is found in every living cell. This includes cells in you and me, as well as germs, bacteria, some viruses, and other pathogens. To use an ATP monitor, a swab is swiped on a small surface area, sometimes just the tip of a light switch. The swab is then placed in the monitor. A few seconds later, a reading of the number of relative light units (RLUs) on the surface just tested is presented on the monitor. The higher the RLU reading, the more ATP is present.
Let’s suppose the RLU indicates that there is a large volume of ATP on a surface. Does this mean the surface is contaminated?
Not at all. Remember, we said ATP is found in all living cells. However, in the professional cleaning industry, a high RLU reading is often viewed as a “red flag.” Because we do not know what is actually on the surface, to be safe, the area must be re-cleaned or cleaned with more effective cleaning solutions, such as disinfectants or sanitizers.
This makes ATP monitors very valuable for both the professional cleaning industry as well as for correctional administrators in their battle to help stop the spread of disease. However, as helpful as these systems can be, they do have limitations that correctional administrators should be aware of. Among them are the following: