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Food safety advice for businesses

Cleaning advice

Proper cleaning and disinfection of your food business is fundamental in preventing contamination of foodstuffs, and ensuring that the food you sell is safe to eat. Cleaning can seem like a chore, however it is a vital part of your businesses routine. Using the correct cleaning products and techniques can make the task easier and help ensure that your kitchen is clean and safe.

Clean regularly

If you leave food debris, grease and dirt to accumulate it will be harder to clean up. To keep your premises clean you must have a regular system of cleaning, and encourage your employees to clean as they go.

So that everybody understands what needs to be cleaned and when, you should produce a cleaning schedule, stating what needs to be cleaned daily, weekly and monthly. The frequency of cleaning will depend on your business.  The cleaning schedule should then be signed and dated as the items on the list are cleaned.

Hard to reach areas

Areas of the premises that are high up or low down can be hard to see or hard to reach, and are often overlooked during daily cleaning.  While they may not pose the same contamination risks as other surfaces such as food preparation tables, these are the exact places that rodents, particularly mice, like to live, and they can survive simply on the food debris that accumulates in these areas

Use the correct product for the job

  • Detergents can be used on all non-food contact surfaces in the kitchen such as the floor or shelves holding packaged goods.  They do not kill bacteria.
  • Degreasers are better than detergents for cleaning very greasy non-food contact surfaces such as stainless steel splash backs and extractor hoods. They do not kill bacteria.
  • Disinfectants can be used on surfaces that come into contact with food or hands, but they must be of a 'food safe' type.  They can be deactivated if the surfaces are not already clean, so if you use disinfectant, make sure you have cleaned the surface with a detergent. They do kill bacteria, but cannot be used on their own.
  • Sanitisers have detergent and disinfectant properties, and can be used to clean all food contact surfaces. They must be of a 'food safe' type.

Care must be taken with the use of cleaning materials. The manufacturers instructions must always be followed and protective equipment worn if required. It is very important that cleaning products are not mixed as toxic gases can be given off that can damage health. If cleaning chemicals are 'made up' with water, it is important that the manufacturers recommended water dilution level be used. They may be ineffective or hazardous if used at the wrong concentration.

Cloths and towels

Old, damp and dirty cloths and towels are frequently highly contaminated with bacteria and you may be simply wiping bacteria all over the surfaces that you are trying to clean.  If re-usable cloths are used it is essential that they are clean and are regularly disinfected by boiling or soaking in a bleach solution.

We recommend the use of disposable paper cleaning towels for cleaning food contact surfaces in food businesses. These are used once, and then discarded. Contact your cleaning materials supplier who will be able to give further information about suitable products.