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.
We are all about clean hands here at CloudClean, and we continue to write and post about the importance of good hand washing, the consequences of poor hand washing and the statistics of spreading foodborne illnesses as a result of improper hand washing, but what we can’t stress enough is the perception your establishment’s good hand hygiene is to your customers. You may never encounter a lawsuit or bad press because of a foodborne illness, however your customers will stop patronizing your establishment, no matter how tasty your pizza may be, if they think your food is being prepared or handled less than hygienic. You won’t even realize why no one is frequenting your restaurant anymore, people will just stop showing up. Details like these are not often mentioned by customers they just decide next time “i’ll just go someplace else”, and your restaurant / eatery will no longer thrive.
What we found even more important in this unfortunate unhygienic encounter was the disconnect of the staff food server and the importance of what proper hand hygiene compliance means. This young gentleman took a slight pause after picking up the fallen glove and considered something before putting the glove back on. Did he think, “5 second rule, it’s okay.”, or, “Does it look dirty?, No, I can put it back on.”, or maybe it was “I have to remember to pick up my dry cleaning later.” We just don’t know, but what we do know is that whatever it was the result ended in him thinking picking up something from the floor, then NOT wash his hand and then use the item from the floor to continue to server food to YOUR customers was okay. It is not sanitary, it is not hygienic, it is not good business and this food server doesn’t even know why.
Despite good staff training, individuals can be careless, lazy and thoughtless. It is not their restaurant or their livelihood that is affected when customers stop buying. They figure there is always another eatery they can go to. It will always your responsibility (owner / manager) to not only find unique ways to improve food safety, but also maintain positive customer perception as well as exceed their expectations.