Keeping a Clean Kitchen
As COVID-19 continues to spread and cleanliness becomes more important than ever—and at the forefront of more people’s minds than ever—maintaining a clean work environment in the foodservice industry ensures that no harmful germs get transmitted as you prepare and deliver customers’ orders.
Even though the pandemic has resulted in widespread shelter-in-place and isolation mandates, thus causing a massive shutdown of public gatherings such as dine-in restaurants, anyone who works with food should still beware of spreading germs throughout the kitchen as well as to delivery workers who then come face-to-face with customers.
practice effective cleaning
Even when we aren’t in the middle of a global pandemic, the government has measures for maintaining clean workstations that all restaurants have to follow. With the ever-present threat and fear of COVID-19, however, such safety protocols need more regulation and attention than usual. Kitchen staff should clean their workspace often, thoroughly and in line with federal and state regulations for the wellbeing of everyone around them, both inside the kitchen and at home too. How can you make sure your restaurant stays properly clean?
- Sanitize objects that people touch frequently.
Despite social distancing measures and best efforts to follow safety procedures, staff can’t avoid using certain communal objects like doorknobs, touchscreen devices, counter tops and handles. Clean these items more often than usual.
Scrape grills and griddles between uses. Clean big messes as soon as possible. Staff should also sanitize surfaces between meal prep, even if they didn’t touch it directly; airborne pathogens can linger on objects. Certain foods—meat, for example—may also drip and contaminate the next ingredient to touch that counter. Sanitize everything before preparing a new ingredient or before a new person takes over that station.
- Practice proper hand washing techniques.
Wash your hands frequently and thoroughly, especially after coming in contact with somebody else. Remember, proper technique involves washing for twenty seconds, making sure to even get underneath your nails. If staff seems to struggle with complying with this rule, you can post signs around the washing stations reminding them of how long they should clean or giving them tips and tricks to keep time, such as singing Happy Birthday twice or other popular verses.
- Give everyone their own equipment when possible.
This can’t apply to major necessities such as refrigerators or pots and pans, but you can remove smaller items from the kitchen to prevent multiple people’s touch. For example, investing in dish gloves, towels, rags and similar items for each staff member will prevent them from using each other’s.
In some cases, staff can’t help sharing. For pots, utensils and items like that, clean them after every use to keep it safe for the next person who touches it.
- Empty and sanitize trays, bottles and ice wells after every shift.
- Clean equipment after every shift.
Cutting boards, cutlery, all containers and bowls should get cleaned at the end of each day, even if you also clean between uses. Remember to filter the fryer oil daily as well and replace it weekly.
These practices are the best way to avoid cross-contamination. Even after this pandemic ends, consider keeping some of these regulations in place because they reduce the risk of any food borne illnesses and allergens that might threaten someone’s well being.
- Clean the floors after every shift. Move mats out of the way to sanitize everywhere properly.
- Clean behind and under hard-to-reach areas every week.
Staff probably don’t clean in certain places, such as behind the fridge or under the stove, after each shift. Once a week, move large equipment and probably sanitize the area. You can also designate this time to emptying inventory, storage and the walk-in freezer so staff can clean the shelves and containers. Also take this time to throw out products that have gone bad before putting it back on the shelves, as this will save you time later.
- Use the correct cleaning solutions.
One size doesn’t fit all. Only use bleach where safe and applicable; otherwise, clean glass, steel and other surfaces with the correct, tested solutions for best results and to avoid ruining the surface or endangering anyone.
- Check, clean and replace pest traps daily.
- Clean washing stations at the end of each shift.
Some people might think that sinks don’t need cleaning, but they don’t get thoroughly washed during use. Properly sanitize washing stations at the end of each day like you would with any other area or equipment.
- Use a cleaning checklist.
This will help make sure all of the necessary tasks get done on time. You can also regulate further by setting jobs for a specific time, for example cleaning pest traps at 10a.m. every day or emptying and sanitizing storage Fridays at 5p.m. Schedules keep everyone on track and make sure these essential tasks really happen.
- Pay attention to the small details.
Don’t let all this effort go to waste; don’t overlook the little things. Remember to wipe down the knobs on the stove. Switch out rags and towels more often than usual for cleaning. Where possible, use disposable products for the time being. Remember to empty the trash and recycling more often, and take bags out to the dumpster immediately.
Don’t worry yourself sick about cleanliness, but make sure that you do a thorough job and handle the small details too, or else your major efforts could go to waste.
stay Sanitary during the workday
- Prioritize cleanliness.
Right now more than ever, staying safe and healthy is more important than convenience or profit. If extra sanitation measures slow productivity, then hire an extra person on staff during the day to handle that. Don’t cut corners when it comes to health.
- Wear gloves at all times.
- Wrap and date everything in airtight containers.
- Provide paid sick leave.
Now more than ever, people worry about joining the steadily climbing unemployment rate and oncoming economic troubles. With the future so uncertain, government checks still not in anyone’s bank accounts and people desperate to prepare for the worst, your workers need to know that they have a safety net in place if they start to feel the telltale signs of illness.
Many low-wage workers admit that they’ve come to work sick, or would do so, because they barely make enough to scrape by. They simply can’t afford unpaid time off. This means an untold number of people have spread disease because they really have no other option. Considering the severity of COVID-19 and how hard we’ve worked so far to “flatten the curve,” guaranteeing your workers sick leave while they get tested for COVID-19, wait out the mandatory incubation period or just need to go home with a regular grade fever will prevent the virus from spreading any further and ensure that our efforts at mass isolation aren’t in vain.
Funds may be tight, but sick leave isn’t the place to hold back.
practice cleanliness every day
Even after this pandemic ends, prevent food borne illnesses and the spread of disease by normalizing proper sanitation procedures. Clean equipment and wash hands often and well. These practices should guide you as the best way to keep everyone, staff and customer alike, safe and healthy so that you can keep creating an incredible dining experience together. That doesn’t end when quarantine does.
To best ensure you comply with curbing the spread of disease, check the health department and CDC guidelines. Together we can keep each other safe and healthy—through COVID-19 and beyond.
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