Whether you eat out every night or only once a week, the question of restaurant sanitation will likely arise at one point or another. You may be suspicious of how a certain restaurant handles its food, or you may be spectacularly impressed by their cleanliness. Whether a company hires a cleaning service or does it themselves, it can be a complicated process and must meet state regulations. Included here are a few things to know about commercial kitchen cleaning.
Facility and Surface Cleaning
In any commercial food prep area, there will be state regulations for sanitation measures. These rules will include requirements for the frequency of surface cleaning, as well as equipment cleaning. Any equipment handling raw food is not allowed to touch or cross-contaminate with other cooked foods.
As the restaurant prepares your food, you may be concerned about the safety and storage of it. All commercial kitchens are required to have hygienic food storage spaces and regularly sanitized refrigerators. In most commercial kitchens, employees are forbidden from touching ready-to-eat foods with their bare hands, to prevent contamination or spread of disease and illness.
In any kitchen that handles food preparation, a three-compartment sink is of utmost importance. The three-compartments are typically used for washing, rinsing, and sanitation. Any dishes that are placed on drainboards or dish racks around the sink must drain a certain direction to prevent cross-contamination. It is important that all food items are cleaned in the appropriate order to maintain hygienic standards.
In most commercial kitchens, rubber non-slip mats are required for both safety and foot comfort. Unfortunately, a great deal of food can become lodged among these mats, allowing the kitchen floor to become a breeding ground for bacteria and infection. For this reason, floors and mats must be cleaned a minimum of once a week, if not nightly in some areas.
The best practice for cleaning mats is to use high-pressure hot water or steam to remove all particles and food remnants before washing them with a sanitation solution. Floors should also be cleaned with a sanitizing solution, typically also with hot water. Removing food particles and bacteria from the ground up will ensure your restaurant stays healthy and clean.
As mentioned above, there should be no contamination between raw and cooked foods on equipment. Most regulations require a separate machine for each, even if you were cleaning your equipment between uses. In most instances, your equipment will need to be sanitized immediately before use and following use. Never allow food items to sit out in overly warm temperatures and develop bacteria (e.g. deli meats and cheeses).