The careful use of cleaning materials is an important area that will help prevent contamination and any subsequent food poisoning. How many times have you seen celebrity chefs working in a kitchen with a towel hung around their waist that they seem to use for each and every little task?
Cleaning materials including towels, cloths, sponges, scourers and brushes are magnets for micro-organisms. Bacteria will rapidly multiply in damp or moist cleaning cloths at room temperature so they need to be replenished at regular periods throughout the day and as soon as they appear dirty. Food businesses will therefore need a plentiful supply of clean cleaning materials. Make sure you always have at least a week’s supply of cloths and cleaning products so that they may be replenished before they run out.
Re-useable cloths will need to be washed after you have finished using them. It is best to place them in a hot wash cycle in the washing machine to remove food debris and kill any bacteria. After washing they need to be dried quickly and thoroughly to prevent them sitting around damp at room temperature. Professional laundry services are the easiest option for busy catering establishments.
Other Types of Cleaning Materials
Single use cloths and disposable paper towels (e.g. blue roll) are the best option for routine cleaning tasks and for wiping down surfaces after sanitising; so it is best to use these wherever and whenever you can. Although, sometimes, you need something a little hard wearing like a scourer or brush. Whenever you use scourers or brushes it is best to ensure that food equipment is washed or disinfected afterwards e.g. via a mechanical dishwasher. Remember that these too can cause physical contamination and can deteriorate quickly; leaving shards or bristles on equipment.
Cloths and equipment used for tasks where they are more likely to come into contact with harmful micro-organisms, for example those used in w/c’s, should be prohibited from use in food rooms. Colour coding your equipment helps prevent incorrect use and separate out different materials for different tasks. Similarly, cloths used for cleaning areas that have come into contact with raw meat and poultry should be removed after use. In such instances, single use or disposable paper towels used should be used instead.