With the increasing visibility and public awareness of the National Food Hygiene Rating Scheme and frequent headlines in the press shouting about the food hygiene scores, both good and bad, of businesses around the UK, the focus on cleanliness in food establishments has never been greater.
The rating scheme which, according to the Food Standards Agency (FSA), helps consumers choose where to eat out by giving them information about the hygiene standards in restaurants and takeaways (as well as food shops) means licensees cannot afford to be complacent when it comes to cleanliness in their pubs. Heather Beattie, brand manager for Jantex, a range of cleaning products supplied by Nisbets, believes good presentation is as important as the food and customer service that an outlet provides.
“A lack of cleanliness is often associated with a lack of care in other areas, such as quality of food, food safety, and overall hygiene, so any negative impressions may impact significantly on how a customer perceives your business,” she says.
What an inspector will be looking for...
All businesses that make or prepare food will be subject to visits from their local authority’s food hygiene enforcement officers, either routinely or in response to a complaint, to make sure they are following food hygiene laws, primarily Regulation (EC) No. 852/2004 on the hygiene of foodstuffs and The Food Hygiene (England) Regulations 2006 (as amended)(and equivalent regulations in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland), which set out the basic hygiene requirements for all aspects of a business, from the premises and facilities to the personal hygiene of its staff.
A Safer Food, Better Business food safety management pack has been developed by the FSA to advise small catering businesses how to put in place food safety management procedures, which must be based on the principles of HACCP (hazard, analysis and critical control point) regulations. In practice, this means procedures must be in place to manage food safety hazards in the business. These procedures must be written down, updated as needed and records kept.
Problem areas for publicans can include: glassware, furniture, colour coding and training.
According to Nisbets’ Beattie, poor hygiene routines will result in a build-up of residues on glassware causing problems such as flat drinks, lack of head retention on beers, drink contamination by unwanted flavours and toxins that could pose a health risk to customers.
“Whatever method of washing you use, whether glass washer, by hand or using a brush machine, make sure you use a detergent that has been formulated for glassware and don’t wash glasses with other items such as cutlery or crockery” she advises.
“A glass renovator should also be used periodically, to remove residue build-ups, and glasses should be allowed to air dry.”
Sticky pub tables and bars are often the result of a build-up in residue caused by the use of a basic sanitizer, best used in a commercial kitchen environment rather than on front-of-house furniture and wood, according to furniture supplier Pubstuff Ltd that also supplies a range of cleaning and sanitizer products.
The company advises licensees to avoid sanitizers that contain ION 5, a chemical agent which actively destroys varnished finishes resulting in damage ranging from a ‘white bloom’ to flaking and sticky varnish.
To address this problem, the supplier has developed its own range of cleaning and sanitizer products — the Pubstuff Surface Cleaner and Sanitiser range, for surfaces with a polyurethane finish.
“Effective for staff training, as well as demonstrating due diligence, colour coding is a simple and effective way to ensure good hygiene and prevent cleaning products being mixed up” explains Beattie.
The company’s Jantex range offers a choice of colour-coded products — from colour-coded handles, mop heads and mop buckets through to a selection of brushes and cleaning cloths, as well as a collection of 750ml plastic bottles, with colour-coded heads, that make identification easy, ensuring that the correct products are always used.
Colour coding can also minimise the risk of cross contamination and can be effective in controlling the freshness of food. In addition, Nisbets offers a selection of colour-coded labels to help with stock rotation. The Vogue range of colour-coded, days-of-the-week labels control food wastage and ensure stored food is dated effectively.
Available in removable or disposable options, the range also offers colour-coded labels with extremely strong adhesive that can withstand freezing and low temperatures or that are dissolvable within 30 seconds.
With the responsibility for staff hygiene training resting firmly on the shoulders of employers, Tork, a global brand of tissue manufacturer SCA, offers two hygiene training packs to help chefs educate their staff on important aspects of food hygiene.
The packs, which are downloadable free from the Tork website (www. tork.co.uk/FoodserviceHygiene), cover hand hygiene and food contact surface cleaning. Each pack provides a clear, comprehensive and easy-touse training session plan including all the necessary information, a step-by- step guide on how to present and explain it and a quick quiz to reinforce the learning. There is also a certificate that can be gained and presented to staff on successful completion of the course.
To help trainers, Tork has also produced two short videos highlighting the key points in each of the training modules. These are also available for free download in a YouTube format.
The Marlborough Tavern, Bath
Owned by the Bath Pub Company, the pub, along with sister sites the Chequers and the Hare & Hounds, has a four-star food hygiene rating. Operations manager for the company, Darren Hales, says: “We instil a culture of ‘good is good, but excellent is better’ and state in our service charter that ‘we’re obsessed with keeping our pubs spotless’. We don’t accept being average in any area, whether it be our food, the service, or the cleanliness of the surroundings.
“Once you have this attitude instilled in your team, from manager down to the kitchen porters, the rest is relatively easy.
“To ensure nothing is missed, we use simple checklists in each pub and then, to monitor standards, I conduct a monthly random inspection. It’s important all sta ff are trained in the basics to begin with, which helps them understand why certain things are done as they are. We have an external company run a basic food hygiene course every six months, so that we can ensure everyone (including front-of house and part-time staff) can gain this basic qualification.”