How To Clean Safely To Protect Your Food Business

Creating and sticking to an efficient cleaning schedule is important for any food business, not just because it makes the process of maintaining food hygiene standards easier, but because it also acts as a written record for the dreaded Environmental Health Officer (EHO) inspections. However, allocating tasks and completing them is only half the battle. It is vital that business owners make sure that every task is carried out regularly enough and most importantly, that it is done properly and safely.

Our Top 10 Safety Tips when Cleaning

  1. Before you start cleaning, make sure that food is safely stored out of the way and cannot be contaminated
  2. If you are cleaning a refrigerator, cold room or freezer, ensure that the food is kept at a safe temperature outside the danger zone
  3. Switch off and isolate electrical equipment, such as slicers, refrigerators, vending machines, processing machines with dry hands before you start to clean
  4. Ensure that you know how to use a cleaning chemical safely and always follow the manufacturer’s instructions
  5. Do not leave items to soak in disinfectant for longer than the manufacturer’s recommended contact time because bacteria may become resistant to the chemicals. Never leave them to soak overnight
  6. Wear protective clothing, such as rubber gloves and goggles, appropriate to the job
  7. Never mix chemicals together, they could explode, cause toxic fumes or burn your skin
  8. Work through the stages of cleaning in a way that does not spread dust or dirt, avoid being distracted in a way that puts you, other people or food at risk
  9. Clean and disinfect mops and cloths soon after use and leave them to dry in the air
  10. Always store chemicals, cleaning equipment away from food and only store chemicals in the original labelled containers designed for that purpose

It is important to remember that bacteria can be present on food that arrives at your business and if this is the case, these bacteria will remain present while the food is in storage. It is therefore essential that workspaces are as clean as possible to minimise the chance of such bacteria spreading. Keeping staff up to date with information and informing them of the risks and situations in which bacteria can multiply will give your business the best chance of maintaining a sufficiently hygienic and safe environment.

Cleaning should be considered as part of the job role for anyone who handles food, even in the smallest capacity. Because of this, all staff should be suitably trained for any cleaning tasks they will be expected to carry out so that they know exactly how to go about the process in a safe and reliable manner. As a business owner, if you are depending on your staff to carry out the necessary hygiene maintenance to run an effective food business, you need to be certain that each team member can be trusted to do things properly.

Cleaning should never be an afterthought in any food business and it should be given prominence within the daily routine. A slap dash wipe over surfaces does not mean that they are safe to work on and it won’t be considered as a genuine attempt to uphold Food Hygiene Legislation by any EHO.

A Guide To Spring Cleaning For Food Business Owners

Unfortunately, when it comes to dining out, negative experiences are more memorable than positive ones. Because of this, you can be sure if any diners have a bad time at your restaurant, it won’t be long before their family, friends, neighbours or even casual acquaintances know about it. One thing is for certain though; the worst reputation you can get is one of poor hygiene.

While few can honestly say that they enjoy cleaning, there is some satisfaction to be gained from a job well done. Cleaning should be considered as part of the necessary preparation involved with handling or cooking food. Just as an oven needs to be preheated before a joint of meat goes in, surfaces need to be scrubbed, scoured and wiped before food can be prepared on them. These activities do not need to become a massive chore; once initiated into a routine, staff should be able to complete these actions effectively and regularly. Some chores will require a ‘clean as you go’ approach, others may need to be done daily and some less frequently still. It is important that all staff are aware of what needs doing and when to ensure that the correct level of hygiene is maintained all day, every day.

Aside from the obvious reasons to clean in areas where food is prepared, such as to avoid contamination and make a good impression on customers, there are other things to consider too. As well as keeping bacteria at bay, cleaning also reduces opportunities for bacterial multiplication by removing food particles and a clean area is also much less likely to attract pests. Keeping on top of spillages is also vital for safety in the kitchen as accidents can occur on wet or greasy floors which make it easy to slip. Finally, food establishment owners have a legal obligation to maintain food safety standards to a certain level.

Local authorities are responsible for producing a Food Law Enforcement Plan which identifies measures they will take each year within their area to ensure food safety within food businesses. Businesses therefore need to create and follow a cleaning schedule which can help them maintain a satisfactory status and avoid embarrassing cases of contamination.

So how should food businesses structure their cleaning to make sure it is of a high enough standard?

Six Stages of Cleaning

Stage 1 – Pre-clean. Remove loose and heavy soiling, for example, scrape plates and chopping boards, or soak pans.
Stage 2 – Main clean. Wash with hot water and detergent.
Stage 3 – Rinse. Remove any traces of detergent and food particles with clean hot water.
Stage 4 – Disinfection. Use a chemical disinfectant, and leave it on for the correct contact time.
Stage 5 – Final rinse. Use clean hot water.
Stage 6 – Dry. If possible, leave items to dry naturally in the air, because the use of drying cloths can spread bacteria. If you have to use a cloth try to use disposable paper ones.

The development of a cleaning schedule is an employer’s responsibility. It should set out which tasks should be done, how certain areas should be cleaned and who is responsible for each task. Plenty of time should be allowed to ensure that all cleaning duties are carried out to a satisfactory level.

Rodent Control in Food Businesses

Rodents can be a nightmare for all food businesses. It seems like they appear out of nowhere and disappear into thin air at random. Or do they? Environmental hygienists tell us that in the western world we are never more than ten feet away from a rat, on average. This is quite startling news because this means that rat concentrations may be higher than ever before in history. With the reported upsurge in the levels of reported food poisoning, particularly with reference to salmonella, e. coli and lysteria, the presence of rodents must be controlled professionally within food preparation areas.

In the days when sewers ran open in the middle of the streets of all towns to see rats scurrying around everywhere was no great thing. Nowadays, many of us get very fearful when we see a rat or mouse. It may be common to see rats around farm houses in the countryside but in urban domestic environments if a rat is seen indoors emergency calls will be made to the exterminator.

Rats are not fun to have around the house. They leave the smell of their urine in places they hide and the smell is very hard to get rid of. My house was once targeted by a rat when it was being renovated and we had a real job getting rid of the thing. It decided to set up shop in a washing machine of all places. The smell coming from the washing machine was so bad that I decided to buy a new one and have the old one taken away by the trash collectors.

Like any animal species rodents need an environment upon which they can thrive. They need warmth, food, water and a place to live. Rodents are social animals and do not like to live solitary lives. This means that any environment they decide to live in must be able to support several individuals.

It is our common belief that rodents will come because a slice of bread was left out or because there were a few crumbs that spilled on the floor. This notion is not quite true. Rodents need more than just a solitary piece of food.

Food businesses can be ideal places for rodents to thrive because they can find environments suitable to support whole colonies around food outlets. By using the term environment I relate to the following. Your premises, the neighbouring premises, the drainage system, your roof, the garbage collection area, your store rooms, other store rooms in your immediate area such as bakeries, butchers, vegetable stores, the condition of housing around your business and many other possible factors. All of these elements go towards creating an environment in which rodents can thrive.

There is one thing you must know about rodents. Anywhere they can squeeze their head through they can get their whole body through in a matter of a couple of seconds. Rats will swim through a drain water to trap to squeeze through the grate of a drain. They have no problem doing this.

Highly populated areas are good environments in which to open all sorts of food businesses but they are also perfect environments for rodents. As humans we have developed the ability to control environments and the critical point about pest control in food businesses is the control of the environment around your business.

This is no short order. As I have already suggested there are many factors which contribute to the environment in which your business is situated, from the perspective of a rat or mouse. Firstly there is the question of resident rodent infestation. Is your business situated upon an existing rodent problem? It is a lot harder to get rid of rodents that have inhabited your surroundings for decades than it is to prevent the infestation of rats and mice. This is due to the fact they have the advantage of knowing the terrain like the back of their little fury hands whereas you may be new to the lay of the land.

Infrastructure includes the following areas, drains and sewers, outside walls and piping, rendering, wall cavities, areas under roofs, ovens (especially ovens with insulation), cellars, dry store rooms, trash can areas, box collection areas, vegetation around your areas including trees, neighboring businesses of all types, boxes with stored equipment especially if it is not often used, linen areas, service cupboards and toilet areas.

The places that rodents can inhabit are countless. The key to controlling the presence of rodents in your business is as I have already said to control THEIR potential environment. You must think from the rodents perspective. You must control everything that goes on both in and around your business. Another good indicator to the presence of rats is the presence of cats. Cat are another pest that will inhabit environments which can support them. More often than not they share these environments quite happily with rats. Alley cats are not good ratters because they don’t need them for food. Why should they fight a rat if they have scraps to fed off?

Controlling the environment in which your business is situated is all about a working system and having the staff to do it. Chefs and waiters must not deal in pest control. They must never contaminate themselves by cleaning contaminated areas. All responsible businesses must hire general staff to make sure the area inside and outside the area is kept spotless at all times. Chefs waiters and sore workers must also insure that areas under their direct responsibility and hygiene level are kept hygienic and tidy at all times. Any restaurant team that finishes their shift just ten minutes before going home cannot clean the business properly. At least one hour of solid cleaning is required, twice daily at least, to keep a food preparation business environments clean and controlled from a vermin aspect.

Also, pest control contractors must make fortnightly visits to appraise the vermin presence in and around your business. Likewise drain pumps must be carried out at least once a month by an authorized contracting or municipal authority.

Only when you pay attention to every detail concerning the hygienic state in around your business can you be reasonably assured that you are protecting your customers against disease which is transmitted by rodents and other pests.