Article contributed by Dhruv Kishore Bole
In food service establishments, cross contamination of food items from contaminated equipment or surfaces is one of the most common sources of food-borne illnesses and outbreaks.
To protect food safety and prevent the spread of food-borne illnesses, food safety regulations require all food service establishments to have a cleaning and sanitation plan in addition to a HACCP plan. An effective cleaning and sanitation plan is critical to food safety. The sanitation plan is a prerequisite requirement that specifies how surfaces, equipment and areas will be cleaned and sanitized to prevent biological, chemical and physical hazards from contaminating the food.
Before we go any further, it’s important to understand the distinction between cleaning and sanitizing. Cleaning is the removal of visible dirt, debris or grease using a detergent, whereas sanitizing is the reduction of harmful microorganisms to safe levels using sanitizing chemicals. It is important to remember that cleaning and sanitizing go hand in hand. Sanitization cannot be performed on dirty surfaces, so all equipment and surfaces must be thoroughly cleaned prior to sanitization. Because sanitizers cannot penetrate soil, they are less effective when soil is present on the surface. Furthermore, even if the surface appears clean, it may harbor disease-causing pathogens that are invisible to the naked eye and can lead to contamination.
A restaurant manager or executive chef with experience developing sanitizing plans can develop the plan that meets national food safety standards or a certified and experienced hygiene manager can be hired to supervise cleaning and sanitation operations and prepare the plan. Restaurant owners and operators can also seek the assistance of public health officers in developing a sanitizing plan. This article will walk you through the steps of creating a cleaning and sanitation plan that meets national standards. A sanitation plan can be divided into several sections.
In the first section, identify all areas, equipment and surfaces in the establishment that need to be cleaned. Specify how frequently those areas, equipment and surfaces must be cleaned and sanitized (daily, weekly, monthly, or annually), as well as the cleaning and sanitizing procedures to be followed. This can be accomplished by creating a Master Sanitation Schedule as well as Sanitation Standard Operating Procedures (SSOPs). A tabular Master Sanitation Schedule must be created that specifies what needs to be cleaned, when it needs to be cleaned, how it will be cleaned and who will be in-charge of cleaning. For example, an espresso machine must be cleaned with a machine cleaning powders or tablets every other week.
Sanitation Standard Operating Procedures (SSOPs) must be developed in conjunction with the Master Sanitation Schedule, outlining step-by-step procedures for cleaning and sanitation of equipment, surfaces and areas. This includes documenting all cleaning and sanitizing steps such as pre-cleaning preparation, following chemical mixing instructions, applying cleaning chemicals, post-rinse, post-cleaning inspection and sanitizer application.
Defining cleaning and sanitizing procedures will help achieve a higher level of cleanliness and sanitation. If employees are unsure, they should be able to refer to the SSOPs and Master Sanitation Schedule. If any equipment requires Cleaning in Place (CIP), cleaning and sanitization procedures for such equipment must also be identified. A monitoring procedure must be in place for cleaning and sanitation. Establish a monitoring procedure to ensure that cleaning and sanitation are carried out in accordance with SSOPs that the proper chemical is used, that chemical mixing instructions are followed, and that water temperature is checked before cleaning. Monitoring will assist in identifying any noncompliance with the cleaning and sanitation SSOPs and in implementing corrective actions to avoid recurrence. It is also critical to identify the protective equipment that will be provided to cleaning and sanitation workers to protect them from chemical exposure.
Record-keeping is also an essential component of an effective cleaning and sanitation plan. Cleaning and sanitizing activities must be recorded on a regular basis using logs to ensure that cleaning and sanitizing have occurred. Create inspection checklists and cleaning logs for all equipment and areas and ensure that the person in-charge fills them out during cleaning and inspections.
In the second section, identify the cleaning and sanitizing agents that will be used in the establishment. The mixing instructions for the chemical, as well as its intended purpose, must be defined in this section. Another important piece of information to provide is the location of cleaning and sanitizing chemical storage to ensure that they do not cross-contaminate any food items. In the final section, identify which pesticides will be used to control pests and how they will be applied. This section must also describe how these pesticides will be stored to avoid contact with incoming materials, packaging containers or food items. If a pest control company is hired, make sure the pesticides they use are non-toxic to humans and safe for use with food.
Most importantly, cleaning chemicals and sanitizers must be carefully chosen in order to achieve optimal cleaning and sanitation performance. Many factors influence the selection and effectiveness of cleaning chemicals and sanitizers, including type of soil and cleaning surface, water temperature and hardness and sanitizing chemical contact time. In areas with high moisture and temperature, as well as a high volume of food spills and footfalls, such as the food preparation area, strong cleaning and sanitizing agents may be required. Given this, it is critical to collaborate and collaborate closely with cleaning chemical and sanitizer suppliers in order to identify the most effective chemicals and sanitizers. Training and educating cleaning and sanitation employees is also critical to the success of the cleaning and sanitation plan. It is also a good idea to ask cleaning and sanitizing chemical suppliers to educate employees on how to use cleaning and sanitizing agents and how to interpret Material Safety Data Sheets (MSDS). It is also critical that equipment manufacturers train employees on how to disassemble food handling equipment safely for cleaning and inspection. This will assist in achieving a high level of cleanliness and sanitation.
The success of the cleaning and sanitation program is also affected by infrastructure and building design. It is always preferable to design food service establishments with sanitary design principles in mind, as this makes cleaning easier and contributes to a sanitary environment. Another consideration is that the cleaning and sanitation plan must be simple, clear and concise so that employees can understand it. Employees who do not understand the cleaning and sanitation plan are more likely to make mistakes that jeopardize food safety. A cleaning and sanitation plan, as well as MSDS sheets, should be kept on-site and easily accessible to employees. During food safety inspections, food inspectors review them to ensure that the sanitizing plan is implemented and consistently followed. It must be updated on a regular basis, such as when cleaning chemicals and equipment are replaced.
The cleaning and sanitation plan includes detailed cleaning and sanitation instructions. It helps to maintain a sanitary environment, which is necessary for food safety. Because regulatory requirements vary by country, the sanitation plan can be written in any way that works best for the restaurant, but it must meet national standards. Developing and implementing an effective cleaning and sanitation plan will not only help food service establishments prevent foodborne illnesses and outbreaks, but it will also protect businesses from product liability lawsuits and help them achieve higher inspection scores.
Dhruv Kishore Bole is a hospitality and food safety specialist with qualifications in hotel management, food safety and quality management system. He has extensive experience spanning over twelve years in operational and training roles. His expertise centers on hospitality operation, food and beverage services and food safety. He has attended numerous workshops and conferences on customer service, leadership and food safety and quality and is certified by Food Safety and Standards Authority of India in food safety competencies. He is currently offering services in the capacity of Faculty, Food & Beverage service at State Institute of Hotel Management, Siddhpur, India. He is an empanelled trainer with Hero Mindmine and IL&FS Skills. He is a member of Quality Council of India and an instructor and proctor with ServSafe for India region.