Cleanliness of Food Preparation Areas
Chefs and commercial kitchen managers regularly work in high pressure environments. Customers demand high quality meals, staff require regular management and training, superior ingredients need to be constantly sourced and cleaning regimes need to be established and maintained. All this needs to occur while keeping one eye on a budget and the other on a clock. In this situation, it is critical not to lose sight of the single most important factor that underpins it all – food safety. Food borne illnesses can be devastating so it’s essential to strictly adhere to the proven systems and practices that protect the public and enhance the reputation of restaurant owners and chefs.
Colour-Coded Cutting Boards and Utensils
One of the most common sources of compromised hygiene in commercial kitchens is the cutting board. Warn out and cracked boards provide the perfect breeding ground for bacteria and germs. This creates obvious danger when preparing food for public consumption. A simple solution many professional kitchens are adopting is utilising multiple racks of colour-coded cutting boards. Staff are trained to use them for specific foods (meats, bread, fruit and vegetables etc.) and consequently reduce the potential for contamination between foods and the flavour confusion that happens when unwanted food combinations occur. Depending on the size of the kitchen, conveniently positioned racks of colour-coded boards may be required to streamline processes.
For similar reasons, knives fall into the same category. All professional chefs are aware of the potential for harm that may occur if a knife previously used on meat is subsequently used to dice vegetables - it’s simply not worth the risk. Ensure your kitchen is well-stocked with an adequate supply of high-quality knives, scrapers and cutters that are durable enough to withstand the rigours of constant use, are easy to sharpen and made from food-grade materials.
Likewise, tongs, scales, storage containers and poultry shears should also be of superior quality. These often contain moving parts or tight connections so are more prone to break or lose effectiveness if made from poor quality materials by manufacturers which don’t regularly supply the professional kitchen market.
Professional kitchens always carry a large supply of spoons for tasting. These need to be metallic and situated conveniently around the kitchen near cooktops, ovens and other preparation areas. Dozens and dozens need to be available for single-use tastings so chefs are able to detect flavours and adjust cooking times and herbs and spices accordingly. After each spoon is used, it needs to be placed in tub which is then washed so clean spoons are constantly recycled. In large professional kitchens, often there are over 1,000 spoons in circulation for this purpose alone.
Cleaning and Sanitising
For all the above, ensure an effective, high-quality cleaning compound is used during the dishwashing procedure and soak implements with seals or moving parts to ensure potential contaminants may be loosened and easily rinsed away.
In addition, floors and surfaces must be regularly cleaned and sanitised. High-grade mops and cloths need to be employed to ensure all residue is removed and sanitary conditions prevail in the kitchen. Quality mops and cloths will be pill-resistant, easily rinsed and not break down quickly due to constant use.
Regular cleaning and sanitising schedules need to also be in place for all food processing equipment. These may include slicers, mixers, blenders, pressure cookers, sausage machines, mincers and espresso machines. Such devices provide the footholds germs require to multiply and cause food borne illnesses so deserve special attention.
Schedules need to be established to ensure cool rooms, ovens, stoves, microwaves, freezers and cupboards are regularly cleaned according to the standards of local government authorities. Any cracks in benchtops need to be repaired or the benchtop replaced as these become breeding grounds for bacteria and germs.
Human hands are perhaps the biggest source of bacteria in any kitchen. To avoid any mishaps, ensure your staff are trained in the risks and handwashing procedures which have been established to avoid any food poisoning scares. There are too many examples of restaurant closures because of silly mistakes that could have been easily avoided. Make certain your handwashing facilities are readily accessible and stocked with appropriate soaps, hand driers and sanitisers. Taps should be either automatically enabled by sensors or have levers which may be operated by elbows.
Also ensure any cuts or wounds are properly attended to with appropriate disinfectants and are securely and entirely covered with hospital grade bandages or plasters. A home brand band-aid with weak adhesive on the arm of a cook will definitely spoil the broth.
There are a variety of other elements to take into consideration when creating the right culture and surroundings for safe and efficient food preparation and cleanliness.
Vinyl and latex disposable gloves provide a simple and effective membrane that separates hands from food. This simple practice significantly enhances food safety and reduces the likelihood of food borne illnesses. They come in powdered or non-powdered and still allow for hands to feel the food they are manipulating so tenderness and freshness may be ascertained. These are essential tools in modern commercial kitchens for promoting hygiene and can be easily incorporated into existing procedures.
Hairnets and Beard Covers
Few diners can think of anything worse than extracting a hair from their meal which clearly did not come from their own head. In addition to all the chemicals people put in their hair, it is also a known playground for various mites and lice and a home for dandruff. All of these are a great source of distress for diners and may provide immense damage to a restauranteur’s reputation. To insure against this in your restaurant, make certain hair nets and beard covers are worn by your staff.
These days, social media reviews can make or break a restaurant. They are immediate, spread quickly and cannot be retrieved once they are in the public domain. So it’s essential chefs provide diners with an excellent experience to ensure only positive reviews are in circulation. Customers are far more likely to excuse poor service than they are unhygienic surroundings. To ensure your establishment’s reputation is always a source of pride, it’s is critical to incorporate a proven cleaning regime and food preparation procedures into your kitchen.
Fildes Food Safety is a wholly Australian-owned company with a reputation for excellence. We produce and supply a substantial range of professional quality kitchen equipment and consumables specially designed to perform first time, every time. This provides confidence and efficiencies for chefs, managers and staff. Our goal is to help food service businesses establish and maintain professional kitchens capable of producing high-quality meals while meeting their food safety obligations.