Every UK restaurant, cafe, coffee shop and takeaway joint is rated by the Food Standards Agency here in the UK – the data of which is shared publicly. Not only that, customers are taking to social media and forums to ‘out’ restaurants they catch in the act of poor hygiene – naming and shaming and reporting to the authorities.
But many restaurants do try hard to adhere to food safety and hygiene regulations – so why are so many restaurants failing to hit the mark and why are so many failing to realise that they’re not up to scratch?
Well it turns out that some of the biggest causes of poor food hygiene and food poisoning are being ‘forgotten’ by many restaurants in the UK.
Food storage is one of the key problems when it comes to hygiene in restaurants – as food needs to be properly chilled and stored to stop bacteria growing and multiplying. If foods such as meat, dairy, cooked dishes, salads deserts and other ‘ready-to-eat’ dishes are left out at room temperature for a prolonged period of time (more than a couple of minutes), it can cause harmful bacteria to grow which is one of the the most common cause of food poisoning. All staff, including those serving foods and not just chefs, should understand the safe storage of food to prevent problems.
Reheating foods is another big problem for restaurants, especially if the labeling of foods to be reheated isn’t clear – as there’s a risk of reheating twice. Reheated foods should be steaming hot all the way through or reach a temperature of 70°C for more than 2 minutes. Foods which have been reheated but not eaten should be discarded immediately.It’s also important to ensure that the food is properly chilled and stored before it is reheated – as if its not bacteria can grow at a rapid rate.
Although many restaurants feel they are good at keeping the food preparation area clean, often the kitchens and areas are ‘surface’ cleaned only – meaning there’s lots of hidden dirt and germs building up behind equipment, underneath storage and getting caught in hidden places. It’s really important for restaurants to not only make sure the areas are well set up in the first place to aid cleanliness but that a deep clean is part of the daily routine and all nooks and crannies are paid attention too and not overlooked or ignored – as that’s where bacteria and infestations will occur.
It’s also worth noting that many restaurants have incredibly dirty mops (or similar tools) and that the equipment used to ‘clean’ isn’t clean itself! Damp mop heads can harbour germs and will spread them around the floor if not properly disinfected themselves. Ensure cleaning equipment is clean before use!
Cross contamination is also one of the most common and dangerous of kitchen nightmares. Keeping raw and cooked food separate, using separate equipment and washing hands between tasks and handling different types of food is paramount. Avoid spreading bacteria from raw food to cooked and to your guests by making sure your staff understand what cross contamination is, and how it can be avoided.