Health and Safety responsibilities for publicans

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Related tags: Food safety, Hygiene

Food safety continues to figure high on a licensees list of responsibilities. Recurrent food scares have not only brought a tough response from the...

Food safety continues to figure high on a licensees list of responsibilities.

Recurrent food scares have not only brought a tough response from the authorities, with the government setting up the Food Standards Agency and Envionmental Health Officers (EHO) under orders to increase their hit rate, but also a higher awareness of the dangers among ordinary pub customers.

A survey by the Consumers' Association has shown that 40 per cent of people identify caterers as a potential source of food poison - only four percentage points behind abbatoirs.

The research also revealed there is widespread support from the public for the mandatory licensing and inspection of all premises serving food. Two-thirds believed there should be a local authority licence and a similar number want to see annual inspections.

There was also a strong call for mandatory training to a national standard for anyone handling food.

However the government of the day chooses to act, publicans should take from these figures the message that, if there is any suspicion surrounding cleanliness and hygiene in the business, customers will vote with their feet.

Don't think either that this only means the kitchen. A visiting EHO will scrutinise all the public areas as well, and your customers, too, will imagine that a grubby bar or smelly toilets gives a clue about the state of the food preparation areas.

The demand for quicker, better and more cost-effective cleaning solutions has led to the growth in events such as next month's Cleaning Show. It will feature more than 200 exhibitors, many of them taking the opportunity to target pubs and other caterers.

According to the organisers "hundreds of innovations are set to be revealed, giving the lie to the low-tech image.

"Many of the new products respond to legislative and regulatory pressures. In the age of e-coli, listeria and hygiene scares, the impetus of the cleaning industry is not simply to go through the motions of cleaning but to get to the heart of problems and find the most effective, lasting solutions."

For pubs, there are various products on show which aim to combat the effects of smoke, not just by clearing it from the air (see page 25) but by cleaning nicotine-stained walls and ceilings, removing marks on furnitute and odours in carpets and upholstery.

Ideas for behind the bar range from glass-washers to skin cleansers to insect control.

Stockport-based brewer Frederic Robinson has completed an exhaustive test of glass-washers. It installed different models in different pubs over a period of five weeks during which they were tested them several times for bacterial levels, water dispersion and their ability to dry glasses.

The glasses themselves were tested for bacteria both inside and outside the lip and assessed for head-retention ability for both ale and lager.

Although of the major manfacturers' machines had acceptable bacteria levels, Nelson's was judged the best.

Inevitably, however, it is the kitchen that gets most attention at the show.

Preventing cross-contamination is key to providing a safe environment to prepare food bringing colour-coded equipment, food-safe cleaning chemicals, de-humidifiers and dry steam cleaners.

There is even a solar-powered touch-free towel dispenser for staff who simply wave a hand in front of a sensor for a paper towel to automatically pop out in less than a second.

"Hands are one of the principle agents in transferring harmful bacteria to food and the system helps prevent cross contamination," said Paul Halliwell, sales director for the Bay West Wave'nDry.

The quality of the towel itself can also be important. SCA Hygiene Products' Andrew Blyth points out "damp hands provide a breeding ground for bacteria" claiming that his new Tork Comfort towel is so soft that "it actually encourages people to dry their hands thoroughly".

Where elbow-grease and spit and polish once reigned, new techniques have been developed, some quite surprising.

For instance, "manufacturers around the world are harnessing the incredible cleaning power of the orange" says the Florida Chemical Co. Apparently, orange peels left over from juicing provide stuff called orange terpenes which can be used as a de-greaser.

Even alcohol proves to have other uses in a pub. Shiloh Healthcare's Primetex range of wipes are impregnated with 70 per cent alcohol which instantly kills a wide range of micro-organisms protecting against bacteria and bugs like e-coli and listeria on food preparation surfaces and equipment.

Nelson - 020 8993 6198Bay West - 01484 854460SCA Hygiene - 01582 677400Florida Chemical Co - www.floridachemical.comShiloh Healthcare - 0161 624 5641

Related topics: Licensing law

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