There are many components to an effective hygiene management program in a food-service facility. A food-service facility refers to any commercial kitchen where food is being prepared for public consumption.
This could be a restaurant, a school cafeteria, a commercial kitchen that prepares food to be sold in retail and grocery stores, or a facility that makes ready-to-eat food items that are distributed to all types of businesses and locations.
The most critical elements of a hygiene management program are cleaning and sanitation. An effective program ensures both food safety and quality. Along with the proper handling of and cooking or preparing food, it also includes such things as:
Having a master cleaning schedule in place
Cleaning and sanitising
Let’s take a closer look at each one of these elements.
1. Waste management
The preparation of food typically produces a large amount of waste. This includes food waste as well as inedible waste, such as cardboard. The proper disposal of this waste is crucial to ensuring plant cleanliness.
2. Sanitary design
Cleaning a food-service plant can be exceedingly difficult. Kitchen equipment that has been designed with cleaning in mind—referred to as sanitary design—helps make the process more manageable.
For instance, we know that the harder it is to clean equipment—or reach the interior of equipment to clean it—the greater the chance it will not be cleaned or cleaned adequately. This is why many commercial kitchen equipment manufacturers are striving to make their machines simpler to clean, with components more accessible, not only to make cleaning less difficult but for easier inspection as well.
3. Routine cleaning
In a commercial kitchen or food-service plant, cleaning is an ongoing exercise. Routine cleaning, therefore, includes programs to clean any spills, leaks, or debris on floors and equipment as soon as possible. This promotes worker’s and food safety as well as ensures an effective hygiene management program.
4. Master cleaning schedule
Nothing can be left to chance when it comes to hygiene management in a commercial kitchen. To ensure all areas are cleaned, a master cleaning schedule is imperative. This is a written document listing all the equipment in the facility: walls, floors, drains, overhead structures, lighting, loading docks, warehouse facilities, lockers, utensils, totes and baskets, and anything else in the facility that needs to be cleaned on a set schedule.
Invariably, master cleaning schedules are facility specific. What works well in one plant may not work well in another. For instance, the age of the facility can be a differentiating factor, as well as the specific food items used in the facility. Grains and flour tend to create large amounts of dust, meaning overhead areas may need more cleaning. On the other hand, facilities working with vegetables and meats may need to pay more cleaning attention to counters and floors.
5. Cleaning and Sanitising
In the past few years, new technologies have been introduced to help improve the effectiveness of cleaning commercial kitchens. Many of these advances are the results of issues and problems that exist with traditional cleaning chemicals. For example:
Food-service plants use large amounts of all-purpose cleaners, sanitisers, degreasers, and disinfectants. When cleaning an office building, cleaning supplies may represent only about 10 percent of overall cleaning costs. However, in a food-service location, those products may represent a third or more of total cleaning costs.
Traditional cleaning solutions, especially degreasers and disinfectants, can prove very harmful to the user and the environment. This problem is intensified because these chemicals are used in such large quantities in a commercial kitchen.
Many cleaning chemicals leave a residue of chemical ingredients on surfaces. This residue acts like a magnet, pulling soil and contaminants to just-cleaned surfaces. The process is referred to as “resoiling.” In a food-service facility, resoiling can damage food items in preparation and potentially have serious health repercussions.
Electrolysed Water in Food Service
One way many food-service facilities are now addressing these challenges is by using eWater technology. Utilising electrolysis, eWater Hygiene Systems produce an effective cleaning and sanitising solution using only tap water and a high-grade salt that can be produced onsite/on demand. For instance, the unit can be installed on a wall in a cleaning closet or kitchen area, ready for use whenever needed.
The technology is environmentally safe and proven useful for all-purpose cleaning, sanitizing, and disinfecting. ewater has even been tested and demonstrated to effectively kill coronavirus such as COVID-19, with eWater Disinfectant listed on the Australian Register of Therapeutic Goods (ARTG)*.
Finally, when it comes to hygiene management in a food-service facility, effective training is imperative. Training that is ongoing, documented, and includes record keeping and verification helps ensure that food safety, cleaning effectiveness, and health are protected.
*The Therapeutic Goods Administration is the Australian regulator for disinfectant products and maintains the ARTG for approved products with specific claims such as killing COVID-19.
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