Kitchen hygiene is a crucial part of preparing nutritious, delicious food, while ensuring it is safe and healthy for residents. Good hygiene is everyone’s responsibility.
Chefs often have the important task to remind their kitchen hands and staff of good hygiene practices and foster a culture of high standards and good hygiene habits. It is imperative that everyone in an Aged Care kitchen understand their responsibilities for keeping the facility clean.
Effective personal hygiene, such as hand washing, in combination with industry best-practice cleaning practices, have been proven to reduce the rate of healthcare-associated infections (HAIs) and foodborne illnesses.
Here are our top 4 tips as a refresher for the important hygiene practices in your kitchen.
Hand Washing and personal hygiene are key
Hand washing is the single most important way to prevent the spread of infection. Always wash before and after handling any food. Be sure to also wash them after handling rubbish, raw meats, after using the bathroom, tending to a resident, blowing your nose, sneezing and coughing, and after touching animals (if your facility has pets). Wash your hands with soap and warm, running water. Build up a good, bubbly lather and wash every part of your skin, fingers and fingernails. Thoroughly rinse and dry your hands each time.
Keep hair covered and, for long hair, tied back to make sure a strand of hair never finds its way into a resident’s food.
Cleaning surfaces and equipment
Disinfecting all surfaces and equipment to prequires careful attention to detail and elbow grease throughout the day.
Spills should be cleaned immediately, and knives and equipment should be thoroughly washed in between use in hot soapy water. Follow the 7-step process for cleaning and sanitising: Scrape; Rinse (first time); Apply detergent; Rinse (again); Sanitise (scrub); Rinse (last time); Dry.
A colour-coded plastic chopping board system allows you to designate different coloured boards for different raw ingredients, to prevent cross-contamination. For example, red meat would always be cut on a red board, Poultry on a yellow board, dairy products on a white board, veggies on green and fish on blue. It is still critical to wash each board properly between each use. This means washing, rinsing, and sanitising (either by heat or chemical sanitisers).
Clean all surfaces and equipment at the end of the day, including walls. Walls are a natural place for condensation and grease to accumulate, creating a fantastic breeding ground for bacteria and a potential fire hazard.
Always use clean cloths and designate for different purposes
It is advisable to have different cloths for different purposes, to avoid transferring germs or grease from one surface to another. Launder and sanitise cleaning cloths after use.
Choose the right cleaning equipment for the job, including chemicals, to ensure your cleaning practices are as effective as possible in removing grease, germs and food completely. Commercial microfibre cloths are widely used in Aged Care facilities as they are very effective at trapping liquids, particles and grease within its fibres, to leave you with a hygienically clean surface without large amounts of chemicals and water.
Communicate and create the right culture
As Aristotle famously said: Excellence is not an act, but a habit. Encouraging everyone in the team to strive for excellence as a habit requires an atmosphere where the highest cleaning standards are upheld. Hands-on training and communication help develop this culture, but this is just the beginning. Cleaning and personal hygiene protocols need to be demonstrated and visible every day. A checklist of hygiene tasks and practices as a written reminder should be displayed where everyone can see it.