The COVID-19 pandemic has brought public health and cleanliness to the fore as a first-line defence in halting its transmission. As a respiratory illness, the virus spreads through the air and on surfaces. It is not thought to spread through food.
Increasing hygiene standards will help to reduce the spread of COVID-19 as well as other harmful bacteria and pest activity.
Know your cleaning products
Understanding the function and limitations of the chemicals is crucial for their effective use. Both chemicals and cleaning equipment needs to be certified food-safe, and you must always read the manufacturer’s instructions.
Detergent: A chemical used for general cleaning (e.g. washing up liquid or degreaser). It removes visible dirt, grease and food. However, it is essential to note that detergents do not kill micro-organisms.
Disinfectant: Kills bacteria and viruses. These products only work if surfaces have been cleaned thoroughly first to remove grease and dirt. Disinfectants should meet relevant standards such as BS EN 1276 or BS EN 13697 to ensure that the bactericidal activity of these chemicals is effective against controlling harmful micro-organisms.
Sanitiser: A two-in-one productwhich is a detergent and disinfectant. First, use it to clean the surface and then use it again to disinfect. Sanitisers should also comply with BS EN 1276 or BS EN 13697 as a minimum.
Other considerations include:
Contact time: How long the disinfecting or sanitising product needs to be left on the surface or equipment for harmful bacteria to drop to a safe level.
Specific COVID-19 Safety: For extra protection look for products which meet the standard ES 14476, such chemicals are effective against enveloped viruses including coronaviruses and COVID-19.
The Cleaning Schedule.
Effective cleaning happens in two stages:
- Use detergent or sanitiser to remove all visible dirt, grease and debris, wipe off and rinse.
- Disinfect – following the manufacturer’s instructions, apply a disinfectant and leave for required contact time.
A cleaning schedule is a useful tool to manage this process. It should include the following:
What needs to be cleaned and disinfected
Make a list of all things that need cleaning, and what needs disinfecting. Generally speaking, items that come into contact with food (e.g. worktops, chopping boards, knives) and frequently touched items (e.g. door handles, taps, sinks) need disinfecting. Surfaces and items that have been in contact with raw food or leaks or spills will need to be cleaned and disinfected.
COVID-19 Safe Measures
Disinfect frequently touched objects, surfaces and shared equipment such as telephones, counters, tills, card machines, chairs, trays, laminated menus. Wedge doors open, where appropriate and safe, to reduce touchpoints.
Some items need to be cleaned more frequently than others. Things that touch food are a high priority – wash work surfaces thoroughly between tasks, especially before preparing ready-to-eat foods.
Other items that do not directly touch food are not as high a priority but should also be cleaned. These can include floors, walls, storage areas.
COVID-19 Safe Measures
Increase the frequency of cleaning and disinfection, paying particular attention to shared equipment and high touch areas, cleaning surfaces and objects between each customer use.
How to clean
For each group of items write down the chemicals and cleaning equipment to be used. Check existing stocks are within their use-by date. Assess if staff need re-training on dilution rates and cleaning procedures.
This is the most crucial part as dirty hands are the most common and direct route for spreading micro-organisms.
When to wash hands:
- Before handling any food, especially ready-to-eat food. Also, after touching raw food or any packaging used for it
- When entering the kitchen after a break/ toilet
- After emptying bins
- After using cleaning chemicals
- Before preparing food for a customer with a food allergy.
Additional COVID-19 Safe Measures
Check hot and cold running water is available at all sinks and hand washbasins. Consider updating staff training manuals in line with government advice that staff should wash their hands more frequently than usual; this should be for 20 seconds with warm water and soap.
Consider providing hand sanitizer in addition to handwashing facilities at appropriate locations