Image of table being cleaned

Know your responsibilities keeping your premises hygienic and safe

Key Points

  • Food poisoning can be highly detrimental to your business, so proper food safety and hygiene practices are essential
  • Good hygiene starts with the basics – hand washing and protecting your premises against insects and pests
  • Keeping chilled foods at the right temperature and not overstocking fridges and freezers is also important.
  • Food preparation surfaces need to be sanitized, not just cleaned, and there are also important considerations in cleaning tabletop containers, floors and toilets

NOW MORE THAN EVER, customers are looking for reassurance that your business is taking safety and hygiene seriously. Making sure hand sanitiser and wipes are easily available and prominently displayed, and keeping records of diners for contact tracing are two visible signs of this commitment – but that’s just the starting point.

In the current climate, the last thing you want are any outbreaks of food poisoning. That means it’s never been more important to make sure you have all the essentials in food safety and hygiene covered and staff understand what they need to do. We’ve compiled the following checklist to make it easier:

* Good hygiene starts with the basics: washing hands is imperative because one of the main ways germs are spread is by hand. All your staff should be washing their hands thoroughly before and after handling raw food or touching anything which may have been exposed to germs.

* Ensure all chilled foods are kept at the correct temperature. You should be conducting preventative maintenance on your fridge and freezer to make sure their thermostats are working accurately and that your fridge’s interior temperature is below 5deg C. This prevents bacteria on food from multiplying. It’s also important not to overstock fridges and freezers, as too little room for air to circulate will cause the ambient temperature to rise.

* Don’t just clean the kitchen, but sanitize it. All equipment and surfaces which have come into contact with food and utensils must be sanitized afterwards. This means using disinfectants as opposed to just water or soap. And remember ‘surfaces’ not only includes all counter tops but also cutting boards and grills.

* Don’t overlook cleaning tabletop condiment containers and menus. Printed menus which customers handle usually need to be disinfected and cleaned regularly – in the current post-lockdown situation, establishments are advised to use only disposable paper menus and ensure tabletop condiment containers are sterilised and cleaned after each customer’s use.

* Dirty floors pose a safety risk as well as a hygiene one. Regular mopping of floors along with deep cleaning with soap, water and bleach to clean dirty tile grouting and remove debris is a must. Dirty floors can easily get slippery and pose a safety risk to customers and staff.

* Keep toilets clean to protect against cross-contamination. By keeping toilets properly cleaned you’re cutting down the risk of cross-contamination from employees to food products and utensils. Toilet bowls and seats should be scrubbed, along with the floor around the toilets. Sink surfaces should also be regularly disinfected then dried, along with sink taps and door handles. Make sure also you keep your soap, paper towels and toilet roll dispensers well stocked and ensure toilets are kept clean and tidy. A note on the wall asking staff and customers to report any mess is a good idea.

* Maintain a regular cleaning schedule and checklist.  Your schedule should differentiate between daily, weekly and monthly cleaning tasks and include two sets of activities - back of house and front of house. A checklist can help you to stay organized and ensure you’re complying with the relevant food safety guidelines. And by keeping everything clean, not only will your food taste better but your premises will be more inviting, helping to encourage repeat business.

* Protect your premises against insects and pests such as cockroaches, silverfish and other nasties. This includes conducting professionals checks, storing food in sealed containers at all times and keeping windows, walls and doors in good repair and well secured.