Delegate health should trump sustainability

An upcoming trip to South Africa required a short visit to the travel clinic. The nurse was quick to mention that although the US Government does not require shots for South Africa visit, the CDC has travel recommendations for this part of the world and they recommend updated vaccinations.  Working with some of the top experts at CDC has given me great confidence in their recommendations so off I went.

While the nurse spoke at length about water and staying away from the designated “malaria zones,” she also mentioned something that every meeting planner should remember too.

Bulk containers of juice or fluid are the most common vehicle for how germs and virus are spread on a buffet table. Now-a-days in this age of green and sustainable methods, many planners require that drinks be served in bulk.  In addition to morning juices, iced teas and lemonade are often served from large pitchers placed on the buffet tables or on individual rounds. When the fluid is replenished in these containers, fluid should never be simply poured into the existing containers.  Fresh containers should always be used to avoid any cross-contamination of the fresh liquid. 

Part of the attraction to individual drinks and paper cups is hygienic, but this can also give your meeting a large waste footprint.  We all want to ensure adherence to sustainability initiatives by placing re-useable items on the buffet, but it’s still important that think about the health of our delegates.  Never let your servers simply replenish the fluid in these containers (even if your delegates have to wait for a fresh container).  Always be sure to request a clean container for more beverage service. Often the complaint “must have been something I ate” could be “must have been something I drank off that wonderful, ecologically-correct buffet table!”

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