It is vital to ensure any equipment used to store or prepare food stuffs – particularly those that will not subsequently be cooked such as fresh items as well as ice and water – is kept clean and hygienic to eliminate any risk of infections. As a general rule, ice making machines and refrigerators should be considered as any other food preparation surface. Regular cleaning with a suitable product and proper hand hygiene will help prevent the introduction and spread of infections and food-borne illnesses.
Cross-contamination is one of the most common ways that an infection can enter the food chain, for example when an employee forgets to wash their hands after a previous task or going to the toilet and then handling uncontaminated items or touching clean surfaces. Another source of cross-contamination can be frequent touch points on equipment used by staff or customers such as buttons and levers or freezer and chiller cabinet door handles.
Kitchen staff should understand the link between hand hygiene and food safety. The majority of food-related illnesses are caused by bacteria: according to the Food Standards Agency, campylobacter causes the most cases – over 250,000 a year – of food poisoning in the UK with E.coli and salmonella also affecting large numbers. Listeria monocytogenes causes the
most food poisoning deaths although the numbers are very small. Around 40% of all food poisoning outbreaks are the result of poor hand hygiene and cross contamination. This is why effective hand-hygiene is probably the single most important aspect of any food safety regime. In short, staff must always wash their hands after going to the toilet, when switching
between handling prepared food and ingredients, or when changing tasks.
Ice Machines: Periodic maintenance of ice machines should include regular cleaning and disinfection. After shutting off the machine and removing any ice present, the machine should be cleaned and with a suitable disinfectant and then flushed thoroughly with clean water before being restarted. Diversey recommends a product such Suma Bac D10. Ice scoops
can be put through a dishwasher regularly to keep them clean and disinfected.
Hand Hygiene: Encouraging more frequent hand washing is not always the simple solution it seems. In food service, staff should wash their hands between tasks, including when switching between handling raw and cooked items. That can mean a lot of washing during a normal day. Conventional soaps can strip natural oils which protect the skin, leading to an increased risk of damage through conditions such as dermatitis. Hand hygiene products therefore need to be effective yet gentle. Modern formulations incorporate highly effective biocidal ingredients as well as emollients to preserve the skin’s natural protective barrier and keep hands soft. They should not include perfumes to avoid tainting food. Diversey offers a
choice of highly effective products and can recommend the best option for any particular setting.
Surface Sanitising: The interior of refrigerators, including shelves and compartments, can be cleaned with a suitable surface sanitiser following the manufacturer’s recommendations. The refrigerator should be switched off and shelves removed during cleaning and disinfection.
Suitable products will generally be fast-acting and will not contain perfumes or other ingredients that could taint food. Diversey recommends a product such as Suma Bac D10 or Suma Quick D4.1.
Freezers: Suma Freeze from Diversey is a highly effective cleaner for commercial freezers that can be used at temperatures down to -25oC without taking the appliance out of commission. There is no need to defrost the freezer and no need to remove the contents which saves time and money in busy food preparation and storage facilities. The unique
formulation of Suma Freeze was developed to eliminate the risk of contamination of foodstuffs. It allows cleaning to take place while the freezer is in use and without removing the contents. Routine cleaning can be carried out more frequently to maintain the best possible standards of hygiene and food safety. Suma Freeze is supplied ready to use and is
simply wiped over the walls, floors and shelves of walk-in freezers. Care should be taken to ensure cleaning product does not come into contact with food stuff.