Experts explain how to create a cleaner, more hygienic
environment through strict controls and no-touch technologies.
By Michelle McAnally
No one likes to think about it, but our everyday environ- ment teems with germs. Most of them are harmless— according to the Mayo Clinic website, less than 1% cause
disease, and some bacteria that live in your body are even good for
you. But pizzerias provide havens for some types of bacteria and
viruses that can give your customers an infection or send them to
the hospital with food poisoning. And that can result in a temporary shutdown—and disastrous public relations—for a restaurant.
Studies by the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) show that
more than 50% of foodservice workers don’t follow safe hygiene
practices. The most common transmission of stomach viruses and
foodborne disease in restaurants can be attributed to unwashed
hands. According to CDC statistics, one out of every six Americans
will catch an illness from unclean hands each year. With those
odds, restaurant managers must take the lead in monitoring and
enforcing good hygiene practices.
According to Mark Nealon, a former New York City health in-
spector and owner of the consulting company SAFE Restaurants,
the biggest sources of germs in the pizzeria are poor hygiene,
sick workers and cross-contamination between raw foods and
ready-to-eat foods. “It can be easy to overlook good cleaning
practices when the restaurant is at its busiest and the main con-
cern becomes the orders rather than proper sanitary techniques,”
Nealon says. “It falls on management to stress good cleaning
practices at all times.”
Some common illnesses that can be transmitted in a restaurant
include salmonellosis, listeriosis, staph, Norwalk virus, hepatitis
A and shigellosis. Employees can infect others if they do not
wash their hands effectively or if they prepare food when they
have open sores. Workers who don’t appear to be sick can still
transmit diseases, even weeks after they have been infected. Staff
can also be exposed to germs by improperly cleaning restroom
facilities or by touching dirty dishes and utensils. That’s why it is
crucial that your employees wash their hands often, even if they
haven’t used the restroom or come into contact with raw food.
And common sense says that the manager should always send a
sick employee home.
December 2012 • pmq.com 45
A Culture of Food Safety
Most employees would never intentionally spread their germs.
“One barrier seems to be time, but, when digging deeper, the
real problem appears to be time management and good organizational skills,” says Dr. Catherine Strohbehn, an extension
specialist and professor at Iowa State University. “The person in
charge needs first to establish a culture of food safety. This is done
through infrastructure—communication of expectations—and