Imagine the following scenario: you’re eating out with your friends at this new restaurant you’ve been dying to go to, and everything is great. The food is delicious, the drinks are flowing, you’re enjoying the great conversation – and then you feel something in your stomach begin to churn. “It’s nothing,” you think to yourself feebly, taking another bite of the dish you ordered. It doesn’t taste as good anymore. You stop to gulp some water. “I hope it’s nothing,” you continue to think, shifting around uneasily. Your stomach really hurts. With a sudden jabbing sensation in your stomach, you jump to your feet. “Bathroom,” you mutter to your friends, trying to soothe their surprised and worried expressions. How embarrassing. How uncomfortable. You curse the day you entered the damned restaurant. How you manage to get through the evening, you don’t know – but you do know this: you in no way, shape or form enjoyed yourself. You can’t pass that restaurant anymore without feeling slightly ill.
Most people went through a similar experience at least once in their lives. Foodborne illnesses, such as food poisoning, are no laughing matter. The pain (and shame, had the incident occurred in a social situation) can be a lot to put up with. Food hygiene, also known as food safety, aims to prevent this from happening, reducing the risk of consumers becoming ill due to food-borne diseases with a variety of methods. Handling food, preparing it, and even storing it, can all cause the food to become contaminated.
We collected 7 basic food hygiene rules that every restaurant or catering should swear by:
1. Wash your hands!
Yes, you need to wash your hands. When? The opportunity to wash hands presents itself in the time frame after touching a contaminated surface or object and the time before touching another, in order to not contaminate it as well. So for the food industry, this means washing hands before and after handling food, after employees take breaks, and obviously, after going to the toilet.
2. Your customers need to wash their hands, too
Who knows what kind of pathogens your customers are bringing in with them. They might be carrying harmful germs and bacteria that will enter their bodies through their hands as they eat, and you know who is going to be blamed for their ensuing illness? You. You should encourage your customers to wash their hands. How? A possible solution includes ensuring there are enough available sinks in the customers’ line of view, coupled with a handwashing poster explaining how to wash hands properly near them.
3. Break times – away from the kitchen
Though many employees prefer to take their break time close to the kitchen, this could lead to unwanted, unhygienic behavior. Eating next to the food can result in splatters of saliva landing on ingredients, cooking tools, and so on. Smoking next to the food is also less than desirable for obvious reasons. Wanting to spend time with the other employees currently on shift is natural, but you can find other ways to create a tight-knit team without endangering food safety protocols.
4. Help your team brush up on hygiene protocols
Make sure your team knows when and how to properly wash their hands. You would be surprised at the number of workers who just don’t know how to ensure a thorough wash cycle. Ensure your team’s knowledge on sneezing and coughing (towards the elbow), away from the food being served or prepared. Stress the importance of covering or tying back hair, wearing clean, suitable work clothes and aprons. These protocols are there in order to help you do the best job you can.
5. Stow all personal belongings in a different space than the kitchen/prep areas
Your employees’ belongings, coats, jackets, bags, and so on, could bring in unwelcome pathogens. Have your employees stow them away in a separate area than the one you are preparing and serving food in, and instruct them to wash their hands before entering the kitchen. This diminishes the chances of uninvited germs and viruses following them inside the cooking space.
6. Do not leave exposed cuts in the open
Exposed cuts could lead to contamination of the food, as well as cause an infection to the one suffering from the cut. Make sure to have waterproof plasters on hand for your team, as accidents do happen quite often in the kitchen.
7. Do NOT come to work sick!
We cannot stress this enough. If you have a contagious disease you are handing out no favors by showing up to work! The kitchen is a place where germs can spread quickly to a great number of people. Workers in the food industry need to understand the responsibility they are handed by those eating the food they prepare.
It’s true that the food industry has an enormous responsibility to make sure their clients get the best, safest product possible. These basic rules should help you take steps in the right direction.
Here at Soapy, we strive to create a safer, more hygienic world. This is why we created the ECO Hygiene Micro-Station. The system dispenses the exact amount of soap and warm water, using facial recognition to alert managers to hand hygiene trends in their facilities. Ensuring a thorough wash cycle, the ECO Hygiene Micro-Station takes hand washing to the new level. If you want to learn more about the ECO Hygiene Micro-Station, you can contact us here.