20 Feb How Clean Is Your Refrigeration Equipment Really?
Cleanliness is arguably the single most important part of your catering business, so strict procedures should be in place, but also that they must be followed and reviewed regularly.
Looking at your business through your customers’ eyes will help, although it is not always easy. Your customers will expect everything they use to be clean, whether that is cutlery and crockery or an ice machine in a bar or hotel. Cutlery is easy to clean because all surfaces are visible, and it can be washed thoroughly by hand or by machine, but an ice machine or similar machinery can be much trickier.
When it comes to an ice machine, only some of it is ever visible to your customers. That leaves a lot of working parts out of sight and potentially overlooked on the cleaning rota. Whether they are attached to fountain-style liquid dispensers or they are standalone machines, the lime-scale build-up is a common problem, as is mold growing in pipes and water lines. It is imperative then that all parts of the machines are cleaned thoroughly and regularly and regular maintenance performed.
Real Health Concerns
It goes without saying that if the equipment that serves ice and drinks is contaminated with mold and bacteria, then the ice and drinks themselves can cause health concerns, or the taste could be compromised at the very least. On top of that, the equipment itself could fail. Lime-scale is very bad news for commercial and domestic refrigeration equipment, causing any number of parts to fail, which in turn leads to the breakdown of machinery.
Expert retailers can advise on the easiest equipment to keep clean, and how to go about ensuring the deep-clean that is required is easy to deliver. In addition to regular cleaning by your staff, it is advisable to have professional cleaning booked in as part of your routine, too. Using a qualified maintenance engineer can ensure that your refrigeration equipment is disassembled carefully, thoroughly cleaned, and then put together again correctly.
Food Quality & Safety goes into more detail about keeping a ‘healthy’ commercial refrigeration unit. And for more information about how cleanliness is rated, see the website of the Food Standards Agency.
A professional service might seem an unnecessary expense, especially for smaller businesses, but the cost of not maintaining equipment properly can be far higher. Prevention of breakdowns, via regular maintenance, is an almost always better value than having to replace a part, not to mention the cost of any lost business.
Using antimicrobial solutions is important in ensuring your machinery is properly clean and not just looking clean to the human eye. Of course, if your standards are high enough in cleaning your equipment, then it is likely that you are already taking the care required in other parts of your business that customers will judge even before they get to a point of ordering food or drink.