MY STORY: Redefining ‘clean’ for hotels – Part 2 (final)

by Egi Gaisie

‘What a coincidence’, you might say. World Food Safety Day was observed last week, on 7th June! The blog has been featuring articles on cleanliness, which in the food and beverage industry translates into food safety and sanitation!

If you missed the day, do watch this clip on WORLD FOOD SAFETY DAY – 7 June 2022 – Theme

In relating cleanliness to food and food environments, the focus has been on food safety. All food handlers are responsible in ensuring wholesome food for the general public.

My story continues, shifting my attention from food safety to food sanitation. What is the difference?

Food safety involves practices performed to prevent the occurrence of foodborne illnesses, whereas food sanitation is the cleanliness and maintenance of good and safe conditions of equipment, tools and general foodservice facilities. Food sanitation falls under food safety.

Not many people are privy to back-of-house restaurants or food and beverage service operations (kitchen operations). In fact, the kitchen is a ‘no go area’ even for non-food and beverage personnel who work in the industry. There is a set of related tasks which can hardly be accomplished effectively without the continuous supply of clean water. Furthermore, most facilities are used to manual dish washing using a 2-compartment or double bowl sink instead of a 3-compartment or triple bowl sink, and sometimes put into jeopardy the practice of this principle: WASH CLEAN, RINSE CLEAR and SANITIZE SAFELY!

The last principle on food safety and sanitation is WATCH OUT FOR WARNINGS.

It was a few hours past mid-day. The weather was hot. It was a week day. Traffic was building up. The car developed a problem. Some good Samaritans pushed it to a fuel filling station close by. Realizing the mechanic was going to be taking much longer than I expected, I walked to a nearby restaurant. While seated, I struggled with my thoughts… ‘At least buy a drink and a pie’ (though I wasn’t hungry).

Food service personnel were not in sight. I was hoping one would soon notice the lone customer and approach her. Well, I was almost approached; but by a rat which majestically ‘strolled’ from one end of the restaurant from behind the enclosed glass pastry display case, across the restaurant floor to another end of the restaurant. Alarmed, glued to my seat and too surprised to react, I watched one of the three (flies, cockroaches and rodents) biggest pest threats ‘invading’ a restaurant in broad day light!

This reminded me of my encounters with invasive mice in a restaurant I briefly worked in outside this country. Whenever the kitchen was opened for us to start the day’s preparations, we saw mice playing on the stoves. I describe them as DARING since you never knew when one would jump at you while cooking!

Rats often carry fleas, mites and ticks as well as spread viruses and bacteria such as E.coli. They may contaminate food and food packages with urine, droppings and fur. You may never see a mouse or rat unless an infestation is severe, but they leave ‘telltale signs’ of their presence:

  • Droppings around food packages, in drawers or cupboards, and under the sink.
  • Nesting material such as shredded paper, fabric, or dried plant matter.
  • Signs of chewing on food packaging.
  • Holes chewed through walls and floors that create entry points into the facility.
  • Stale smells coming from hidden areas.

These justify the principle: WATCH OUT FOR WARNINGS.

Poor handling of kitchen waste and left over foods; challenges we all face, are no excuse to allow food and beverage facilities to become breeding grounds for pests! I am also aware that personnel get tired after big functions which close rather late and they don’t see the need to clean up immediately; dirty plates, pots and dishes are left unwashed overnight, attracting pests.

We all have our responsibilities in ensuring food safety! Food safety and sanitation principles:

  • Food safety starts with you
  • Professionals prevent contamination
  • Store smart
  • Tend to time and temperature
  • Wash clean, Rinse clear, Sanitize safely
  • Watch out for warnings.

Solution to last week’s riddle

a.         The rabbit became rich when he found 24 of what? (CARROTS-CARATS)

b.         What can be opened but cannot be closed? (EGG)

c.         The leaves are on the fruit, the fruit on the leaves. What is it? (PINEAPPLE)

Replacing a riddle with the slogan for World Food Safety Day.

“Food safety is everyone’s business”.

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