Monthly Archive for December, 2009

Which Dangerous Germs Could Be Breeding in Your Food Preparation Area? 

We may have developed vaccines to counter small pox and other such diseases. We may have developed great techniques to store food in a germless environment in large laboratories. However, when it comes to food preparation in our day to day lives, are we really safe?

Just the other day David went to his favourite grill for a late lunch. While sitting at the bar he could see directly into the kitchen area, what he witnessed sickened him. The main chef had long shoulder length hair that was waving it over the grill, not only was there no hairnet he did not even have his hair pulled back. To the right of the cook was a girl preparing salads who obviously had a cold because her nose was running so she quickly wiped it on the back of her hand and went right back to chopping tomatoes.

Needless to say, David never went to that place again!

Unfortunately, this situation is repeated all too often in restaurants throughout the country. What most people are oblivious to is the millions of germs that live in these places. Simple cleaning practices kill most germs however grimy surfaces, unwashed hands and fingers are prime breeding areas. Not all germs are harmful but unfortunately those that are dangerous far outnumber those that are safe.

Studies have revealed that a toilet seat has fewer germs than most kitchens. If this tells us nothing else, it should alert us to the fact that proper cleanliness should be a top priority for restaurants and other food service areas.

Here are some common varieties of germs which may inhabit the kitchen and food preparation areas of commercial restaurants:

Staphylococcus aureus: More commonly known as Staph, it is present in the nose and on the skin. On the skin it causes relatively small lesions but when it’s found in food it can lead to serious illness!

Salmonella: This bacterium loves non-vegetarians! Commonly found in meat and chicken products, Salmonella can cause food poisoning.

Clostridium Botulinium: Causes a disease called Botulism which can be fatal if left unattended. This bacterium inhabits canned foods, meats and vegetables.

This is by no means a complete list of the common bacteria found in food that can cause serious complications. These are simply a sample; there are many more things like fungi, protozoa and viruses that find their way into kitchens and restaurants across the nation.

Is there any way to avoid these germs? How can you make your kitchen a disease free zone?

Here is a list of actions you can take to keep your kitchen germ free:

- Replace your dishrags with paper towels. Use cleaning tools that are the disposable type and if you must use a cloth rag for cleaning make sure to wash it in hot water and soap.

- Buy a supply of rubber gloves for use while handling food, especially meat.

- Use cutting boards and replace them frequently. Cutting boards are a favourite play grounds for germs. Replace the boards once you see too many scratches on them and use different cutting boards for different foods. For example use one cutting board for meat and another for vegetables.

These are some simple yet powerful ways to rid your kitchen of harmful germs and keep your customers healthy.

If you are ready to get down to the nitty gritty there are professionals out there to assist you. They will watch the food safety procedures in place in your kitchen and give you a grade based on national standard guidelines of hygiene. From handling food to cleanliness of food and preparation areas, they handle them all and even assist in training your staff.

Do You Know How to Choose a Restaurant that is Safe, Healthy and Hygienic?

It’s not surprising that most people enjoy eating out. After all, it is convenient and usually enjoyable. Unfortunately, a food outlet that lacks hygiene and cleanliness can easily turn a good experience into an unpleasant one. How can we avoid this when most of us are unable to ascertain whether or not a restaurant, caf or other food preparation establishment is really clean?

Food safety inspectors therefore play a very important role in insuring that restaurants and other food outlets maintain acceptable standards of hygiene and cleanliness. Ordinary people can learn to recognise signs indicating whether or not a restaurant is clean and safe to eat at. Here are a few points to think about when deciding whether or not to eat at a particular establishment.

An obvious indication that the dining establishment lacks quality is the presence of garbage and waste both inside and outside the premises. Even if the trash has been removed from the kitchen, the presence of garbage just outside is not a good sign. Overflowing garbage bins attract rodents and the growth of bacteria and germs.

However, not all trash is a problem. If the garbage has not been there for very long and the food waste is not rotting, there is no problem. It is normal for busy restaurants to throw away a lot of food waste every day. A build up of waste is a problem when it is rotting and emits a foul smell. Don’t even consider eating at places where this occurs.

Foul smells should be a red flag when it comes to dining. However, a smell doesn’t have to be really foul for it to be a warning. If you detect a ‘funny’ smell, it is a sign that food may be going off. It also suggests that the restaurant may not be cleaned properly. So, don’t take a risk. If something doesn’t smell quite right, trust your nose and go somewhere else.

There are also signs that you can look for which indicate that a restaurant has high standards. One of the most obvious ones is whether or not it is consistently popular. Let’s face it, if a restaurant has been in business for a while and attracts a lot of business, it is not likely to have poor standards of safety and quality. High turnover also means that food is used and replaced by fresh products regularly, reducing the likelihood of food spoiling or even rotting.

You can also get a lot of information about a place by glancing over the interior of the restaurant. Is it neat and tidy? Are health and safety certifications prominently displayed? Health agencies take their inspection and certification role seriously so positive certifications mean that the restaurant is safe, clean and hygienic. You can go ahead and enjoy your meal.

When we go out to eat, we all want to have a safe and enjoyable experience, but this will be dependent on the cleanliness and hygiene of the establishment. A great tasting meal can become a nightmare if it is full of bacteria. The good news is, by following these tips we can learn to identify and choose safe, clean and hygienic restaurants and avoid those which are suspect.