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Last updated: 04.08.17

Food hygiene: What are the germ hot spots in your kitchen?

When running a food business it is crucial that areas where food is stored and handled are as clean as possible so that they are not susceptible to bacteria.

Employers who own food businesses across the UK want to ensure that their customers enjoy their product, whether it be a dining experience in a restaurant or on a larger scale with foods bought in a supermarket. This means creating foods that are both tasty and safe to eat.

If food is prepared in an environment that allows bacteria to spread and food-borne illnesses to develop, it is unlikely that customers will want to buy or experience the product again. When working in a kitchen, it is crucial that food handlers and professionals know of the germ hotspots so that they can clean them regularly and keep food as safe as possible.

While many people not familiar with food safety believe that bacteria and germs are brought in from outside of the kitchen, this is actually a myth. In most instances, food poisoning is picked up in the kitchen due to poor food and kitchen hygiene. Although everywhere in a professional kitchen should be cleaned regularly, there are some areas that need more attention than others. Here we take a look at the most common germ hot spots within a kitchen and how you can prevent the spreading of dangerous bacteria.

Don’t forget the kitchen sink!

In any kitchen, the sink is one of the most used items, which means it often gets dirty quickly. The kitchen sink can get contaminated with bacteria if it has been used to wash foods that are raw before cooking, this includes meat and poultry, fruit, salad and vegetables.

In addition to this, sponges, cloths and mops are frequently used and rinsed in the sink both before and after cleaning other areas of the kitchen that could be contaminated. This will allow bacteria to thrive within the sink if not disinfected regularly.

Cloths and sponges

This leads on to cloths and sponges and the amount of bacteria they will contain if not washed properly or changed regularly. Food professionals and handlers should try to avoid leaving wet or damp cloths or sponges hanging around, as bacteria can quickly spread among them.

But this doesn’t mean having to constantly replace sponges and cloths with new ones. You can prevent germs multiplying by reusing and soaking them in hot soapy water or kitchen disinfectant.

Bins and rubbish areas

Bins and rubbish areas are one of the major places in the kitchen for germs to thrive. With rubbish, food juices and peelings regularly placed as waste here, bacteria is often present. To avoid the development of any food-borne illnesses, those working in the kitchen should use a bin with a lid to reduce odours and keep bacteria to a minimum. Bins should be sprayed every day and cleaned thoroughly at least once or twice a week by emptying and disinfecting all parts.

Food contact spots

Food contact spots will naturally become contaminated with bacteria if not cleaned regularly. Cutting boards, knives and worktops are often prone to this, especially if they have been used with raw foods like meat, poultry, salad items, fruit and vegetables.

It is also a good idea to separate raw foods from ready-to-eat items and a way that many food businesses do this is by using different coloured cutting boards. After preparing any type of food, these contact spots should be wiped, washed and disinfected. Food handlers should also make sure they wash their hands thoroughly afterwards.

Touched surfaces

While there are many surfaces in the kitchen that don't directly come into contact with food, bacteria can often been passed to food from frequently touched surfaces. This surfaces include taps, worktop benches, door knobs and drawer handles, and internal surfaces of the fridge, freezer and cooker.

To avoid the transmission of germs, food handlers should wash their hands with soapy and hot water even when they don’t appear dirty, before handling food. Employers should also ensure that these surfaces are regularly disinfected so that they are not contaminated by bacteria. In the kitchen, the hands are one of the most important causes of cross contamination and infection, which is why it is crucial to wash hands frequently.

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