According to estimates from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 48 million Americans contract a foodborne illness annually. While some incidents start with improper food preparation at home, foodborne illness can also occur in foodservice settings, especially if best practices are compromised. In most cases, these preventable occurrences lead to lost business, reputational damage and even lawsuits.
A strategic approach to cleaning supports food safety and can help minimize the risks that lead to foodborne illness cases and outbreaks. It’s important that facilities take a closer look at their maintenance and training programs, including staff training, cleaning chemicals, tools and food handling procedures to avoid lapses in food safety.
Fears about Foodborne Illness
Foodborne illnesses cost the economy more than $15.6 billion annually and a single outbreak can cost a restaurant anywhere from $6,000 to over $2 million. Norovirus is the cause of more than half of foodborne outbreaks in the United States, commonly known as food poisoning.
By focusing on best practices, foodborne outbreaks can be prevented or at least minimized. Causal factors vary from contaminated ingredients, food storage temperatures or improper food preparation. These are just some reasons why it is critical for every foodservice establishment’s training program to focus on best practices in order to promote a consistent food safety and handling culture with staff.
Best Practices for Outbreak Prevention
Consider the following recommendations when cleaning to prevent conditions for foodborne illness:
- Assign zone colors for designated areas. Color coding is an effective means to minimize cross-contamination as well as promote walkway safety. Designate cleaning areas using floor tools by color; one mop and bucket for kitchen areas, dining and restrooms. Color-coded mop handles, buckets and brushes can help remind staff to remember which set is assigned in each designated space. In addition, consider using a dual cavity mop bucket to prevent the redeposit of soils back onto floors.
- Consider environmental impact. Many restaurant brands are taking steps to be more sustainable by reducing packaging, recycling more and installing Energy Star-certified equipment. Another area of opportunity is a restaurant’s cleaning program. Green Seal® certified mops made from recycled textiles and brushes manufactured from recycled plastic bottles and caps offer an easy way to green the process of cleaning. Look for high-quality construction and durability to further reduce landfill waste.
- Know which chemicals to use. When cleaning restrooms, it’s best to clean first and disinfect and sanitize high-touch areas. In both the kitchen and dining areas, use an EPA-rated sanitizer that will reduce microorganisms to a safe level. By following use dilution directions, sanitizers are safe for use on food contact surfaces like counters, meat slicers and sinks as well as dining room table tops and chairs.
- Address floors, drains and grout. Biofilms, colonies of potentially harmful microorganisms, can build up in places like drains and grout, especially in hot and moist kitchen environments. Be sure to frequently clean and sanitize these areas. Select durable and ergonomic brushes and scrubbers to expedite soil removal, and replace them when visible wear is apparent. Wash and store cleaning tools to allow for drying.
*Conduct ongoing training. Best practices won’t be successful in the absence of training and comprehension by restaurant staff. Employees should understand cleaning tasks by their assigned workstation and how to perform them correctly. It’s also important to stress why these responsibilities are essential to the business operation. Reinforce employee training frequently to account for high turnover and as well as reward good behavior as a means to uphold the restaurant’s cleanliness standards.
Achieving Food Safety Success
Every restaurant aims to make the customer experience enjoyable and ensure a higher probability of repeat patronage. Given that 2020 was a historically tough year for restaurants, many are thinking of ways they can restore consumer confidence and maintain cleanliness. By following best practices, restaurants are better prepared to prevent viral outbreaks while supporting their sustainability goals, their brand reputation and the bottom line.
Incorporate sustainable cleaning tools from ABCO Cleaning Products as part of your facility’s best practices protocols. Learn more at www.abcoproducts.com or contact us at (888) 694-2226 today.