Anthony Bourdain, famous New York Chef and food writer once said “I won’t eat in a restaurant with filthy bathrooms. This isn’t a hard call. They let you see the bathrooms. If the restaurant can’t be bothered to replace the puck in the urinal or keep the toilets and floors clean, then just imagine what their refrigeration and work spaces look like.”
Bourdain is not alone in his thinking: Initial research also found that unpleasant washroom smells leave nearly 80% of people with a negative perception of a business, and nearly a quarter feel compelled to tell friends or family about their unpleasant experience. Initial also discovered that an unpleasant smelling washroom could impact consumer behaviour, with 60% choosing to leave immediately or not return at all.
Of course – as the experts in hygiene – we couldn’t agree more. Not only are filthy bathrooms unhygienic and unappealing, but as Bourdain says, they say a lot about the attitude of a restaurateur towards hygiene. But other than their bathrooms, what hygiene issues do restaurants usually face, and how does Initial tackle kitchen hygiene?
In an article he wrote for the New York Times, entitled Don’t Eat before Reading Bourdain said of restaurants that “most good (restaurant) kitchens are far less septic than your kitchen at home.” Indeed, the kitchen is probably the highest risk area in a restaurant when it comes to hygiene, primarily because of the risk of cross-contamination, be it from surfaces, hands, food or pests.
A report in 2014 published by researchers from the Center for Science in the Public Interest analysed 10 years of data on more than 10,000 foodborne-illness outbreaks collected by the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Their findings show restaurants are the most frequent location for foodborne outbreaks and are responsible for twice as many outbreaks as private homes.
There are a number of reasons for this, including the fact that in a restaurant, food preparation may start early morning, and service can extend late into the night. Food may be held at warm temperatures but not warm enough, or food that’s meant to be cold is left out. And cross-contamination in a kitchen can happen easily when the pace picks up.
Comprehensive cleaning – of workstations, equipment and hands, to mention but a few – is therefore a critical step in maintaining impeccable hygiene in a commercial kitchen. However, daily cleaning – while essential – is generally not sufficient to mitigate the hygiene risks inherent in food preparation areas, especially those areas that see the heaviest use such as ovens, deep fat fryers, grills and griddles. Burnt-on grease and solidified fats on kitchen equipment are extremely difficult to dislodge and the daily cleaning team may not have the time, expertise or preparations to do so. Dirty equipment can also provide a ready food source for pests such as cockroaches and flies.
The South African Bureau of Standards (SABS) document SANS 10049 sets out the necessary good practices for cleaning and disinfection of food premises. Periodic deep cleaning, servicing and sanitation of commercial kitchen equipment is required to prevent cross contamination.
Removing carbon and fats from all surfaces and equipment not only results in more hygienic kitchens and fewer pests, but also reduces the high fire risk associated with solidified fats and burnt-on grease. Burned on carbon and fat deposits also cause expensive kitchen equipment to work harder, thus shortening the lifespan of the equipment. Commercial kitchens therefore have to spend more on electricity usage and equipment replacement if equipment is not regularly deep cleaned.
In response to a growing demand for this sort of kitchen cleaning and sanitation, Initial offers CaterClean: a specialised deep cleaning service for commercial kitchens. The CaterClean kitchen hygiene service includes expert dismantling of kitchen equipment, deep cleaning, sanitising, reassembling and then testing. This is done using SABS approved Food Safety solutions and a soak bath, following stringent Health and Safety standards. This process is in line with HACCP food safety compliance and a certificate of Compliance is issued after each service.
Attention is also paid to areas such as the floor, scullery room, pot washing areas, sinks, preparation tables, racks and waste disposal area. Trained, experienced and professional Initial technicians will be able to reach areas the daily cleaning team may not be able to clean effectively. By ensuring the highest kitchen hygiene standards, CaterClean is also a vital component in the fight against unwelcome pest infestations.
Initial recommends that kitchens in heavy use (12 to 16 hours per day) receive a quarterly CaterClean service. Kitchens in moderate use should be serviced at least every six months, while kitchens used between two and six hours a day will benefit from an annual specialised service.
In part 2 of this blog post, we’ll take a look at the dreaded grease trap and how commercial kitchens should be handling their wastewater so as to avoid the hygiene risks associated with blocked drains and overflowing grease traps, as well as legislative non-compliance.