Bacteria that cause foodborne illnesses, such as E. coli, frequently grow due to lack of cleanliness, often in ways most people don't think about. Conscientious restaurant managers spend time every day making sure cleaning procedures are being followed, but they often pass over some of the most commonly touched items in the building. Here are some commercial cleaning tips for five of the most commonly handled items in a restaurant, from both kitchen workers and the customers themselves. They're not normally considered particularly dirty, but they're each handled dozens of times a day.
- The back-of-the-house phone: Especially common in restaurants with carry-out or delivery service, these phones can be handled dozens or hundreds of times a day on a busy weekend. Workers don't normally wash their hands before using the telephone, and many of them don't think to wash them when they're done. The result is an object that's been handled by people who may have bacteria on their hands, which they can spread to the entire staff in a short amount of time. Wipe down the entire phone receiver every few hours with sanitary wipes like KaiWipes or a foldable microfiber towel system like SmartTowel.
- Menus: How many customers use the restroom, then come out and pick up their menu? You'd like to think they all washed their hands, but the truth is that you just can't know. Adults, children, and even small infants put their hands on these items that are normally passed around, so bacteria can spread from one table to another without ever interacting with your kitchen staff. Make a habit of cleaning every laminated menu each time it comes back to the hostess stand.
- Ketchup bottles: Many restaurants keep ketchup bottles, hot sauce bottles, spice shakers, and other condiments on the table for the convenience of their customers. While it's a good practice that makes the guests feel better about their meal, it's also a touch point that very few people consider cleaning on a regular basis. Change your busing procedures to include wiping all condiment bottles when cleaning tables between customers.
- Can openers: Health department inspectors across the country have used the can opener as an example of something that should be cleaned daily, so much so that, according to the NYC Department of Health, it's a standard points deduction that managers look for first. While the blade and mechanism are often scrubbed between uses, the handles themselves might not be. Instead of wiping down the blade with a clean rag, pull the entire arm from the table and soak it in a cleaning solution on a daily basis.
- Fruit skins: Most everyone has heard about the nightmare of the cantaloupe crop that the CDC notes spread disease over a large part of the country, but what they don't discuss is that it could have been completely prevented. It may seem odd to wash fruit skins when the inside is what your customers will eat, but anything on the outside surface of a fruit will get pushed inside by the action of a knife cutting into it. Make a simple cleaning solution, soak fruit in it for 10 minutes, then rinse, drain, and store as usual.
For every one of these commercial cleaning tips, there are dozens of other small areas that should be cleaned each day to run a healthy restaurant. The point is to be aware of your environment and to look for small items that can make a big impact on your daily routines.
To learn more about restaurant cleaning, click here..