A clean as you go policy is pretty much a standard working practice in the food industry. There is a very good reason for this. Clean as you go is one of the easiest and most reliable ways of ensuring that you meet the food hygiene standards required by the Environmental Health Office (EHO) and that you maintain a clean and consistently safe work environment.
What Is The Clean As You Go?
It is exactly what it sounds like. Clean as you go means that your team has a policy of responding to the cleaning needs of your work area as soon as is appropriate. You can see it in action in many supermarkets. Next time you are out shopping take a look around the bottom of the shelves and cold displays or try and peek into the storage areas. You will often see a cleaning kit of some variety where it can be easily accessed. It will usually be very clearly labelled as ‘clean as you go kit’ and often it is a long drawer under the display units. It is not just retail that will have a clean as you go policy though. Every food based environment will normally have a policy, all the team will be trained to adhere to it and most importantly respond when cleaning is needed.
The policy will usually fall into two fairly straightforward general areas, Immediate and Scheduled. Sometimes these will be called other things such as Urgent or Daily Cleaning but whatever they are called in the clean as you go policy, they will be about the same two functions.
Spills and urgent cleans – These should be responded to immediately. This category will include liquid spills, broken items, trip hazards, dropped foodstuffs, chemical spills and similar incidents. For the most part this will be because of an accident such as a dropped pan or a smashed bottle but remember it also includes other hazards such as wet floors due to weather conditions, dropped debris from non-food items or over full refuse and recycling containers. You could also find variable frequency jobs such as washing dishes or cleaning surfaces in both policy areas depending on need.
Daily or scheduled cleans – These are part of your regular or specific cleaning schedule. It will include items such as daily emptying of the waste materials, disinfection and anti-bacterial treatment of surfaces. End of the day storage of equipment, floor cleaning and other daily tasks will depend on the environment.
How Does A Clean As You Go Policy Work?
Basically, your policy should list what to do and how to do it when cleaning is needed. So, your daily policy will clearly lay out the who, when and what of your daily schedules. It is a sort of master plan of daily cleaning and where appropriate there will be separate paperwork recording when and by whom the tasks were completed. You will often see these area cleaning reports on the door of toilets in restaurants and so on.
The clean as you go policy is there to ensure that team members respond quickly and correctly to a situation where cleaning is required. So, it will describe general types of immediate response situations, what equipment to use, how to respond and so forth.
Current and new staff members, should be familiar with the policy and it should be built into the expectation of the team so that they will know about and be able to properly use things such as:
- When essential cleaning tasks should be completed
- The correct disposal of refuse and when this should occur
- Placement of standard cleaning equipment and spill kits
- First concern areas such as food preparation surfaces and areas such as walkways and public areas that should be kept particularly clean and clear
- The proper use of cleaning materials
This is not a comprehensive list and you will need to make sure the schedules are appropriate for your local conditions and workplace needs. The message in the clean as you go policy is one of attention to the overall need to have a clean workplace as a matter of course. Cleaning and hygiene should be instinctive to the team.
Why Is A Clean As You Go Policy So Important?
Clean as you go is a very powerful tool when it comes to managing risk. Instant response to spills for example will protect the team and public against the possibility of slips and falls, ensure that any spilled food does not have time to become a bacterial risk, stop any associated breakage becoming a physical contamination risk and ensure that no food stuffs are allowed to attract pests, to name but a few reasons why it is important. Your immediate response kit will usually have the following items.
- A big roll of absorbent paper towel or equivalent
- Rubbish sack or similar for waste materials
- A suitable disinfectant cleaner or spray (which kind will depend on your circumstances)
- Usually there will be some sort of absorbent substance to spread on spills. Sand or similar is the usual choice
- Sponges and/or J-cloth type roll
- And of course, a good, old fashioned dustpan and brush to collect any debris
When a spill occurs your spill kit should contain everything you need to instantly deal with specific workplace based accidents as well as general spills. You will know best what is likely to be needed. Here is a spill kit contents list as an example.
Equipment, Surfaces & Footfall Areas
Regular and consistent cleaning of equipment such as chopping boards, knives, surfaces and preparation areas means that you will be able to reduce the risk of cross contamination and bacterial development. This is very important when dealing with allergens such as peanuts which can be dangerous in very small quantities. Cleaning after every use and ensuring that the equipment ends and starts the day fully cleaned coupled with regular cleaning through the working day is a must. Some equipment will have a separate Clean in Place (CiP) procedure which should always be followed. You may also find that some equipment will have a procedure card to ensure effective use.
It is worth extending your cleaning procedures to cover walkways and areas that are not actually part of the main work environment. Corridors, walkways and stairways can all become very dangerous if they are cluttered or subject to spills.
In the end your clean as you go policy should encourage the team to constantly maintain a clean and safe environment. As long as your policy is clear and appropriate, and the team follow the procedures, you will be able to sit back knowing that you have done all you can to anticipate your cleaning needs.
The basic knowledge of food hygiene, including clean as you go, is included in the level 1 food hygiene training course. If you and your workplace require a better, more deeper understanding of food hygiene, there are level 2 food hygiene courses and level 3 food hygiene face to face courses available.