Beyond proudly displaying your (hopefully) 5-star food hygiene rating on the door, operators should feel compelled to go the extra mile for both the safety of their customers, as well as their staff. Proper cleanliness prevents the spread and development of bacteria, viruses and parasites in your establishments. It will help to make sure that situations of risk are avoided when accidents, such as spillages in your commercial kitchen, happen.
Getting hygiene right requires both serious dedication and control. There are 4 methods that will help you keep hygiene at the best level you possibly can and to keep it a top priority in your operation.
1. Train staff properly
Due diligence is limited to ensuring that the basic requirements for cleanliness and hygiene are attained. Once an EHO has visited and awarded your venue with a hygiene rating, they are unlikely to be back any time soon. However, staff who truly understand the importance of hygiene will no doubt be more inclined to maintain acceptable standards of cleanliness.
Staff need to know the difference between ‘visually’ clean and ‘hygienically’ clean. They also need to be shown how to achieve a satisfactory level of hygienic cleaning. This is only possible by providing appropriate training. It shouldn’t be limited to those handling food either. Educating all your staff can help ensure that food safety risks are minimised. It helps you gain a tighter grip on achieving the acceptable standards required within your operation. It also keeps your employees responsible and accountable for their actions as they’ll have no one to blame but themselves if standards fall below the acceptable.
For this reason it is vital to regularly schedule in refresher training so that staff do not forget or become apathetic to the importance of proper cleanliness levels. This can help instil an ‘autopilot’ performance from them and an awareness of the company’s general expectations on the levels of cleanliness. It also means staff are always up-to-date in terms of developments within the food hygiene and health discipline as new research and best practices become available.
2. Stick to proven cleaning procedures
The approved cleaning process must be exercised as is required at all times. Making sure that the correct chemicals are used for every job in order to achieve the correct level of cleaning is of vital importance. This includes the type of sanitiser used for food and hand contact surfaces for example.
Similarly procedures for dishwashing, stock organisation and kitchen utensil and appliance usage and storage are all tightly linked with cleaning procedures. Making sure that all cleaning procedures are specified clearly is key to maintaining proper hygiene in your kitchen. For example, the re-use of tea towels and cleaning cloths is extremely unhygienic, for this reason the use of kitchen linen needs careful attention and explicit instructions. Cross contamination too can only be avoided if staff ensure that the necessary techniques are used to clean equipment effectively.
It is important to regularly carry out inspections that check staff are using the correct chemical for the job they are doing, that they know the contact time required for the sanitiser they are using and that they are completing the specified cleaning procedures at all times. The responsibility of ensuring that all cleaning equipment and machinery is available and working at all times is therefore of as much importance as the procedures themselves. Working with an independent third party auditing firm can help achieve compliance in all these areas.
3. Introduce an effective cleaning schedule system
The cleaning schedule should be faithfully followed and should always state the required level and method of cleaning. Does ‘Clean Fridge’ mean ‘wipe the front of the door’, or does it mean ‘take all the items out and thoroughly disinfect’? The schedule must also state the chemical to use and, finally, the task should be allocated to a specific member of staff. All required cleaning actions must be accounted for and therefore the correct logging and documentation of all things hygiene and cleaning related is of equal importance.
The cleaning schedule should form part of the wider HACCP system and health & safety system any establishment has in place. Due to the legal requirement for proper documentation and log keeping of a cleaning schedule, it can be quite a daunting task to get it right. Getting assistance from external compliance auditors and experts can help you make sure your establishment is ticking all the boxes.
4. Don’t forget about customer experience
Despite keeping hygiene at the legally required levels, venues can still be vulnerable to revenue losses related to hygiene. Your customers, you see, can sometimes judge even more harshly than the EHO, scrutinising every small thing they spot as they dine with you.
Time and time again surveys show that customers judge a food business on the standard of cleanliness of the drinking glasses and the toilets. So ensuring that these are kept to a high standard will gain you invaluable customer confidence. In addition, regularly cleaning your menus and buffing your glasses and cutlery before use are extra lengths you could go to in order to create an instant ‘feel’ of cleanliness. These, what some may consider, excessive measures, are of vital importance and should be appropriately worked into the rest of your cleaning schedule.
Proper cleaning is a vital part of every food business and a legal requirement. Giving cleanliness the appropriate amount of attention can help towards achieving a top food hygiene rating from the EHO and is also paramount for achieving true customer confidence in your brand. If your business needs help with setting up a proper food safety system, the training of your staff and the monitoring of processes, speak to our Advisors today!