Hi there! Welcome back. This week’s blog takes a second look into kitchen environments, giving you hints and tips on hygiene practices in a workplace kitchen.
From the harvest of foods through to the consumption, there are so many opportunities for food to become contaminated with various bacteria. Anything from poor personal hygiene of food handlers to unhygienic working conditions can lead to the contamination, all of which can be avoided! A lapse in hygiene standards in the catering world can lead to serious consequences, not only to your customers but also the future success of your business.
Be clean in the kitchen
As food is handled and prepared in the kitchen it is inevitable that surfaces and equipment will become dirty from a variety of sources.
It’s easy to forget that external dirt can be brought in on staff shoes or clothing, food residues can be left on equipment and grease can accumulate on walls and ceilings.
If left, these would prove to be a serious risk, not just to food but also to the health and safety of staff and customers.
Although a high standard of cleanliness is a legal requirement, effective cleaning regimes should be viewed in terms of the benefits that meticulous cleaning will bring to your business.
Here is a helpful chart that gives you a broad overview of the benefits of best practice.
“Where shall I clean?”
There are numerous key areas that each have their own specific cleaning regimes depending on their purpose.
Food contact surfaces
If hygiene standards aren’t maintained, these areas become prone to cross contamination.
At this stage in the cleaning process it’s important that cleaning professionals understand the difference between disinfectants and sanitisers.
In the world of catering, a “sanitiser” is a product that both cleans and disinfects at the same time. A disinfectant will reduce bacteria to a level that is no longer harmful. It’s common for a sanitiser to be the go-to product as it speeds up the cleaning process and reduces the number of products being used.
Bacteria thrive and multiply on environments that aren’t cleaned regularly and have a build up of grease, dirt and food residues.
When cleaning floors and walls, particular attention should be paid to corners and areas around the edges of equipment.
Manual and automatic dish wash areas
When manually washing up the following should be implemented to ensure a high level of hygiene:
- Use water at 50°c to make a solution with washing up liquid
- Scrape off loose food/waste into the correct bin
- Place equipment to be cleaned in the sink to soak and then scrub with a clean brush, cloth or scouring pad
- Change water regularly
- If available, use a second sink to rinse clean items
- Allow to air dry on a clean sanitised surface or use disposable paper towels
Automatic dishwashers generally fall into one of three main categories depending on the volume of washing up.
In areas with a low volume of washing up such as small cafes, bars and guest houses, a front loading machine would be sufficient.
When volume is a little higher, a single tank pass through machine should be considered.
For extremely large and busy catering operations such as large hotels, continuous conveyor or ‘flight’ machines should be used. These are multi-tank machines where dishes and equipment travel continuously through the machine, emerging clean and dry.
All automatic dishwashers should be cleaned regularly and thoroughly, using the correct products according to manufacturers instructions.
It may come as a shock but one of the greatest potential sources of food contamination in a kitchen comes from the kitchen staff or anyone who visits the kitchen including management and even delivery drivers.
Even the healthiest of people carry a number of pathogens on their skin, noses, throats and mouths that can be easily transferred to food through lack of thought or understanding of good personal hygiene.
There are a number of important aspects of personal hygiene that if not properly managed pose a considerable risk to food contamination:
- Hair – Ensure it is covered with suitable nets or hats
- Jewellery – Should be removed when working with food
- Smoking – Hands should be washed thoroughly with sanitiser after smoking
- Personal clothing – Staff should be provided with clean uniforms and protective clothing to change into when they arrive at work
It is one thing to ensure employees are practicing good personal hygiene but you can also influence habits by providing an environment that encourages best practice.
- Training – Ensure staff are adequately trained in the essentials of food hygiene
- Clean Premises – Providing a clean and tidy environment will encourage staff to adopt clean and tidy practices
- Facilities – Make sure facilities needed for good hygiene are available and convenient e.g. hand washbasins near key risk points
- Uniforms – Clothing should be clean and light in colour to show up any dirty marks
With the above factors in place there shouldn’t be any excuses for poor hygiene practice in the workplace.
That’s all for now folks but stay tuned to read my blog on developing cleaning regimes as I delve even further into kitchen hygiene. If you have any questions in the meantime you can drop me a line on my social media pages.