If you operate a commercial kitchen or food service facility, you want to serve up meals that are appetizing and delicious. But there’s one dish you never want on your menu: food borne illness. It’s amazing how easy viruses, bacteria and other harmful agents can make their way into ingredients and other areas of your operation, wreaking havoc and ruining your reputation. Be sure you have a Food Safety Program in place to mitigate microbes in your kitchen and ensure your staff and customers stay happy and healthy.
Know Your Adversary: Foodborne Illness
Sometimes referred to as food poisoning or foodborne disease, there are several causes of foodborne illness. The most common disease-causing microbe contributing to it is a contagious virus called norovirus. Also common are the bacterium Salmonella, Clostridium perfringens (C. perfringens) and Campylobacter. Independently, poisonous chemicals and other harmful toxins can also contribute to foodborne poisoning if they make their way into food products.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), 1 in 6 Americans, or roughly 48 million, get sick each year through eating contaminated food or drinking contaminated beverages. Of that number, 128,000 are hospitalized and a sobering 3,000 die. Recent foodborne illness outbreaks from major chain restaurants and grocery stores have also underscored the seriousness of the problem, demonstrating that no operation is immune from potential contamination. For these reasons, it’s critical to remain diligent regarding sanitizing procedures in your overall food safety program. Good practices serve to protect your customers, your business and your brand.
Raw Food: A Hideout for Bacteria
The earlier in the food supply chain the food becomes contaminated in, the greater the potential for widespread outbreak. The CDC states that raw foods of animal origin (meat, poultry, eggs, milk and shellfish) have the highest
incidence of contamination. Foods bought in bulk that intermix the products of many animals, such as ground beef or pooled raw eggs, can be especially dangerous, since a single contaminated item can affect an entire batch. Considering that one burger may contain meat from hundreds of cows or an individual omelet may contain eggs from dozens of chickens, you can see how the multiplier effect can quickly spread the contamination.
On the Attack: Food Safety Practices That Prevent Foodborne Illness
Good cleaning and sanitizing practices and procedures are an absolute must in helping prevent foodborne illness from infiltrating your kitchen. The following practices are some of the most effective ways to keep bacteria at bay in the food service industry:
Keep hands clean – Obvious, right? You can go a long way in helping to prevent the spread of foodborne illness by requiring employees to practice proper hand hygiene, especially hand washing. Since most harmful bacteria is spread by those who prepare and handle food, (National Food Service Management Institute), teaching and regularly reinforcing this practice only makes sense.
Clean surfaces and tools that have been in contact with food – Any tools or surfaces involved in food preparation or storage need to be regularly cleaned and sanitized. Food particles can easily get trapped in small areas like counter seams, tile cracks or blades.
Sanitize kitchen equipment – It is critical to clean and sanitize all preparation and processing equipment that comes in contact with food to prevent harmful viruses and bacteria like E.coli and Salmonella on appliances and processing equipment.
Practice good housekeeping – Insects can also carry germs, so keeping them out of your drains, traps and other moist kitchen areas should be a priority.
Store food safely – Even food that has already been cooked can pose a contamination risk, especially if it has been left out too long. Be sure to store food at the correct temperature and for the recommended length of time. The federal Food and Drug Administration recommends a refrigeration air temperature of 38° Fahrenheit or below, and a freezer temperature of 0° Fahrenheit or below. Cross contamination in storage areas can also be a problem, and food service workers should be diligent about proper sealing of food items to prevent leaking and spillage. Whether cooked or uncooked, date code your food and supplies.
Winning the War on Food Safety
Having good cleaning and sanitizing practices in place at your food service operation is critical for the health and safety of your staff, customers, and business. Continually reinforcing the above food safety procedures in your kitchen will help to control harmful pathogens before they can get a foothold and harm the good opinion others hold of your dining establishment. By proactively fighting the bacteria battle each day, you are well positioned to win this all-important war.
– National Food Service Management Institute
SCRUB AND POLISH AT THE SAME TIME WITH A 3M PRODUCT
Keeping a kitchen clean is challenging and time consuming, yet also a very important part of running a successful kitchen. With a long list of responsibilities, it’s important that kitchen managers find solutions to help increase productivity within their cleaning efforts. These solutions can help to save time and ensure a spot-free kitchen runs smoothly.
First, kitchen managers must identify the pain points within their kitchen to determine where efficiencies need to be made.
• One of the challenges kitchen managers face daily is cleaning baked-on food. Pots and pans, especially, take more effort to scrub burnt-on food completely clean as they are often bulky and heavy.
• Another challenge is cleaning delicate metal surfaces. Stainless-steel appliances and cooking utensils are common in most modern kitchens as they are easily wiped clean, and are durable and resist certain bacteria. However, if not properly cleaned, stainless-steel appliances can begin to corrode – like most metal surfaces.
Choosing the Right Tools
• Once the pain points are determined, kitchen managers can then focus on what tools are needed to optimize their cleaning efforts.
• For stainless-steel appliances, which are sensitive to scratching, kitchen managers should use a low-scratch sponge to ensure that the surfaces are properly cleaned but remain shiny.
• For tough, baked-on foods, kitchen managers should use a scour pad with a rough, scrubbing side that’s durable and won’t wear or break apart over time.
• Additionally, it’s important to use a scour pad that is engineered to prevent food particles from getting stuck in the pad itself – helping to increase the life of the pad.
Once the needed solutions are determined, kitchen managers can further streamline the cleaning process by using a tool that tackles two cleaning needs with one tool. For example, 3M’s double-sided cleaning pads – Scotch-Brite™ Low Scratch Scour Pad 2000HEX and 3000HEX – increases efficiencies with both the ability to scrub and polish in the same pad.
By knowing the pain points and using the right tools, such as a dual-action scour pad, kitchen managers are able to run a smoother kitchen and free up time to tend to other tasks of the demanding job.
By Joseph Ciampi, U.S. Sales Manager 3M Commercial Solutions Division