Food that’s produced in hygienic conditions is automatically of a higher standard than meals prepared in a hygienically-compromised kitchen. It’s the duty of the restaurant manager to ensure the health and wellbeing of both customers and staff. Without a proper hygiene and cleanliness policy in place, a restaurant runs the risk of failing health and safety inspections, contravening compliance laws and falling out of favour with its patrons.

Successful restaurants have strict food hygiene rules in place. This involves everything ranging from regimented cleaning regimes to pest management procedures and proper food preparation policies. Detailed below are some of the most important food hygiene rules and why it’s crucial that they’re applied in your kitchen.

Begin by identifying the hygiene risks that kitchen staff need to be aware of.

Draw up a document that outlines all of the critically important operations of your kitchen, and what could go wrong should you not stick to the plan. Having best practice policies on cross contamination, cooking rules, cooling and hygiene ensures that all staff are aware of how to handle various tasks safely. A detailed document that employees can refer to will ensure that your restaurant is prepared for any eventuality regarding compromised hygiene.

Always store and prepare food separately

You cannot apply a blanket rule to all of the perishables in your fridge, as all of them have different ‘best before’ dates and they perish at different rates. Be vigilant of what ingredients you have in your commercial fridge and how long those foodstuffs have been there. Labelling all items conscientiously removes the guesswork from this process – and eradicates the risk of spoiled ingredients being used in dishes.

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Avoid the cross-contamination of foods by making use of colour-coded chopping boards and preparation bowls. Many kitchens use red for red meat, blue for fish and yellow for poultry. Regardless of how you choose colour-code your various preparation utensils, ensure that separate tools are used for their corresponding ingredient. Salmonella poisoning is unfortunately a common occurrence. Avoid risking the health of patrons by employing the use of dedicated utensils for specific food groups.

Have a Pest Management Checklist in your kitchen

Aside from poor general hygiene and cleanliness, nothing compromises your food hygiene standards more than unwanted pests. Have visible checklists that detail precautions and best practice for thee uninvited, dirty guests.

Here’s an example of what your checklist might contain:

  • Report sightings of pests immediately to a professional pest management company
  • Do not store pesticide products in the kitchen or food preparation areas
  • Make sure that you have adequate, safe pest control products in strategic places in and around the restaurant.
  • Wipe down counters and preparation surfaces in your kitchen regularly
  • Seal all food and drink items tightly in air tight containers
  • Clean thoroughly after every service – This includes moving countertop fridges and tables and mopping behind them.
  • Don’t neglect areas that are out of sight. Your stove canopy needs to be deep cleaned regularly. This includes the vents. Bins and bin areas need to be cleaned regularly as not to attract cockroaches and mice.

School your kitchen staff on proper hygiene practices

The hygiene standards of an eatery should be reflected by the staff members. Those with long hair need to cover it with a hairnet in order to avoid stray hairs landing in food.  Hands need to be washed frequently. Staff should have designated washing stations for hands – these stations should be equipped with disinfectant soap and paper towels.

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Crockery and cutlery must be meticulously cleaned

Don’t forget that food hygiene best practice applies to your cutlery and crockery too. In order to ensure that these are thoroughly cleaned, it’s advisable to use a commercial dishwasher. Clean cutlery and crockery is not only a must for patrons, but for the preparation of meals too. Inspect each item before it goes out onto the floor – and have regular spot-checks in order to ensure your guests are provided with utensils that are hygienic.

Employ the use of cleaning schedules and records

Restaurants that apply a meticulous approach to their general cleanliness are those that have optimal standards of food hygiene, A record-keeping system will enable you to keep on top of your daily cleaning requirements.

Include areas in your deep-cleaning regiment that are often neglected. Once a task is completed, the person responsible should sign and date the checklist in question.

Adhering to a regimented set of hygiene rules is a prerequisite for all involved in the restaurant industry.  The importance of food safety resulting from good hygiene cannot be stressed enough. Streamline the operations in your kitchen so that all staff are on the same page.  Complying with food hygiene standards will see to it that you are always in a position to produce high quality food that’s prepared in safe conditions.

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