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

by Egi Gaisie

Food preparation businesses in the hospitality sector include hotels, restaurants, cafes, bars, chop bars, our traditional restaurants and similar businesses that prepare food for customers to eat on their premises or for takeaway. Whether one is working in a luxury hotel preparing or serving food at the finest and most expensive restaurant, or at a little café handling limited range of foods on its menu, or operating a barbeque stand next door to a hotel, the standard of cleanliness in respect to handling food, also known as food hygiene, is expected to be the same!

Standards of cleanliness in housekeeping vary with different types of accommodation establishments. Hospitals require the highest standards of cleanliness when considering operating theatres, particularly intensive care units. In last week’s post, a clean hotel guest room was ‘redefined’; it must LOOK CLEAN, SMELL CLEAN, FEEL CLEAN and be SANITIZED SAFELY!

Unlike rooms, foods, beverages and drinks are physically consumed. Further, one cannot always determine by looking, if a food is unwholesome! These are what bring ‘the twist’ I hinted at, in the previous post.  

Consider the following foreign newspaper and magazine excerpts:

Fatal Salmonella Outbreak Probed

State officials are interviewing kitchen workers and reviewing health charts at a nursing home in hopes of tracing an outbreak of salmonella that killed five residents and sickened 20 others. -Lansing State Journal

Typhoid Outbreak Feared in Illness

A total of seven people, including two children, have come down with typhoid fever in an outbreak that was related to a (location and name) restaurant. Four of the victims had eaten shrimp salad….Although none of the recent cases been fatal, four have been hospitalized.

-Restaurant Business

Globally, today’s food supply is complex and involves a range of different stages including on-farm production, slaughtering or harvesting, processing, storage, transport and distribution before the food reaches consumers. Maintaining the safety of food in foodservice establishments can be challenging since food safety issues can arise at any stage of the receipt of food commodities, through to their storage, preparation, or during the service of food. Ghana is no exception!

Beware! You may be eating more than food.

Recently the following appeared as a headline, Ghana: FDA Shuts down Restaurant over Food Poison Allegation

Ghana: FDA Shuts (name and location) restaurant Over Food Poisoning.

Pests look for safe havens where they can feed, nest, and breed without being disturbed, and food and beverage operations are one such haven. Once they find their ‘safe refuge’, they grow in numbers to the point where they pose a threat to food safety. Pests enter food service outlets through many points, and once inside, they contaminate food and spread disease-causing organisms.

Most food borne illnesses are however caused by mishandling or improper preparation and/or storage of food by food handlers!

My story: Food hygiene from farm to fork

Food is easily contaminated, making it unwholesome and therefore not safe to eat. Operating any type of food service business is an inherently risky business. Many food service operators are not in control of how food commodities are handled until the food commodities arrive on their premises.

I did run a restaurant, much earlier in my professional life. There were colleague restaurant operators who ventured into the hinterlands and other places to get foodstuffs directly from producers, all towards reducing the cost of food. And they had stories to tell; from fruits being forced to ripe by adding carbide to suppliers adding Sudan IV dye to enhance the redness of palm oil!

Determined to get wholesome foodstuffs for the operations of Best Cuisine, the restaurant, I would get up at dawn to Kantamato, Malam Atta and Makola markets on their respective market days to ‘catch up’ with recommended farmers and food supplier’s loading off their goods from the hinterland and nearby towns and villages. I observed the brisk business engaged in by porters, middle men and market women, most of whom were handling various food commodities as though they had little or no understanding of food sanitation hazards.

I learnt my first lesson: Never assume that all the food commodities you receive are good enough to eat or used for cooking!

To be continued.

Riddle for the week:

Since we are talking about foods try your hand on the following food riddles:

  1. You cut me up, you chop me up, you dice me up and you cry over me. What am I?
  2. What kind of vegetable do people look forward to getting every month?
  3. I am a bell yet you can’t ring me. I sound hot but am not.

Solution to last week’s riddle: While I was going to London I met a men with 7 wives, 7 sacks, 7 kids and 7 cats. How many were going to London? (ONE)

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