4 Indicators Showing When To Replace Sneeze Guards Or Food Shields

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The NSF is a Public health and safety organization that provides complete specifications for sneeze guards which are also known as food shields. Do sneeze guards or food shields last forever? No, they don’t. How does a restaurant owner know when it’s time to replace a sneeze guard or food shield?

Certainly, it is better to recognize the signs yourself rather than have a health inspector cite your eating establishment for not being up to code.

Here are four indicators that it is most likely time to replace a sneeze guard.

  1. Cracks & Scratches

Cracks are an obvious sign that the impervious nature of the glass has been compromised. The component is no longer effective at preventing fluids from reaching the food below. However, an eating establishment should also consider replacement of a sneeze guard that is covered with scratches.

If the view of the food in a self-service buffet is affected by scratches, patrons may be tempted to dip their head below the guard to get a better look; defeating the whole purpose of a sneeze guard’s design.

  1.  Updates & Conversions

If a business operation is planning decor and fixture upgrades, don’t forget about sneeze guards or food shields. Not updating your glass barriers while everything else gets a new and improved version can ruin a restaurant’s aesthetic goal. It’s kind of like getting a completely brand new living room set, but still having to keep a loved one’s favorite old ratty recliner.

If lighting conditions change, sneeze guards may need to be replaced to accommodate a different lighting environment. Darker establishments need illuminated sneeze guards or food shields. A well lite, brighter lighted restaurant may want to eliminate illuminated sneeze guards and replacing them with designs that feature no lighting providing a bonus; reduced energy consumption.

  1. Wear & Tear

Although an old sneeze guard may be perfectly sound in its job performance, if its age is apparent it can have a grave effect on customer confidence. The result could be a drop off of patrons, harming the businesses performance.

Light-weight glass alternatives, such as acrylic, Plexiglass or Lucite, can become cloudy with age. If the wrong type of cleaner has frequently been used on glass-alternatives, sneeze guards can become scratched, cloudy and damaged which may render them unusable.

Over time, sneeze guards can become damaged due to the usual bumps and bruises received by serving utensils and containers. This minor damage can affect the integrity of a sneeze guard’s design and warrant replacement.

Pay particular attention to end panels that also suffer abuse by being knocked about as people walk by and cut a corner too close.

  1. Menu Changes

Changing the menu may result in a need to change a sneeze guard or food shield.  Different types of food have their unique requirements concerning lighting and temperature controls. Often a design can be retrofitted with new lighting and heating components. However, it may be more cost-effective to replace the old model altogether.

Replacement Specifications

If it is time to replace a sneeze guard or food shield, there are four things to consider:

  • Design: Guards can be customized with colored brackets, lighting features, heat accessories, and the application of company logos.
  • Support: The heavier weight of glass will require more support posts. Make certain an appropriate support structure is in use.
  • Attachment: When installing to a counter, function and aesthetics are equally important. The shield should be secured at the proper height without blocking the view of the food.
  • Clearance: National Sanitation Foundation (NSF) standards are used throughout the public health system to establish clearance guidelines. It is important to understand how the space between a counter’s surface and the lowest edge of a sneeze guard will affect the function of bringing food to the plate. A restaurant wants ease of function while remaining compliant.

For all your custom glass needs in a restaurant, particularly the special requirements involved in sneeze guards or food shield, please contact us or call us now at 267-592-3433.  With more than three decades of experience, we deliver superior craftsmanship and service to all projects.