Food Safety | October 2010 | By Jeff Anderson

Food Sanitation Done Right

By keeping staff responsible for cleanliness and sanitation, operators can avoid costly food safety mistakes.

Food safety is always a prime consideration when it comes to protecting foodservice patrons and staff. However, putting an effective sanitation program in place requires more than simply washing the dishes and mopping the floor. Implementing a thorough food safety program must start with a clear understanding of the risk factors and the level of cleanliness that is needed to prevent contamination of food, equipment, and wares. 

To create a hygienic environment, you must first identify the various types of soil and surfaces in your establishment so you can determine the proper cleaning and sanitizing products to use, and how often cleaning must be done to achieve the desired results. Of course, any sanitation program is only as good as the people who execute it, which means food safety plans should be simple and easy to execute by frontline food employees.

Develop a Cleaning Plan

One of the best ways to put a highly effective sanitation plan together is by working with your sanitation vendors to identify the potential contamination risks within your facility. Once the risks have been identified, you will be in a position to create a master cleaning schedule or plan that should have the goal of going beyond the conventional “clean to the sight and touch” level of cleanliness. Such a plan should outline what should be cleaned, how it should be cleaned, when to clean, and who should do the cleaning.

Your plan should let frontline workers know exactly which cleaning products are to be used to remove the various soil types found on the different surfaces in your facility. Using the right cleaning products and tools is imperative when it comes to achieving food safety goals. The “Cleaning in a Down Economy” survey conducted by Procter & Gamble Professional in December 2009 revealed that nearly a quarter of cleaning professionals felt “products that get the job done right the first time” are most helpful in performing their duties.

Training is Key to Food Safety

Education and training are truly the keys to success for any sanitation program. The survey revealed that 68 percent of cleaning professionals found the biggest hurdle in keeping employees from performing their best was a lack of effective training. A good training program should provide employees with a clear understanding of why thorough cleaning is important, and how to ensure their efforts meet the most rigorous of cleanliness standards. 

Once again, sanitation vendors can be a valuable partner in helping to develop effective training goals and programs. When creating a training plan, it is important to take into consideration the different learning styles of employees. To ensure that workers understand the educational materials, they should be distributed in the native language of the workers. The use of posters, videos, and hands-on demonstrations can also be very effective in teaching safety compliance, disinfection and germ elimination, and the proper use and handling of cleaning products. 

You will be in a position to create a master cleaning schedule that should have the goal of going beyond the conventional “clean to the sight and touch” level of cleanliness.

Training should also emphasize which cleaning products must be left on surfaces for a specified length of time to achieve disinfection and which products should be rinsed off of surfaces to meet cleanliness standards. Periodic refresher training is useful for reinforcing good practices and procedures. 

Take an End-to-End Approach to Cleaning and Sanitation 

Food safety requires an end-to-end cleaning and sanitation regimen that is continually monitored, and where constant feedback is provided to achieve the overall goals of the program. By evaluating your facility and equipment needs, with an eye towards safety and ease of cleaning, and selecting the most effective sanitizing and disinfecting products—such as multipurpose cleaners that work across a wide range of soils and task areas—you can have a dramatic impact on food safety, as well as productivity. 

Jeff Anderson is a Food Safety and Sanitation Consultant for Procter & Gamble Professional, the away-from-home division of Procter & Gamble.