Just because it looks clean - doesn't mean that it is.
Don’t end up on the Name & Shame file
Many food business employees don’t seem to take the same care in their workplace as they do at home. This is especially seen in their attention, or often inattention, to cleaning activities.
In a search of the “Name & Shame File” on the NSW Food Authority’s web site, for instance, the penalty notices added over the last 30 days in NSW number 107. Of these, the largest number, 30 notices, are concerning cleanliness of premises and equipment. There were also a further 17 issued concerning the harbourage of pests – it is a possibility that the pests are attracted due to the lack of cleanliness in the premises, so this writer considers that these two numbers may be added together totalling 47 or nearly half. These are actual penalty notices issued & not the total number of warnings given prior to handing out a penalty notice!
Cleaning is a vital procedure
Cleaning needs to be considered a vital procedure in a food business and needs to be completed correctly. There need to be strict procedures in place which consider all the areas used by the business – including food preparation areas and surfaces, equipment, implements and storage areas. As well as having these wonderfully written procedures &/or work instructions in place – staff need to be trained in their completion. There must be a record of which staff have been trained in cleaning procedures and in which area. There may be some staff who are trained in cleaning the food storage areas, some in cleaning of various machines and some in cleaning a shop area. Having trained staff is great, but there should also be back-up staff trained. If someone is off work or injured and can’t complete the cleaning they need to, there needs to be an alternate staff member available to complete this vital role.
Don’t forget to record that it’s done as proof
The other vital part of having cleaning in place is ensuring that a record of the results of cleaning is also completed – providing that “due diligence” by showing that someone is checking it is done and appropriate.
All too often the business manager will not consider the cleaning to be a vital role and will allocate a mop and bucket to a junior and point in the direction of the work to be done. The manager will consider the production of the food item to be the main task of the business, but clean-up is just as vital. If cleaning and sanitising is not completed as and when required, food will be produced which may look OK but may cause food poisoning or contain foreign matter, this will harm a consumer and will damage a business.
If you’re not sure – ask!
If you’re not sure how or when to clean or what with, ask your inspector or a consultant or get a cleaning and sanitation chemical company to advise. Never try to clean with something that is dirty (eg a dirty tea towel, dirty water or mop). Only clean with clean items and sanitise to make sure that the bacteria on a surface are reduced to a safe level prior to its next use.
Just because it looks clean – doesn’t mean that it is – make sure vital cleaning work is completed as, when and how it needs to be done to protect the business, the owners and staff and that most important customer.