How To Clean Safely To Protect Your Food Business

Creating and sticking to an efficient cleaning schedule is important for any food business, not just because it makes the process of maintaining food hygiene standards easier, but because it also acts as a written record for the dreaded Environmental Health Officer (EHO) inspections. However, allocating tasks and completing them is only half the battle. It is vital that business owners make sure that every task is carried out regularly enough and most importantly, that it is done properly and safely.

Our Top 10 Safety Tips when Cleaning

  1. Before you start cleaning, make sure that food is safely stored out of the way and cannot be contaminated
  2. If you are cleaning a refrigerator, cold room or freezer, ensure that the food is kept at a safe temperature outside the danger zone
  3. Switch off and isolate electrical equipment, such as slicers, refrigerators, vending machines, processing machines with dry hands before you start to clean
  4. Ensure that you know how to use a cleaning chemical safely and always follow the manufacturer’s instructions
  5. Do not leave items to soak in disinfectant for longer than the manufacturer’s recommended contact time because bacteria may become resistant to the chemicals. Never leave them to soak overnight
  6. Wear protective clothing, such as rubber gloves and goggles, appropriate to the job
  7. Never mix chemicals together, they could explode, cause toxic fumes or burn your skin
  8. Work through the stages of cleaning in a way that does not spread dust or dirt, avoid being distracted in a way that puts you, other people or food at risk
  9. Clean and disinfect mops and cloths soon after use and leave them to dry in the air
  10. Always store chemicals, cleaning equipment away from food and only store chemicals in the original labelled containers designed for that purpose

It is important to remember that bacteria can be present on food that arrives at your business and if this is the case, these bacteria will remain present while the food is in storage. It is therefore essential that workspaces are as clean as possible to minimise the chance of such bacteria spreading. Keeping staff up to date with information and informing them of the risks and situations in which bacteria can multiply will give your business the best chance of maintaining a sufficiently hygienic and safe environment.

Cleaning should be considered as part of the job role for anyone who handles food, even in the smallest capacity. Because of this, all staff should be suitably trained for any cleaning tasks they will be expected to carry out so that they know exactly how to go about the process in a safe and reliable manner. As a business owner, if you are depending on your staff to carry out the necessary hygiene maintenance to run an effective food business, you need to be certain that each team member can be trusted to do things properly.

Cleaning should never be an afterthought in any food business and it should be given prominence within the daily routine. A slap dash wipe over surfaces does not mean that they are safe to work on and it won’t be considered as a genuine attempt to uphold Food Hygiene Legislation by any EHO.

A Guide To Spring Cleaning For Food Business Owners

Unfortunately, when it comes to dining out, negative experiences are more memorable than positive ones. Because of this, you can be sure if any diners have a bad time at your restaurant, it won’t be long before their family, friends, neighbours or even casual acquaintances know about it. One thing is for certain though; the worst reputation you can get is one of poor hygiene.

While few can honestly say that they enjoy cleaning, there is some satisfaction to be gained from a job well done. Cleaning should be considered as part of the necessary preparation involved with handling or cooking food. Just as an oven needs to be preheated before a joint of meat goes in, surfaces need to be scrubbed, scoured and wiped before food can be prepared on them. These activities do not need to become a massive chore; once initiated into a routine, staff should be able to complete these actions effectively and regularly. Some chores will require a ‘clean as you go’ approach, others may need to be done daily and some less frequently still. It is important that all staff are aware of what needs doing and when to ensure that the correct level of hygiene is maintained all day, every day.

Aside from the obvious reasons to clean in areas where food is prepared, such as to avoid contamination and make a good impression on customers, there are other things to consider too. As well as keeping bacteria at bay, cleaning also reduces opportunities for bacterial multiplication by removing food particles and a clean area is also much less likely to attract pests. Keeping on top of spillages is also vital for safety in the kitchen as accidents can occur on wet or greasy floors which make it easy to slip. Finally, food establishment owners have a legal obligation to maintain food safety standards to a certain level.

Local authorities are responsible for producing a Food Law Enforcement Plan which identifies measures they will take each year within their area to ensure food safety within food businesses. Businesses therefore need to create and follow a cleaning schedule which can help them maintain a satisfactory status and avoid embarrassing cases of contamination.

So how should food businesses structure their cleaning to make sure it is of a high enough standard?

Six Stages of Cleaning

Stage 1 – Pre-clean. Remove loose and heavy soiling, for example, scrape plates and chopping boards, or soak pans.
Stage 2 – Main clean. Wash with hot water and detergent.
Stage 3 – Rinse. Remove any traces of detergent and food particles with clean hot water.
Stage 4 – Disinfection. Use a chemical disinfectant, and leave it on for the correct contact time.
Stage 5 – Final rinse. Use clean hot water.
Stage 6 – Dry. If possible, leave items to dry naturally in the air, because the use of drying cloths can spread bacteria. If you have to use a cloth try to use disposable paper ones.

The development of a cleaning schedule is an employer’s responsibility. It should set out which tasks should be done, how certain areas should be cleaned and who is responsible for each task. Plenty of time should be allowed to ensure that all cleaning duties are carried out to a satisfactory level.

Catering Van for Your Mobile Food Business

If you’re planning on starting a food business but don’t have enough capital to put-up a diner or a restaurant, you may want to consider starting your food business through a mobile catering van.

There are a lot of mobile food businesses these days and they cater to a wide range of customers. From offering burgers, hotdogs and deli sandwiches to numerous beverages; these mobile food businesses thrive when exposed to the right market.

This being said, starting this type of business requires careful study in order to get it off the ground towards the right direction. If you are passionate about food and people, you’ve got two very important factors already under your belt.

START YOUR FOOD BUSINESS ON THE RIGHT TRACK

One of the first things you need to consider when starting this kind of business is the product that you would like to offer. Since a catering van, although well-equipped with cooking paraphernalia, still has its limitations, hence; food or beverage that is easy to prepare should be considered.

If you are jumping on the bandwagon and would want to sell burgers and other fast food items; consider your selling point. Do you have a special ingredient or recipe that would make your burgers or sandwiches more appealing to your prospective customers?

Perhaps you can offer your items at lower prices but still of superior quality. Thinking of a come-on to attract customers and keep them coming back for more is essential to stabilize your business and also to allow you to expand in the future.

Who is your target market and where do you plan to park your mobile business? Mobile of course means that you can transfer from one place to the next without trouble, but staying in one particular area at a time could increase your clientele before moving on to the next.

Costing and budgeting come next. This includes expenses for your ingredients and packaging, gasoline and other expenditures. You should also include here the amount you shelled-out for your catering van.

If getting a brand new van is not possible at this time, there are a lot of second-hand vans that you can purchase and you may find some great deals on the internet.

BUYING YOUR VAN

As mentioned, there are a lot of used vans for catering that you can find on the internet. These are full-equipped with essential cooking utilities such as oven, microwave oven, a sink, stovetop and even a small refrigerator.

You may also add other cooking equipment if there are other things you deem essential for your cooking. The prices may vary but you can get a pretty good deal on these and the prices are usually still negotiable, depending on the owner of the van.

You can arrange with the owner for an ocular inspection and even a test drive so you can see the exact condition of the van and decide on whether or not it is what you actually need.

Most used vans are specifically equipped for certain food products such as a burger van or a sandwich van; and even a beverage van; so you may also check these factors out when looking for your mobile food van.