The Importance of Hygiene in Kitchens: For Businesses and Patrons


The shock-waves of the ‘Chipotle Incident’ are still felt across the restaurant business internationally. After 100 patrons of Chipotle fell prey to food poisoning at the end of 2015, the restaurant has seen a decline in visitors to the chain, and with that, profits. Chipotle are said to have made an out of court settlement with the patrons who suffered the bout of food poisoning, and the pay-out is assumed to be costly.

The president of Chipotle’s biggest rival, Panera Bread, was right in saying the world we live is post-Chipotle. Patrons are more concerned than ever before about high standards of food safety in the kitchens of the restaurants they visit.  They want to know they’re receiving great food from a pristine environment.

With the outbreak of E-Coli reducing visitors to Chipotle by 27.5%, patrons have shown that if they don’t receive high standards of food safety from you, they’ll go to your competitors. Now more than ever, restauranteurs should be concerned about the standards of hygiene in their kitchen to protect their business.

Encourage Staff Hygiene

This is perhaps the most obvious bit of advice, but it seems to be one that’s consistently overlooked. A lack of handwashing is causing the most problems in restaurants, and it remains the biggest cause of illnesses after eating.  It’s estimated that a shockingly high 33% of staff in restaurants are not washing their hands after contamination events, such as preparing raw meat or going to the toilet. This presents a real danger to the safety of patrons.

It needs to be made clear to kitchen staff that a lack of proper hygiene from them has the potential to jeopardize the business, and with it, their jobs. There are high stakes to jeopardizing the safety of patrons and that needs to be made clear.

Good hygiene can be encouraged by posters in the kitchen that explain instances that require hand washing and warn of the severity of not washing. One restauranteur uses ethernet monitors which record which staff are using the soap dispensers, and then he appropriately chastises staff who are not washing their hands enough. That can come across as extreme, so weekly or fortnightly meetings where the importance of food hygiene is emphasized should be enough.

Maintain a Spotless Kitchen

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Staff need to be encouraged to clean as they go, not just doing a big clean at the end of the day. Dirty workstations offer a tremendous risk of contamination, and it’s crucial that after each prep the work surface is cleaned properly. Most commercial kitchens use separate chopping boards for meat, fish and vegetables, but this alone is not enough. Raw food harbor bacteria which can spread to the worksurface from the chopping board. Frequent wiping of worksurfaces is the only method of maintaining adequate hygiene.

A big barrier to maintaining a spotless kitchen is the reluctance of kitchen staff to do the job thoroughly. There are few places more chaotic on this earth than a commercial kitchen during peak business hours, and after a grueling day of food prep staff are likely to cut corners when it comes to cleaning down at the end of day. This neglect can lead to kitchens where bacteria flourishes and insects begin to keep dominate. It’s a good idea to get a kitchen deep cleaned regularly by a service such as Halo Restoration Services to ensure yours is as hygienic as it possibly can be.

Ban Corrugated Cardboard

This may come as a surprise, but cardboard can prove to be a big risk to the overall hygiene of a kitchen. Many hospitals have banned goods that arrive in corrugated carboard containers due to the risk of contamination they pose.

Insects hide inside the grooves of corrugated cardboard, and they can pick up plenty of bacteria during transit. Leave the cardboard outside the kitchen and wash down any jars or containers you’re bringing in to ensure there’s no unwanted guests.

Taking these measures can help reduce the risk posed to patrons and protect your business.

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Jeremy Kaplan

A 50-something year old lifestyle, career, and education blogger based in Atlanta, Georgia. Years of experience in the office setting working with others and still loving it year-after-year.

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