Studies show that norovirus is the primary cause of foodborne disease outbreaks reported in the US causing 5.5 million illnesses each year. Economically, norovirus cost approximately $625 per case equivalent to $3.7 billion each year with respect to food borne illnesses attributable to norovirus. Norovirus may be transferred via person to person or indirectly by contact with food contact surfaces.

Application of appropriate cleaning tools for the removal of viruses from food contact surfaces is a critical step in preventing the indirect transfer of viruses to persons at food service establishments.

One study (1) compared different types of cleaning cloths in removing viruses from food contact surfaces and transferring viruses back to these same surfaces.

It was determined that for overall effectiveness against norovirus on food contact surfaces, microfiber and cotton cloths rated higher than non-woven cloths and terry towels.

However, disposable wipes and towels, which were not tested in this study, may be the most effective in both removing norovirus from food contact surfaces and preventing the transfer of norovirus back onto these surfaces.

Are you concerned about the type of cleaning cloth your favorite restaurant uses?

Leave a comment below!

Gary Russotti, MD, MS

Idea Boxx – Director of Medical/Biochemical R&D and Regulatory Compliance


  1. Gibson, K, Crandall, P and Ricke, S. “Removal and Transfer of Viruses on Food Contact Surfaces by Cleaning Cloths.” Appl Environ Microbiol. 2012 May, 78: 3037-3044.
  2. “Norovirus – You Don’t Want It.” The Healing Frequency,