Restaurant Management 101: Employee Hand Washing

employee hand washing
It’s no secret that regular hand washing is essential to good hygiene. This is especially true in restaurant environments, where food contamination can run rampant under unhygienic circumstances.

If you want to prevent the spread of microorganisms and bacteria in your restaurant, it’s important that your employees understand the basics of hand washing – before they begin serving your customers.

How should employees wash their hands?

Hand washing compliance starts with the right supplies. Your employees certainly can’t do an effective job without the basics:

When washing, your employees should begin by wetting their hands and forearms. Next they should add a pump of foaming hand soap. The soap should be rubbed over the surface of the skin – making sure to get the fingers, wrists and under the nails.

Approximately 20 seconds of rubbing and lathering should occur before rinsing. We’ve all heard tricks like sing happy birthday or say your ABC’s while you wash, but in most cases that’s doesn’t allow enough time for a thorough washing.

Once 20 seconds have passed, the soap should be rinsed away with warm running water, followed by a complete drying with paper towels or a hand dryer. It’s important to point out that employees should not dry their hands using their pants or apron. This can re-contaminate the hands.

When should employees be washing their hands?

  • In advance of food preparation. Food preparation is defined as working with any food equipment and utensils.
  • Any time the hands coming in touch with bare skin (e.g., touching their face or hair).
  • After using the restroom.
  • After touching or handling an animal.
  • Any time an employee sneezes or coughs.
  • Several times throughout the food preparation process to prevent cross-contamination.
  • Prior to presenting food to customers.

Image Credit: Wikimedia Commons

Preventing Harm: Tips for Cleaning Foodservice Floors

restaurant cleaning
When it comes to floor cleaning, restaurants, commercial kitchens, and other foodservice areas are some of the most difficult to handle.

Unlike restrooms, where contaminants are mostly water-soluble (and therefore easier to clean), foodservice floors are home to a variety of soils mixed with grease, oil and whatever else has been tracked in from outside. And because most foodservice areas are high traffic throughout the day, floors need to be cleaned multiple times throughout the day.

While the problem might seem simple for a commercial cleaning professional, most restaurants and foodservice providers don’t have the budget to hire a professional. Instead, they rely on regular employees (e.g., cooks, cashiers and servers) to do the brunt of the work.

Foodservice Employee Training Needs to Include Commercial Cleaning & Maintenance Education

In addition to purchasing the right cleaning products (every non-slip foodservice floor starts with a floor degreaser) and cleaning equipment (brooms, mops, etc.), you need to reinforce employee behaviors. A thorough cleaning education program should include the following:

  • Management should compile a comprehensive cleaning & maintenance guide
  • Employees who go above and beyond should be recognized and rewarded
  • Cleaning & maintenance best practices should be demonstrated though extensive training

Though many restaurant owners and managers might frown at the additional costs associated with comprehensive training, they could end up saving a lot in the long run. Many liability issues related to slips, falls and other cleaning dangers can easily be prevented through proper cleaning tools and preventative processes.

A working commercial kitchen environment will always be a dangerous environment, so it’s important to make employee safety and health a top priority.

If you’re looking for high quality degreasers for your commercial kitchen, you can count on National Purity. We carry an extensive line of kitchen degreasers and environmentally degreasers.

Image Credit: Flickr

Our Comprehensive Restaurant Kitchen Cleaning Checklist

restaurant cleaning
As we’ve previously discussed, there’s nothing more disgusting to a customer than a dirty restaurant – and the same goes for behind-the-scenes. If you want to keep your customers healthy and happy, you’ve got to keep your kitchen spic-and-span.

Checkout the checklist below:

Throughout a Shift Cleaning Checklist

  • Brush grill in between cooking meat, poultry and fish
  • Wipe down countertops and prep areas
  • Switch and/or clean cutting boards
  • Empty trash bins
  • Switch out cleaning rags and sanitizing water
  • Restock supplies

After Shift Cleaning Checklist (breakfast, lunch and dinner)

  • Clean fryers, grills, grease traps, slicers and other pertinent kitchen equipment
  • Change foil liners on stoves, grills and flattops
  • Run hood filters through dishwasher
  • Sanitize and wipe down all cooking surfaces
  • Sweep and mop the floors and wipe down floor mats
  • Place all aprons (and other kitchen-specific clothing) in laundry
  • Cover all food bins with plastic wrap

Weekly Cleaning Checklist

  • Scrub dirt and grime off of sinks and faucets
  • Empty out and sanitize coolers and refrigerators
  • Clean oven (always follow manufacturer’s instructions), coffee machine and other kitchen equipment
  • Use drain cleaners to clear out floor drains

Monthly Cleaning Checklist

  • Use degreaser behind ovens, stoves and fryers to prevent grease fires.
  • Clean out freezers
  • Calibrate thermometers and ovens
  • Scrub down walls, doors, cupboards and dry storage area
  • Empty out ice machine and sanitize

It’s important to remember that a cleaning checklist is only the first step to maintaining a clean kitchen. Your employees need routine training, the right equipment and cleaning supplies and of course regular encouragement to get the job done right on a daily basis, weekly and monthly basis.

Image Credit: Wikimedia Commons

Why Cleaning Trumps Cooking in the Restaurant Business

restaurant cleaningIn a high-production food service environment, it can be easy to let some things go unnoticed – especially in the cleaning department. If this sounds like you, you’re probably doing some serious harm to the long-term success of your restaurant.

With the high visibility of reality shows like Kitchen Nightmares and Restaurant: Impossible, consumers are finding it more and more difficult to turn a blind eye to mediocre cleaning standards.

Restaurant cleanliness “might be the most important marketing job in your restaurant”

In a recent piece published on, Ed Zimmerman, founder of The Food Connector, elaborates on the issue of dining room and bathroom cleanliness.

According to Zimmerman, restaurant cleanliness “might be the most important marketing job in your restaurant,” especially with today’s fast-paced consumer review process:

“Great food paired with great service is not always enough to win great restaurant reviews. You must offer those items in a clean, safe environment where consumers feel comfortable. In these days of consumer safety and YELP, you cannot afford to be less than clean.”

Zimmerman’s Restaurant Cleaning Tips

#1 Survey Your Restaurant

Grab a clipboard and survey your restaurant. List all elements of operation e.g., hallways and entryways, host station and carryout area, dining room, bathrooms, all doors, tables and chairs (on top and underneath), salt and pepper shakes, etc.

#2 Create a List of Improvements

Walk around and rate the condition of each element on your list. Is there anything appears less than sparkling clean? Is anything in need of a fresh coat of paint? Is anything in disrepair? Though time-consuming, running through everything item-by-item will take the big picture out of focus so you can see the small details.

#3 Prioritize Your Time

Once you’ve got a comprehensive list in front of you, it’s time to prioritize. Clean/repair all of the small items first. If your staff is too busy – you need to hire an outside commercial cleaning company. Once the small stuff is taken care of, it’s time to shift your attention to areas that are visible to customers. Some elbow grease and a little paint can really go a long way.

#4 Shift Focus to the Exterior

Don’t forget the outside exterior of your restaurant. Upgrades like replacing light bulbs, re-striping lines in your parking lot and re-painting can dramatically improve the image of your restaurant and give customers a greater sense of safety. If you can, negotiate these with your landlord.

If you want to succeed in the restaurant business, it’s important to think like a customer. And really, nothing makes it more difficult to enjoy a good meal than a dirty or unkempt space.

When you’re ready to clean up your restaurant, you can count on National Purity. We carry all of the bulk cleaning supplies you’ll need to keep your restaurant in tip-top shape.

Image Credit: Flickr

The Hidden Dangers of Commercial Cleaning Residue

By now, most of us are aware that chemical cleaning products aren’t very good for the environment or for our bodies. But what about the residue left behind after cleaning, is that harmful too?

The vast majority of chemical cleaning products we use to maintain facilities are made from some type of soap, oil or surfactant. As a result, residues can gradually build up over time – though they may be hidden from the naked eye.

Whether or not these residues are harmful ultimately depends on the chemistry of the solution being used. Generally speaking, the more toxic a chemical cleaner is – the greater the health risk.

Risks associated with cleaning chemical residue:

  • Dangerously slippery floors or other surfaces – When a surface feels slick or slippery following a thorough cleaning, this is a good indication that residue has been left behind.
  • Food for microbes – Residual product provides a food source for microbes – which cause the surface to become re-contaminated – increasing the need for additional cleaning.
  • Indoor air quality issues – Chemical residues can become airborne, aggravating asthma, allergies and other respiratory issues.

Chemical residues not only pose health and safety risks for building occupants, they also might contribute to building degradation over time.

So what can you do to prevent chemical residue?

Environmentally-friendly cleaning products!

Unfortunately there aren’t many chemical cleaning products that are residue-free. But there are a variety of green commercial cleaning products like soap-free detergents that can service as a great first step towards eliminating safety and health risks. Some solvents and team vapor systems are also good examples of residue-free chemistry, but they may not be as kind to the environment.

Cleaning with green rinse-free products from the start is the best way to eliminate build-up over time. At National Purity, we carry a variety of green all-purpose cleaners, green soaps and green degreasers. Learn more about our products.

Do cleaning supplies like sponges carry bacteria?

sponge bacteria
If you’re a cleaning supplies freak like us, you may not want to hear this – but that kitchen sponge you’ve been using to clean your dishes may actually be one of the dirtiest items in your home.

In fact, you may be better off just cutting your veggies on a toilet seat rather than that chopping board you just wiped down. According to a new study, common cleaning supplies like kitchen sponges and dish rags carry around 10 million bacteria per square inch, and are “200,000 dirtier than a toilet seat”.

Sponge Bacteria May Cause Serious Health Conditions

Though much of the bacteria lurking on sponges are thought to be harmless, Hugh Pennington, one of Britain’s leading microbiologists wants consumers to know that dirty cleaning supplies like sponges can actually be dangerous.

A bacterium called campylobacter remains a big concern for the Health Protection agency. Campylobacter, which naturally occurs from poultry, can result in Guillain-Barre syndrome.

Guillain-Barre syndrome, a potentially deadly muscle disorder, can cause paralysis, severe pain, difficulty breathing and rapid heartbeat. Don’t worry too much though – Guillain-Barre syndrome is rare, at only 1-2 cases per 100,000 people annually and the majority of those affected recover.

If you don’t have access to a dishwasher and sponges are your only option – just remember to sanitize them on a regular basis.

Image Credit: Wikimedia Commons

Should I use antibacterial foaming hand soap?

hand soap
These days, it seems like you can’t even wash your hands without coming across antibacterial foaming hand soap. And while most of us can probably agree that regular hand washing is a crucial component to good health, there seems to be a divide when it comes to antibacterial.

It’s just soap…what’s the big deal?

There are several issues of concern when it comes to antibacterial soap – and most of them are related to its main active ingredient triclosan. Triclosan, which is found in nearly 75% of antibacterial hand soaps, has been widely scrutinized in the last decade.

Why researchers and consumers are concerned about triclosan:

  • Triclosan needs to be left on the surface of the skin for at least two minutes to be effective. Most people aren’t that patient.
  • Some researchers believe that bacteria could eventually develop a resistance to bactericidal agents like triclosan over time.
  • Being exposed to some bacteria is actually beneficial to your health. The normal population of bacteria living in our body helps fend off dangerous bacteria.
  • Many diseases are viral in nature, which means they can’t be prevented using antibacterial soap anyway

So when should you be using antibacterial foaming hand soap?

A clean environment and a clean body are important, but not every inch of every surface needs to be sterile in order to be safe. On a daily basis, antibacterial soap may a little much for the average person.

However, there are definitely instances where antibacterial foaming hand soap is appropriate, such as:

  • In health-care settings where there’s a risk of transferring bacteria from patient to patient.
  • In restaurant settings where someone is handling raw meat or fish.

The takeaway

Unless you work in a healthcare or restaurant setting, you may want to stick to regular soap and water. However, if antibacterial foaming hand soap is your only option, it’s certainly safe to use – but probably a little overkill on a daily basis.

Are Restaurant Plates Making You Sick?

bacteria-restaurant-platesPut that burger down.

When eating at your favorite restaurant, the last you thing you want to think about is their commercial cleaning habits – but maybe you should. New research suggests that restaurant tableware may be an overlooked stomach flu hotspot.

“We know that when public food establishments follow the cleaning protocols, they do a very good job at getting rid of bacteria,” said Melvin Pascall, associate professor, Department of Food Science and Technology at Ohio State. “Now we can see that the protocols are less effective at removing and killing viruses — and this may help explain why there are still so many illnesses caused by cross-contaminated food.”

Stomach Flu Survives Commercial Cleaning Dishwashers

To test their theory, the research team at Ohio State infused two difficult to clean foods – cream cheese and reduced fat milk – with murine norovirus (stomach flu), E. coli K-12 or Listeria innocua. The researchers then applied the infected food to ceramic plates, glassware and stainless steel utensils. The tableware was then washed, using either traditional hand washing or a commercial dishwasher.

And the results?

The team found that both the commercial cleaning dishwashers and manual hand washing reduced E. coli K-12 and Listeria innocua to safety standards. However – neither method was able to significantly reduce the presence of murine norovirus.

In general, commercial dishwashers were more effective at eliminating both the presence of bacteria and viruses (no surprise there), but they’re still not enough. Norovirus is highly contagious – even just a few particles are enough to infect an unsuspecting diner.

“Proper sanitation and handling remain the single biggest factor that can prevent cross-contamination of food and dishware at food service establishments, said Pascall. ”However, it appears that we need to identify better agents or methods to significantly reduce the presence of norovirus and work to update the protocols.”

Noroviruses can lead to severe diarrhea and vomiting, and remain a major cause of gastroenteritis in hospitals, cruise ships and other “closed communities” where the virus can quickly spread.

Image Credit: Wikimedia Commons

World Toliet Day: Sanitation Matters

Image Source: The Christian Science Monitor

World Toilet Day came and went a few weeks ago, unnoticed by many. Created back in 2001 to raise global awareness of the struggle billions face every day without access to clean sanitation – World Toilet Day has still failed to gain the same level of public interest achieved by other international awareness events (such as World Water Day on March 22nd).

Why World Toilet Day?

Water contamination is one of the fastest growing threats to life as we know it worldwide – and a significant amount of contamination is directly related to human sewage.

According to the World Toilet Organization, “Over a billion of the 6 billion people in the world are served by sewerage systems but much of this sewerage is discharged into rivers, lakes and the sea with little or no treatment.”

  • Roughly 2.5 billion people do not have access to a toilet worldwide
  • Over a billion people are still defecating in the open
  • Around 1.5 million deaths are cause by diarrhea each year
  • Diarrhea remains the second leading cause for children under five

World Toilet Day is an opportunity to shed some light the world’s current sewage crisis and to look toward a solution that can facilitate transformative change.

How you can help…

Whether you have professional expertise in a particular field, or a just a desire to contribute, you can play an integral role in advocating for and on behalf of the 2.5 billion people who lack safe access to a toilet.

Ways to get involved:

  • Follow World Toilet Day on Twitter and Facebook
  • Sign the Keep Your Promises petition
  • Host or plan an event your area next year
  • Contribute press releases to local media
  • Ask local sports or cultural events to promote sanitation messages
  • Spread the word anyway you can!

Are Janitors More Likely to Get the Flu?

Seasonal influenza is a contagious respiratory illness that affects approximately 5-20% of U.S. residents each year.

But who’s the most likely to get the flu?

According to a recent study of 8,700 Washington State workers conducted by the scientific journal PLOS ONE, janitors are the most likely to exhibit flu-like symptoms.

Though it might seem like teachers, healthcare workers and other professionals that work one-on-one with flu-stricken adults and children would be more prone to the bug – behind the scenes workers are actually more susceptible.

According to co-author Naomi Anderson – an epidemiologist with the State Department of Labor and Industries – the main “reason janitors are more prone to the flu is that they clean areas and objects that often harbor bacteria.”

“They’re cleaning up after us, disinfecting surfaces and touching things that are handled a lot like door knobs and handling materials and other things that could be contaminated,” Anderson went on to say.

So what’s the take away from this?

Perhaps custodial workers aren’t receiving the essential equipment and training necessary to protect them from contracting the flu. More research is certainly needed establish a cause and to find an appropriate solution.

Image Credit: Flickr