Food handlers have a legal obligation to protect food from becoming contaminated with harmful food poisoning bacteria. Cleaning is the process that will keep premises, surfaces, machinery and equipment free from dirt and contamination. Cleaning involves the use of physical energy such as scraping, scrubbing, scouring, brushing, sweeping and wiping. It involves the use of thermal energy such as hot water and steam. It also used chemical energy in the form of detergent, disinfectant, sanitizers and sterilizers.
The purpose of cleaning:
Cleaning protects food from becoming contaminated with harmful bacteria. It protects food from physical and chemical contamination. It reduces the opportunities for harmful food poisoning bacteria to multiply. Cleaning maintains a pleasant and safe environment. It removes waste food particles and foreign matter. It discourages food pests. It creates a favourable impression for customers. Cleaning complies with the law.
The cleaning process:
Even if something looks clean, it could be contaminated with harmful food poisoning bacteria. The correct use of chemical products in the cleaning process will help to ensure that cleaning has been thorough.
The six stages of the cleaning process:
1. Pre-cleaning – this removes loose soiling.
2. Main cleaning – this is a wash with hot water and detergent.
3. Rinsing – this washes away all traces of detergent using clean, hot water.
4. Disinfecting – this ensures that the disinfectant remains in contact for the correct amount of time (i.e. read the manufacturer’s instructions on the container label).
5. Final Rinsing – this washes away all traces of disinfectant using clean, hot water.
6. Drying – items should be left to dry naturally as the use of a drying cloth or tea-towel will help to spread harmful food poisoning bacteria.
Disinfectants must be used after the main cleaning stage. This is because the main cleaning stage does not destroy harmful food poisoning bacteria.
It is necessary to disinfect food contact surfaces such as chopping boards, work surfaces, utensils and equipment (i.e. knives, spoons, tongs) and machinery (i.e. slicers, mixers, mincers) and containers (i.e. bowls, trays, lids). Hand contact surfaces such as door handles (i.e. fridges, freezers, cupboards, drawers). Taps also need disinfecting.
The best policy is to clean as you go. Equipment and areas that are likely to be contaminated with harmful food poisoning bacteria must be cleaned and disinfected frequently throughout the work period. This will involve clearing and cleaning immediately after every task has been completed.
Try to answer these questions yourself:
1. What are the three types of energy used in the cleaning process?
2. When should disinfectants be used in the cleaning process?