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Visibly Clean, Invisibly Clean

In the food industry, dangerous bacteria can lurk on surfaces that appear clean to the naked eye. That’s why Food Safety Legislation sets rigorous standards for ensuring a healthy, safe food preparation environment in industrial kitchens.

In our series of discussions with Richard Mallett, Managing Director of the European division of HACCP International, we’re exploring the dangers that could be hiding in plain sight: after all, just because your kitchen looks clean, doesn’t mean it is clean.

Beneath the surface

If you set an average cutting board under a microscope, you’d see the hundreds – perhaps thousands – of small nicks and cuts caused by everyday use. In each of those crevices can lay food residues, a potential breeding ground for harmful bacteria. The same holds true for countertops and surfaces. Although they may appear to be clean, the potential threat to the health of the consumer from eating food that has contacted those surfaces is all too real.

That’s why surface cleaning isn’t enough. That shining countertop or cutting board could be home to the harmful Listeria or Campylobacter bacteria. A simple wipe with a cloth is not enough to get rid of these dangers. And since as few as 10 to 100 bacterial cells can cause illness, the danger is clear and ever-present.

Fighting back

It’s impractical to think that industrial kitchens will spend the time or money taking swabs to perform extensive bacterial testing on a regular basis – even if that’s the most effective way to measure for the potential presence of harmful microbes. So what’s the solution? Prevention, first and foremost.

Richard Mallett recommends that every cleaning session start with properly trained, thoroughly prepared staff. Food safety standards are well known and well publicised, and should never be taken lightly. Thorough cleaning –and complete disinfection – is the only way to prevent food-borne illnesses from taking root, and endangering the lives of your patrons.

Advice from the experts

In addition to a well-trained staff, the use of effective and approved cleaning products is also a must. Even when times are tough, there should be no cost-cutting efforts made when it comes to disinfection. Proper materials – including industry-approved wipes and disinfectants – should always be on the budget.

Clean because you care

Industrial kitchens provide the perfect breeding ground for bacteria. Moisture, warmth and food particles come together to present a true health hazard.

A truly clean kitchen is more than just shiny surfaces and smooth countertops. It’s clean to the microscopic level. Kitchen managers must be aware of – and complaint with – the standards and guidelines for a healthy kitchen. Otherwise, customers can be at risk.