The best cleaning technology and products in the world aren’t
enough if management and employees fail to take advantage
of them and use safe practices. The Handwashing for Life Institute ( handwashingforlife.com), a global organization devoted
to reducing infections caused by poor hand washing hygiene
practices, and Iowa State University Extension Service offer the
following tips for helping to keep your pizzeria germ-free:
• Soap Dispensers—Eliminate open-top soap dispensers;
they can harbor microbes and be a source of contamination.
Install a closed-bag system, preferably equipped with a
device for counting the number of times it is used so management can monitor employees’ hand washing behaviors.
• Paper Towels—As wet hands readily transfer pathogens to
food, utensils and surfaces, install touch-free, single-use
paper towel machines. Clean the dispenser parts frequently
with a quality sanitizer.
• Hand Sanitizers—Install hand sanitizing stations in kitchen areas where it is not practical to install a full hand wash
station. Ensure that waitstaff has easy access to these
stations at or near work areas.
• Water Temperature—For proper sanitization, the ideal
water temperature is 100°F and flows at two gallons per
minute. A comfortable, yet sufficiently hot, temperature will
help encourage frequency of washing, while strong flow is
critical for effective washing.
• Sinks and Faucets—If you currently have hand-operated
taps or buttons, consider replacing them with automatic or
hands-free appliances. Replace highly grooved taps with
smooth surface taps for easy cleaning and sanitizing. If
you have regular taps, ensure that surfaces are sanitized
during each shift. Place a sanitizing spray bottle at each
hand wash station.
• Effective Communication—Employ oral and written messages consistently to motivate employees to use safe food
• Be a Role Model—Serve as an example to your employees
and use safe practices yourself.
• The Stick and the Carrot—Implement informal and formal
disciplinary strategies for employees that don’t follow proper
cleanliness procedures. Recognize and reward the ones that
exhibit safe food handling behaviors.
46 PMQ Pizza Magazine – The Pizza Industry’s Business Monthly
monitoring—are employees doing what they are supposed to be
doing when they are supposed to be doing it? Tools and proce-
dures must be worker-friendly.”
According to Strohbehn, detergent, water and chemical sanitiz-
ers are generally effective against foodborne and disease-carry-
ing germs. “We use the phrase ‘dedicated and designated tools’
for cleaning, which means the wiping cloths are earmarked for
cleaning purposes only for food contact areas—no dual use in
restrooms,” she says.
“Although there are many new cleaning systems on the market
each month, it comes down to basic cleaning and sanitation procedures,” notes Dr. Angela Shaw, an assistant professor of food
safety at Iowa State University. “You must clean first to remove
the dirt and fat before you can sanitize and kill the bacteria. There
has to be some dedication to daily cleaning and sanitation to
ensure that buildup of fat and dirt does not occur, and, if it has occurred, then you should schedule a night to just clean and scrub.
Like my mother says, put some elbow grease into it. Management
has to allow time for cleaning throughout the shift, and not just at
the end of the day when everyone is tired and wants to go home.”
An observational study by Strohbehn and her colleagues, published in the Journal of Food Protection in 2010, found restaurant staff may need to wash their hands an average of up to 28
times per hour, based on what food codes dictate as hand washing occasions. Unfortunately, Strohbehn says, establishments
often don’t comply with these codes. “Managers should monitor
supplies for hand washing, noting how much soap and disposable towels are being used,” recommends Strohbehn. “Managers
should look at work assignments, too, in an effort to reconfigure
task assignments to reduce the need to wash hands.”
The Clean Hands Doctrine
Plain, common soap has been the hand washing “tool” of choice
for at least 5,000 years. But some advanced technologies can help
ensure better sanitation practices in the restaurant environment.