Diners can see the scores on the doors for any establishment, so it's time to brush up on your hygiene best practice. Kathy Bowry reports on the latest cleaning products on the market
Outbreaks of norovirus at several restaurant chains made media headlines during 2016, and an investigation of Food Standards Agency (FSA) figures has shown that one in 13 restaurants and one in seven takeaways in the UK have failed food hygiene inspections.
A survey published last May by Checkit.net, an independent business in the Elektron Technology Group, which supplies food safety software solutions, found that 75% of those surveyed said they wouldn't risk dining at an establishment that had been implicated in a food hygiene incident, even if it was recommended by someone they trusted. Furthermore, 61% would not eat at a restaurant, takeaway, coffee shop or pub that had a low FSA Food Hygiene Rating. The survey also found that diners would rather put up with poor service from rude and unhelpful staff than eat at a dirty restaurant, and that 66% of respondents rated unclean or dirty premises as the first or second reasons for not returning.
It is now so easy for potential customers to keep tabs on how clean a business is before they even come through the door. Hygiene scores for foodservice businesses can be found on the FSA website, where they are marked on food handling, including cooking and storage, ventilation and record-keeping.
So there are plenty of reasons to take a long, hard look at cleanliness strategies to avoid low scores on the doors and, in the worst case scenario, a drop-off in customer visits or closure. The safe handling of foodstuffs is imperative for any business's survival.
Although your surfaces may look clean to the naked eye, are they really free of bacteria? The only way to be sure is to have a stringent system in which every staff member knows exactly what they should be doing in terms of cleaning and hygiene practice: from handwashing to wrapping food to mopping floors. And they need to know how to clean effectively and safely, and which chemicals to use.
Zenith's SafeDose range of cleaning chemicals is available in high-concentrate, two-litre formulations which, says the company, delivers substantial environmental benefits, including recyclable plastic and cardboard packaging. Ringo Francis, chief executive of Zenith Hygiene, says customers have worked closely with Zenith to develop the new Safe- Dose range and initial feedback has already been very positive. "We know that employee safety, control of cost and ensuring consistent product quality are areas of importance to customers. The technology used in the range gives customers peace of mind and addresses each of these areas," he says.
Tony Clough, technical director at Zenith Hygiene, adds: "SafeDose stops free-pouring and the potential for large-scale spillages, and customers are provided with safe, secure and controlled dosing of concentrate chemicals."
Clough says that the EU has revised its legislation with regards to Maximum Residual Levels (MRLs) of sanitiser products used in food contact areas which contain Quaternary Ammonium Compounds (QACs). The legislation now sets the limit of sanitiser MRLs that can be left on a food contact surface to 0.1mg/kg. This is such a low level that the only practical method of meeting this requirement is to use a sanitiser free of QACs. Zenith's Ultra-Cleaner sanitiser is both a ‘food contact' and ‘non-food contact' cleaner sanitiser, tested against European norms for Pseudomonas aeruginosa, Escherichia coli, Staphylococcus aureus, Enterococcus hirae, Influenza A, BVDV (a surrogate of Hepatitis C), HBV, HCV and HIV.
Clough explains: "Compliance with this legislation is pivotal. We have consulted a number of industry bodies on the best practical method, and the overall consensus has been to use a sanitiser free of QACs in food contact areas. Our aim is to always provide our customers with hygiene solutions which drive efficiencies and never impact quality and our new Ultra-Cleaner Sanitiser does just this. With outstanding micro-biocidal performance and a 30-second contact time, customers can now use one product to clean and sanitise all surfaces, including food contact areas."
Tony Holmes, Bestway's sales director for foodservice and retail, says: "The launch of the Essentially Cleaning range, alongside our successful Essentially Catering brand, gives customers a clear focus for their cleaning requirements, with the right solution for every area of their business."
Warewashers can be a conduit for spreading germs if they are not maintained and cleaned properly, warns Derek Maher from Crystal- tech, which installs and services warewashers. "Glasswashers and dishwashers can be the main source of cross-contamination within the catering environment, if the right combination of chemicals and temperature is not achieved. Impure water can cause cloudiness and polishing of glasses increases germ transfer. Using a chlorine-based wash chemical is a more effective cleaning agent as it acts as a disinfectant and enables machines to clean effectively at lower temperatures."
He says glasses and tableware should be visually free of residues after the cleaning process. "However, visual assessment is only one of the tools to judge if a surface is clean. Traditional testing for microorganisms or bacteria provides more information, but this is related to the effectiveness of disinfection rather than cleaning, and the results for tests can take weeks to be analysed in a laboratory.
"Crystaltech engineers use a new rapid hygiene testing system that delivers on-site results within minutes. The swab test can detect if a warewashing machine is cleaning to the expected standard and is therefore safe to use. The bioluminescence test for adenosine tri-phosphate (ATP) has been developed to measure the effectiveness of cleaning as it measures ATP from both microorganisms and from product and surface residues and is therefore a reliable hygiene test."
Catch of the day
Last but not least, unwanted visitors are always looking for ways to sneak in, so be prepared to repel them. One of the latest products has been developed in response to the ever-increasing problem of mice not entering traps, especially in London. 1ENV has carried out several trials with adapted boxes, resulting in a new trapping and monitoring solution. These new boxes are now being distributed throughout the UK. "Catch and performance results have been phenomenal," says 1ENV operations director James Mendoza. "The product is now a vital tool in the pest controller's armoury. 1ENV has also developed a lock-in system mattress protector to deal with the perennial problem of bedbugs." Mendoza adds: "February and March is the key time for people to order their fly defence machines in time for the warmer months. Flies can carry some of the worst diseases and in hospitality it is crucial for this issue to be taken seriously. At 1ENV we provide people with the best machines on the market."
On the cards
If you think you have cleaned every single nook and cranny, from kitchen to washroom and back, think again. Have you sorted the card reader? Bank cards are apparently a cesspool of filth, according to researchers from the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine and the Queen Mary University of London, in a study designed to raise awareness for last October's Hand Washing Day.
l, set a thief to catch a thief, and here it is, in the form of the Terminal Ioniser microbial cleaning card. According to Formology Products, it is the only cleaning card that removes dust, oils and other contaminates from within the card reader. Antimicrobial silver ions control the growth of harmful organisms and provide ongoing protection against card-to-card cross-contamination of bacteria within your card reader.
Chemicals supplier Ecolab has some tips to help prevent the spread of infectious diseases in a hospitality setting.
Ensure your staff:
- are aware of your hygiene practice: educate them and train, train, train
- use good hand-hygiene practices
- use a coughing and sneezing etiquette
- stay home when sick and avoid others who are sick
- get the annual flu vaccine
At your establishment, you should:
- establish a clear cleaning/disinfection schedule
- ensure hand-contact surfaces are cleaned and disinfected
- thoroughly wash tableware
- refresh wall signage, both front and back of house
- have an outbreak action plan and adequate supplies, including PPE, cleaners, disinfectants, hand soap and paper towels
- implement a pest prevention programme
Ecolab Public Health webinars are free to watch at http://en-uk.ecolab.com/pages/inst-eu-webinar-series/
Cleaning the cleaners
Used mops and cleaning cloths must be thoroughly washed and disinfected before they can be re-used to prevent dirt from spreading. For larger establishments, Miele Professional's MopStar 60 machine has been specifically developed to do just that.
e Mopstar has a patented pre-spin for shedding excess water at the start of the programme to remove more dirt and give better results. Cleaning cloths can then be reprocessed and prepared for reuse, saving time as well as increasing performance. Mopstar is also easy to use and can display text and instructions in a variety of languages.
0370 350 2424
020 8453 1234
Terminal Ioniser (Formology Products Ltd UK)
0845 365 6636