Kitchen faeces farce could be flushed away with better hygiene practices

Ice cubes

A recent BBC investigation that uncovered traces of faecal bacteria in ice served by leading coffee shop chains has reiterated the far-reaching consequences of poor hygiene practice, according to catering equipment manufacturer Mechline.

Starbucks, Caffé Nero and Costa were all found to have concerning levels of bacteria in their ice at multiple branches that were tested, even though experts claim it only takes 15 to 20 seconds of vigorous handwashing with soap and water to effectively remove bacteria which can cause infection.

Kristian Roberts, marketing manager at Mechline, said there are clear legal requirements that all foodservice operations must meet in a commercial kitchen environment.

“The law states that all commercial kitchens must provide an adequate number of washbasins, suitably located and designated for only cleaning hands. These must be provided with hot and cold running water, materials for cleaning hands and for hygienic drying. But simply having the minimum requirements in place, does not necessarily equate to successful outcomes. Foodservice operators are also legally obligated to ensure that food handlers are appropriately trained and supervised in food hygiene matters. This includes instruction on the correct use of equipment, effective handwashing practise and reinforcing the importance of handwashing.”

Mechline manufactures hygienic hand solutions for the foodservice and hospitality industry that make engaging in effective handwashing practice trouble-free.

One way is by reducing the need to touch taps, says Roberts.

“Electronic taps have been revolutionary in improving the hygiene in kitchen environments and The Food Standards Agency advise that ‘it is good practice to use non-hand operated taps at handwashing facilities as they reduce the risk of cross-contamination.’ With manual taps, the action of turning a tap on requires touching the tap lever or handle with dirty hands, and then revisiting the same lever or handle with clean hands to turn it off—a rather counterintuitive practise! Eliminating the need to touch taps reduces the potential of this cross contamination.”

Mechline’s range of electronic taps have a built in automatic motion sensor to ensure that no manual contact is required.

The water temperature and flow can be pre-set, so absolutely no contact is needed from hands to operate the tap. In addition to this, all taps with electronic controls are fitted with an antibacterial duty flush to automatically flush the device, preventing water stagnation and the potential build-up of bacteria.

Mechline also produces a range of hand wash basins, which have the option of being provided with hands-free operation via either a knee valve or push-front panel. This allows the user to refrain from touching any taps or the sink area with their hands, particularly useful after preparing raw ingredients, thus minimising the possibility of bacteria lurking.

“Handwashing may be seen as an insignificant part of an operator’s job, but this practise has significant and far-reaching consequences. We cannot stress enough how important regular and effective handwashing,” he said.

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