Correct, effective cleaning & sanitizing are critical in any food services or production facility. Germs and bacteria could easily grow and spread, possibly contaminating food, if the highest cleaning and janitorial services are not maintained.
The risk of foodborne illness because of poor cleaning and ineffective sterilization is a risk you cannot take. It could result in major losses for your business and might even cause the business to fail altogether.
The safest way to ensure all areas are cleaned and sanitized to the requirements is to work with a professional cleaning company that works according to a detailed cleaning schedule.
This can be called a scope of work or a checklist, but it is essential each aspect of the job is documented and there are details of who will clean what areas, how they will be cleaned, and how often. This plan or schedule will give you something to measure against to see if the commercial janitorial cleaning company is doing what it should be. A professional cleaning company will have the experience in drawing up these schedules and will work with you to create one.
The janitorial company needs to be looked at and evaluated regularly to ensure it is working correctly. In a food-service environment, this will mean not only observation and inspection but also tests. These tests on finished products, floors, surfaces, and machines will confirm if the company is following the correct sanitary requirements. The schedule will ensure that no area is forgotten about or neglected, and all cleaning is done as often as necessary. It will help new employees, shift workers, and relief staff to fit in and clearly understand the process.
You can establish the cleaning schedule by walking through the facility and going through each process. Make note of all surfaces, utensils, machines, etc. that needs to be cleaned and sanitized as you go.
The FDA Food Code
Another way to establish a schedule is to base it on the FDA Food Code regulations. These regulations dictate how often equipment and surfaces need to be cleaned.
The regulations state how frequently food-contact surfaces and nonfood-contact surfaces need to be cleaned and sanitized. It makes sense, if these rules are in place, to develop your schedule around them. A professional cleaning company with experience in the foodservice industry will be familiar with these laws and has worked with cleaning schedules before.
There is no one-size-fits-all approach, and each facility is unique. There might be challenges that are specific to your facility because of design issues or related to the type of food with which you work. Between management of the food service business and the commercial janitorial cleaning company, you need to develop a schedule that works for the environment. This schedule must guarantee optimal cleaning and hygiene standards without disrupting the workflow.
Most food-contact surfaces are used with time/temperature-control-for-safety (TCS) foods that need to be cleaned a minimum of every four hours. These could include knives, graters or chopping boards. This is the time limit that studies have shown to be most effective in controlling the buildup and spread of pathogens when dealing with TCS foods. TCS foods include dairy products, eggs, fish, shellfish, meat, and many vegetables and potatoes products. Apart from every four hours, these surfaces need to be cleaned when changing from one food product to the next. This is to prevent cross-contamination.
It makes sense that surfaces that do not come into direct contact with food do not need to be cleaned as often. They should still, however, form part of the cleaning schedule. According to the FDA Food Code regulations, such surfaces should be cleaned according to manufacturer’s instructions or, if these are not available, they should be cleaned before visible mold or soil is present or a minimum of every 24 hours.
The cleaning and janitorial services should clean and sanitize the floors daily or twice daily, and regular cleaning should be done throughout the day. This will not only improve the hygiene of the facility but will also prevent accidents from slip and falls.
These should be emptied as necessary and the trash correct disposed of. The cans should be sanitized at least once a week or as needed.
All areas and equipment need to form part of the cleaning schedule, including:
- •Dry storage
- •Ice machines
Depending on the contents, volumes, and the type of foods processed, you need to determine the correct intervals for this cleaning. An experienced professional cleaning company will be able to determine the correct schedule.
Apart from the above, other surfaces that need to be cleaned regularly are the walls, ceilings, and light fittings. Other equipment, including electronic equipment and any other items in the facility, also need to form part of the cleaning schedule.
Remember, the schedule is not cast in stone. Once it has been established between the cleaning and janitorial services and facility management, it should be monitored for a while. Make sure everything is being cleaned often enough and nothing is being cleaned too often without needing to be cleaned.
It is also a good idea to inspect and test various surfaces and areas from time to time. This way, you will know if the cleaning and disinfecting are effective and up to standard. The cleaning and janitorial services company should also conduct its own inspections and surface tests.
Once the schedule has been established, it should be communicated to all staff members and should be available for reference. It should be clear what the responsibility of the cleaning and janitorial services company is and what needs to be done by the staff.
When a commercial kitchen or food production facility gets busy, it is easy to forget about certain important items that need to be cleaned. Staff members work in shifts and the janitorial cleaning services company comes in and cleans so it is easy to get confused.
Failure to clean correctly can have devastating effects and it cannot be left to chance. That is why it is essential there are a cleaning procedure and schedule in place and everyone follows them.
For peace of mind that your kitchen is in good hands, give iNX a call. We specialize in this environment and our knowledge and experience will assure you of the highest standards.