Simple steps for enhancing hygiene and safety in food establishments.

January 23, 2024
Natalie Thorburn

Introduction

Fostering a clean and hygienic setting is absolutely imperative within food establishments. Not only does a sanitary setting have a huge impact upon first impressions but it more importantly has a direct effect on the safety of customers. Within this article we have shared a few simple steps to easily facilitate a sterile and sanitary environment within your establishment. Alongside this advice businesses should seek guidance from their local authorities to ensure they have all the necessary facilities to create a safe environment for customers.

Regular Cleaning 

It goes without saying that every business establishment should be cleaned and disinfected on a regular basis, this is especially important for those that are handling food. Often workplaces can get busy, and cleaning can be neglected for ‘more important’ tasks, which can lead to a build-up of harmful dirt and grime. To avoid this businesses should implement a regular cleaning schedule delegated to members of staff. This ensures that there is consistency when it comes to cleaning all surfaces and equipment.

It is important that establishments don’t neglect staff cleanliness by ensuring that all members of staff are consistently washing their hands and following the correct hygiene procedures. Hands should be washed for a minimum of 20 seconds and dried thoroughly. In addition, the establishment must ensure that the correct soap and drying towels are provided in line with UK hygiene regulations. If staff members are directly handling food, then hairnets, clean clothes and gloves should be worn at all times.

Materials

To facilitate a smooth cleaning process and ensure the area is as sanitary as possible, certain materials are recommended for use within food establishments. Hygienic wall cladding is purposely made to reduce bacteria and enable the easy cleaning of walls due to its smooth texture. This cladding is commonly made from polyvinyl chloride (PVC), a type of plastic that is highly durable, resistant to chemicals and easy to clean. PVC panels are affordable making them the popular choice in many establishments.

Hygienic wall cladding can also be made from stainless steel. This is proven to be one of the most practical materials to use within a food establishment due to its non-porous nature and strong resistance against bacteria. Stainless steel is extremely easy to wipe clean which is beneficial for areas where food preparation takes place, not only that but it is highly durable due to its anti-corrosive properties. Damaged and scratched surfaces are hugely unsafe in food establishments as bacteria can easily become trapped in the small grooves and although not visible to the naked eye, be extremely unhygienic. For commercial food preparation areas grade 304 stainless steel is the most practical choice due to its wide availability and extreme resistance towards corrosion.

Waste Disposal

Discarding waste inappropriately may lead to an accumulation of bacteria within your workplace, this bacterium poses a harmful risk especially within food establishments. To prevent the formation of harmful bacteria, waste and rubbish must be removed from the food handling and preparation area as soon as possible. Food handling areas must remain clean at all times by ensuring the regular removal of rubbish and wiping of surfaces. Waste must be placed in the appropriate disposal bin and the lid is fully closed. The bin must be cleaned regularly to remove harmful bacteria that could be harbouring in cracks and crevices.

It is important to ensure that food is not disposed of through alternative means, like down the drain. To avoid this, use a plug hole strainer to catch food and debris that may enter the sink. When debris is regularly disposed of down the drain it can collect and eventually cause blockages. This can be worsened by pouring oils and fats down the drain as these substances can harden on the inside of pipes and create a thick sticky coating. A drain blockage can lead to an accumulation of bacteria which has the potential to result in poor health particularly in a food handling area. If you suspect a pipe blockage it is important to get in touch with a plumbing expert as soon as possible to unclog the pipe and prevent possible health issues.

Temperature

Temperature control is imperative during the preparation and handling of food, when temperature is poorly managed it can compromise food safety. To prioritise customers safety food establishments must be aware of ‘The Danger Zone’, this is the range from 8°C to 60°C also known as the ideal breeding ground for bacteria growth. Hot food must be heated or reheated above 63°C to kill bacteria and provide safe consumption. This food must be consumed within 2 hours and if not placed in a fridge or discarded. Cold food should be kept between 0°C and 5°C to ensure there is no production of bacteria, this means monitoring your fridge temperature and if it goes above or below this range then it must be dealt with within 2 hours. If you are not able to sort the issue within two hours, then all food inside the fridge must be discarded.

 

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