It was a late work night this past Thursday, and lucky for us we live in a urban area where restaurants and eateries tend to stay open late, especially from Thursday night throughout the weekend as people begin to enjoy their weekends. When it came to deciding what to have for dinner we decided to hit one of the many pizza places in the area to grab a couple of slices for a late dinner. As we approached the pizzeria we could see one of the pizza servers behind the counter drop his protective glove on the floor, pick it up, inspect if for all of 3 seconds and put it back onto his hand and proceed to ask us what we would like. There was no hesitation, no embarrassment and no shame on his part. Taken aback by the sight we kindly declined and walked out, never to return again.
Here at CloudClean, we continue to promote the importance of handwashing compliance within the food service industry, blogging and posting news articles on our Facebook and Twitter pages proving that handwashing compliance in the food industry continues to be an issue. Some articles highlight restaurant failings and violations, followed by required penalties and fines, temporary shut downs and bad press. Although our posts might be interesting to you, we believe there are some of you out there that are saying to yourselves, “that could never happen to us.”
We understand that implementing new food safety standards can sometimes cost time and money that you do not want to spend. Often times restaurant or food industry owners feel their food safety training is diligent, clean facilities are maintained and the likelihood of a shut down or lawsuit is highly unlikely.
Then, consider this…
Juicing is not a new concept, rather a HUGE trend that has grown in the past couple of years, and is estimated to grow further into a $1.1 billion dollar industry by 2015, according to Beverage Industry magazine. Companies like BluePrintCleanse (BPC) have changed the beverage industry making raw juices, and juice cleanses, more desirable and more accessible to everyone, and influencing companies like Starbucks take notice and try their hand in the game. Starbucks is purchasing Evolution Fresh in hopes to do for juices what it has done for coffee.
The summer is ending and parents are getting their kids ready to go back to school. Whether they are starting first grade or entering in their senior year, parents are preparing their kids with an abundance of school supplies and enforcing good hygiene practices to avoid getting sick during the school year. Although kids might embrace a sick day, parents want to avoid them and will do everything they can to prevent their kids from illness, but the question is are the schools doing everything they can?
Have you ever been in and eatery where you see some of the employees wearing protective gloves? At first you feel good knowing that this establishment has enforced good hand hygiene compliance and food safety standards to make sure your food is protected… that is up until they person behind the counter who has carefully made your meal walks over to the cash register to deliver your order, takes your money, and then, without changing their gloves, goes back to make another sandwich. So much for protecting my food.
Not all restaurants, eateries, etc. who have their employees handle food also handle money, but it makes you question those who where gloves while preparing food how often are their gloves changed to be effective? More importantly, are they even washing their hands? Research shows that gloves, although reduce the rate of hand contamination, germs can still travel through the glove material which means gloves are not 100% effective and are no substitution for proper hand washing compliance.
We often talk about poor hand hygiene compliance when it comes to employees who handle food. Sometimes they forget protocol, often they are too rushed to implement, or they are just not properly educated enough in food safety and hand hygiene compliance. We acknowledge that company executives do not have visibility into every restaurant they own, nor does every manager have the ability to watch every employee at the same time, but we can’t put all the blame on the staff. It is the responsibility of the executive branch and management team to care about food safety throughout their company, and hand hygiene compliance among their employees. If the leaders do not care, why should their employees.
It is hard to believe that in today’s sterile society of portable hand gels, anti-bacterial soaps, motion sensor soap dispensers, no touch hand dryers and hand sanitizers stationed at every doorway that people still do not wash their hands after going to the bathroom. What we continue to find equally surprising, and more disconcerting, is that the people who handle food in restaurants, despite health codes and hygiene standards, they do not wash their hands as much as you would think. Society has made cleaning hands virtually effortless for everyone, yet clean hands remains an issue in the food industry.
No matter how much training you provide your employees, the reality is mistakes happen. We are all human and even with the best of intentions we can all make an error at any moment. When it comes to food in particular, restauranteurs know they hold the health of their customers in their hands, literally, so every mistake counts.
It was reported recently that a favorite fast casual comfort food restaurant in Virginia landed 4 critical violations which included handling raw meat, then immediately other foods, without washing their hands in between. The establishment corrected the violation the same day and the corporate office followed up ensuring quality control standards were being met. Luckily, no one was affected by the error.
In recent news a disgruntled fast-food worker spit into two customer’s cups of iced tea, a reprehensible act beyond reproach. It is a unique incident that is not the norm (we hope) and reflects more so on the individual than the fast-food company. However, it is still bad press putting fast-food restaurants in the spotlight once again questioning food safety in fast-food establishments.
Despite the number of health code violations recorded amongst fast-food businesses 25% of Americans still eat fast-food everyday. Why? Because at the end of the day, good companies ensure visible violations are mended to fall back into compliance.
As a restaurant owner/manager, you do not know for sure if your employees wash their hands after using the bathroom—no one can know what happens behind closed doors. Not only do you hope your employees follow proper hand hygiene compliance, but your customers are hoping too.