There is a very big difference between looking clean and actually being clean. Unfortunately, nice and shiny or appearing spotless does not mean that a work surface is safe to prepare food, because you often cannot see the danger. There is quite a bit of time spent in a Level 2 food hygiene course discussing the correct and appropriate way to ensure your food preparation area meets the standards required. Obviously, we cannot cover all the requirements for a clean kitchen in this one article, but these are just a few hints and tips to help you really get your prep area clean:
- Read the label.
Cleaning products will usually have very clear instructions on them about the amount to use and effective application. Additional sloshing of extra amounts of the product is not likely to make any real difference to the cleanliness of the surface. In fact, you may well be exchanging a potential biological hazard with a chemical one if you overuse cleaners. A good example of this is the sticky pub table or bar top that is often caused by an overuse of the sanitising agent than being due to any food or drink residue.
- Seeing is most definitely not believing when it comes to cleaning.
As we said in the opening paragraph, looking clean and being clean are two very different things. The human eye cannot see bacteria, and although, obviously, you should remove any visible debris or contamination, you should still follow the cleaning process no matter how clean the surface looks.
- Your cleaner should also be clean.
Your cleaning agent and/or sanitising liquid should meet the required standard for the job, and so should your cleaning materials. No matter how good the cleaning agent is at killing bacteria, if you wipe it down with dirty cloth you are probably achieving nothing at all. Mops, sponges and other items should have one purpose and must be cleaned or replaced regularly.
- Be clean to make clean.
Your own personal hygiene is very important. Cross-contamination from hands is a common cause of food poisoning, so frequent washing is important. Remember to wash after you have been cleaning surfaces before you start to work with food.
- Cross-contamination can kill.
Cleaning a surface and making the area safe is much easier if you know what you are dealing with. Have clear preparation areas for different foodstuffs and pay particular attention to the cleaning of high risk food prep areas such as raw chicken to avoid any danger of cross contamination.
- Nooks and crannies are breeding grounds.
It probably goes without saying, but remember that joins in surfaces such as tiled areas and where a workbench meets a wall are great breeding grounds for bacteria. When you are cleaning, make sure you get to the edges of tables and chopping boards.
If you have taken your food hygiene training then you probably already do all of the above, and, of course, this is not a full list of how to clean a working kitchen, it is just a few suggestions and reminders.
Clean work areas are vital for avoiding food poisoning, so a good cleaning regime is important for safety in the kitchen.