The consequences of poor hygiene and cleanliness in restaurants or other businesses in the foodservice industry can be devastating. Running a restaurant is not easy. There are many responsibilities the owners or operators must deal with. The hours are long, the customers are demanding, and there are numerous demands on those involved. Of all the pressures on the restaurant owner, two factors are critically important: the cleanliness and hygiene of the establishment. This is where a professional janitorial company can be a huge asset.
All staff members have a huge responsibility and food safety involves many aspects. Hygienic cleanliness, however, tops the list. While you have specialized staff to wait on tables, prepare and cook the food, and clean the dishes, you should also have specialists to guarantee the establishment is always perfectly cleaned and sanitized. You need the services of a professional cleaning company.
The risks of not doing this are too great. Failure to ensure correct sanitation and cleanliness could result in a serious risk to patrons. Pathogens present in the food can lead to serious illness, specifically food poisoning. This can result in serious consequences, sometimes requiring hospitalization and, in severe cases, death. A professional cleaning company cannot prevent all pathogens but it can guarantee the area is perfectly cleaned and sanitized to the highest standards.
The most common food poisoning pathogens are:
- E. coli
- Staphylococcus aureus
- Staphylococcal enteritis
As a foodservice operator, you have a moral, ethical, and legal responsibility to ensure you don’t cause harm to your customers or your staff. In addition, if your establishment is found to be the cause of foodborne illness, it could have several other devastating effects.
First, health inspectors could close you down temporarily, which will result in a loss of income. Failure to rectify the problem could cause further shutdowns or even the permanent closure of the business.
The other big factor is public opinion. There are several factors. First, the slightest indication of dirt or any unhygienic practice will be noticed by patrons and immediately put them off.
Many will simply leave immediately; others will never return. The last thing a diner wants to see in a restaurant is a dirty area, with dust, spills or anything unclean. Many food outlets have a visible food preparation area. This makes the situation even more serious. Competition is fierce, and the economy is tight. People will vote with their feet and wallets if they detect any indication of imperfection. They have a low tolerance.
Next, is how quickly the news would spread if your establishment is the cause of foodborne illness. While it is often difficult for the average person to be 100 percent sure it came from your restaurant, this doesn’t stop him or her from spreading the word. In the past, marketers always said customers with a poor experience told roughly 16 people about it. These statistics are now out of date because of the Internet and social media. A person who observed any dirt or unhygienic situation in a food outlet, or worse still, picked up a foodborne illness, could post to social media and reach thousands, if not millions, of people in a very short time. There are also forums and sites that name and shame any food outlet for even the most minor health, cleanliness or hygiene infringements. You simply cannot afford this negative publicity.
Such negative publicity can be devastating for a restaurant already dealing with high rents, rising input costs, labor costs, and massive competition. Some establishments have suffered major financial setbacks as a result and some have closed their doors.
While a professional cleaning company will ensure the cleanliness and general hygiene of the area, food safety and hygiene encompasses many factors. These are present at different stages from your stock to where and how you store food. It also means ensuring temperatures are correct and the food is dated and labeled. These are the responsibility of staff and managers and always need to be strictly followed. Cleanliness and hygiene, however, should be left to a professional cleaning company. It has the training, skills, and experience to do this correctly. Then, the food services staff can take care of their specific responsibilities.
You want to work with a cleaning and janitorial services company that knows the foodservice industry. The company’s employees are specially trained in what is required from a legal and regulatory perspective, as well as understand good cleaning practices. Cleaning a food services establishment is not like office cleaning or general janitorial cleaning services. It requires specialized skills, cleaning materials, equipment, and experience. Staff members must be well- trained in best practices in janitorial services for food services establishments and must be correctly supervised to ensure there is no compromise on the quality of their work.
Areas of Concern
Obviously, the kitchen is the main area of concern. The floors, walls, ceilings, and preparation areas must be perfectly cleaned and correctly sanitized. Special attention must be paid to areas, such as gaskets, extractor fans, fan guards, vents, shelving, and door handles. Fridges and freezers are also important and need to be spotless and germ-free inside and out. This includes all trays, shelves, and seals.
Other areas that need special attention is the garbage disposal area. In a busy restaurant, it is difficult to maintain this area. But, from a hygiene standard, it is essential and is one of the areas health inspectors will look at. All cans or dumpsters must have lids on them. The cans must be cleaned regularly and the area around them needs to always be kept clean and sanitized.
Restrooms and toilets are also critical. Getting restaurant staff to do these jobs seldom leads to perfection. This is something best left to a professional cleaning company. An excellent meal with great service could be ruined immediately if a patron went into a dirty restroom that smelled unpleasant.
Finally, the front of the house must be spotless. This is what patrons will see. The slightest mess left by an earlier customer or a spill by a waiter can be very off-putting. The health inspectors will come in with a checklist, so it’s a good idea for the restaurant and the cleaning and janitorial services company to do the same. There are regular cleanups that need to occur during operating hours, as well as daily, weekly, monthly, and quarterly cleaning tasks to be performed. These need to be clearly stipulated, signed off when done, and double-checked by a supervisor.
If you want to keep your customers happy and healthy, keep them coming back, guarantee you have no health issues and keep the cash register ringing, a professional cleaning company is critical to the health and future of your establishment.
Speak to the local experts in cleaning for foodservice facilities at iNX. We have the necessary experience and knowledge to take care of this aspect of your business.