There is no doubt that in the food preparation industry, hygiene and cleanliness are important factors. Most countries have laws and regulations with regard to hygiene, which need to be strictly followed by restaurants and hotels, failing which the result could be that the establishment is shut down or heavily fined for negligence. It is not only providing the staff with uniforms such as Chef coats and hats, but so much more goes into creating a clean and sanitary environment fit for preparing food.
Keeping the kitchen area clean and sanitary is not just the responsibility of a few staff, but everyone should be held accountable for it, from the General Manager of the establishment to the Head Chef to the dishwasher. Even the smallest breach in hygiene standards can cause a huge problem for the business, and hence strict adherence to the highest standards of cleanliness is vital.
Here are some general rules followed by kitchens all over the world, in order to ensure a clean and sanitary environment for preparing food.
Personal hygiene – One of the most important aspects of preventing contamination of food is to ensure that all staff handling any type of food adhere to strict personal hygiene rules. Since all types of microorganisms can be transferred from a person’s hands to the food they are preparing, it is imperative that staff members know the importance of always keeping their hands clean. For this, the management should provide soap or handwash in several areas of the kitchen, so that regular handwashing is promoted among the staff, such as before starting work, before performing a specific task, after ending a particular task, when switching stations, if they have touched any part of their body or any outside surface etc. After washing, hands should be dried using a clean towel, which is changed regularly. Hair can also contain microorganisms that can contaminate food, and hence highly absorbent chef hats should be provided for all staff, to prevent both sweat and hair from falling into food.
Clothing – Many contaminants can be transferred to food through the clothes a person wears, which is why when it comes to kitchen staff, standard uniforms are provided for them to change into when working, and no one is allowed to work wearing their normal outside clothes. Things such as dirt, dust, germs, fur and so much more can get attached to clothing when they are outside and then transfer into the food they are preparing. Hence kitchen staff should be provided with chef coats, pants, cook shirts, aprons, as well as chef hats in order to prevent contamination of food.
Food storage – Food should be stored in a proper manner in clearly marked containers, and it should be remembered that different types of food should be stored separately. For example, raw meat and cooked meat should never be stored together, and the same goes for raw meats and vegetables. Staff should ensure that containers have air tight lids, and that all food items stored should have the date purchased clearly marked on them. Food should be stored under specific temperatures suitable for each different item.
Defrosting – Sudden temperature changes can cause bacteria to form on food, and hence when defrosting food, it should be done in refrigerated cabinets so that the process is gradual.
Cross contamination – It is important to have clearly marked separate utensils for different types of food in order to prevent cross contamination, such as chopping boards, knives etc. One way this can be easily done in by color coding the equipment in the kitchen, so that everyone is aware of which item should be used with what types of food.
Freeze food – It is important that every commercial kitchen has blast chillers and blast freezers which are able to freeze food items rapidly ensuring that no bacteria form on them, especially soon after cooking. The ‘cook and chill’ method is used in many kitchens around the world.
Serving food – Once the food is prepared it should not be touched by hands since the food can get contaminated. Proper utensils should be used to plate the food and servers and waiters should be trained to serve food without touching it.
Cleaning – The entire kitchen and all equipment should be thoroughly cleaned and sanitized (especially oven and sinks) both before start of day and at end of day to ensure proper standards of hygiene. In addition, a weekly deep clean of the kitchen should be carried out by staff, and a deep cleaning of the kitchen by professional cleaners should be done at least once every six months.
Washing dishes – Washing dishes should be done in a proper manner, and an essential piece of equipment for any commercial kitchen is a dishwasher. Using the right detergents and cleaning fluids is vital to ensure there is no transfer of bacteria from food scraps.
As mentioned earlier, it is every staff member’s responsibility to ensure a clean and hygienic environment for food preparation if they want to see success in their business, and hence proper training should be given to all staff with regard to standards of cleanliness and hygiene, as well as cleaning methods and techniques. Simply providing staff with chef coats and chef hats and other uniforms is not enough to ensure a high standard of cleanliness, but every other aspect of it should be fulfilled as well. This is what creates an exceptional dining experience for customers.
Virginia Hawthorne, a.k.a Georgie writes books and articles, which, considering where you’re reading this, makes perfect sense. She’s best known for writing fiction and fantasy. She also writes non-fiction, on subjects ranging from business strategies to world facts and historical subjects. She enjoys pizza, as should all right thinking people. She lives in the west suburb of Sri Lanka with her mother and her outrageously annoying two siblings, and two cats.