Unless his name is Ratatouille and he’s an animation, a rat in the kitchen of a restaurant or hotel is completely unacceptable. And while it’s unlikely that you’d actually allow rats free reign in your kitchen, there are other hygiene practises in which your staff need to be rigorously trained. So much so that they’re not just practises adhered to, but are a deeply ingrained culture.

Word spreads fast and you want your clientele to be declaiming about the amazing food, the incredible ambience and the first class service. Not food poisoning.

The basic rules of kitchen hygiene are obvious and yet in the heat of battle, so to speak, can often be skipped in order to get the food to the hungry diners as quickly as possible. There are four areas where attention to hygiene is a must: Personal, Food and Dishwashing.

Kitchen Rules for Personal Hygiene

  1. Apart from creating amazing dishes, washing hands is the most important thing you have to master. Washing your hands must be done properly – and that involves lavish applications of soap or a hand sanitiser. It must be done when you arrive at the kitchen, when you switch from handling raw meat to fruit and vegetables and every time you use the bathroom.
  2. Never ever handle food if your hand has an open sore or a cut unless you’re wearing thin plastic gloves or finger cots.
  3. Long hair must always be tied back and a hat or a hairnet should be worn as well.
  4. Wear a clean apron.

Kitchen Rules for the Food

  1. If in doubt, throw it out. Don’t take chances. Rumours of food poisoning can kill a restaurant.
  2. Most hotels and restaurants use only all fresh produce but if you are using canned food for any reason check the can carefully before opening it. Any leaks, rusty sections, dents or bulges are all warning signs. Throw it away unopened.
  3. When the fresh produce arrives it must be stored in the fridge or frozen immediately. Bacteria loves to grow in room temperature food. Defrosting food must be done in the fridge, the microwave or cold running water. Never leave it on a work surface.
  4. Make sure you use the correct utensils and boards for raw meat vs fruit and vegetables.

Kitchen Rules for Washing the Dishes

Everyone knows how to wash dishes – pop them in the dishwasher. But what if you don’t have a dishwasher? Here are the best steps to follow:

  1. Scrape the food off the dishes into the bin.
  2. Wash the dishes in water that is 44oC or hotter.
  3. Rinse the dishes in clean water.
  4. Sanitize the dishes for 45 seconds in clean 24oC water to which you’ve added one capful of chlorine bleach.
  5. Air dry the dishes. Dish cloths can harbour germs.

Follow these rules and you can focus on what you joined the hospitality industry for – creating incredible food!