Friday, 8 March 2013

Spring Cleaning - Our Guide to a Clean Food Area

If you were eating out in a restaurant you would expect the level of cleanliness to be high. I am sure each of us at some point has been served a drink from a glass with a lipstick mark still on it, or a table set with slightly crusty cutlery or even a good greasy fingerprint on the side of your steaming plate of food. Although a reduced level in the standard of cleanliness may be acceptable in your own home, it is certainly not acceptable when serving or preparing food for public consumption.

The process of cleaning something is to make sure it is free from dirt and contamination. It involves a lot of energy and should be seen as much part of your job role as the food preparation itself. Activities include wiping, rubbing, scouring, scrubbing, brushing and sweeping and tasks should be carried out effectively and regularly – certain tasks work on a ‘clean as you go’ basis, some will be repeated daily, others less frequently. Cleaning is essential if you are to keep food and the workplace safe.

Cleaning helps to:
• Protect food from contamination
• Reduce opportunities for bacterial multiplication, by removing food particles
• Protect food from physical and chemical contamination
• Avoid attracting pests
• Prevent accidents such as slipping on a wet or greasy floor
• Create a good impression for customers
• Carry out legal obligations to keep food safe.

In the UK, local authorities produce a Food Law Enforcement Plan which identifies measures they will take within their area each year in regards to implementing food safety within food businesses. In order to stay off any ‘unsatisfactory’ audit lists and prevent any embarrassing cases of contamination being discovered in your food business; it is vital to have in place a cleaning schedule and follow it.

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.

Your employer is responsible for working out the cleaning schedule. This sets out when and how different items and areas should be cleaned and who should do the cleaning. They should allow plenty of time at the start and end of the shift so that ALL cleaning duties can be completed at the required level. Clear guidelines need to be provided and followed for each task specifying how the item is to be cleaned, with what chemicals and how often it is to be cleaned. Particular items of equipment may need specialist cleaning so training must be provided and then levels maintained; this may be achieved by a staff rota or checklist or delegated to a particular member of staff.

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 manufacturers 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

Bacteria can be present on food as it comes into your business, can remain whilst in storage and be spread by a poorly set out workspace, poorly cleaned workspace and poorly trained staff unaware of guidelines they should be following. So keep everyone up to date, keep equipment maintained and remember to wash your hands!!