With Christmas a distant memory, and New Year’s resolutions in full swing, January and February can be notoriously quiet months for hospitality businesses. As fewer people come through the doors, this shouldn’t be a time to dawdle – now is the perfect opportunity to assess hygiene levels after the Christmas rush.
This is particularly important within commercial kitchens, where hygiene levels may have slipped after the onslaught of the festive rush. While you may feel like relaxing after this busy time, don’t waste the opportunity to do an audit of your business’s hygiene standards and compliance. These are paramount to the health, safety and welfare of both customers and employees.
While all hospitality companies should have a regular cleaning regime in place, it’s important to consider a further deep clean to comply with stringent cleaning standards. This should include ventilation cleaning in particular, which addresses a legal requirement for facility managers to ensure enclosed workspaces and kitchens are ventilated with fresh, purified air.
Scheduling a deep clean
Thorough deep cleans should be scheduled to take place at least twice a year, ideally after busy periods such as Christmas. These cover areas not included in the day-to-day cleaning regime, such as behind equipment and kitchen fittings, as well as tackling any grime build-up in grease traps and ventilation systems. Deep cleans are particularly important in winter, when flu and norovirus outbreaks often occur, and when people tend to spend more time indoors, which can increase risks of cross contamination.
Cleaning those hard-to-reach areas can present unique challenges and safety risks, especially in areas that are high up. High level cleaning can be a difficult process to carry out, so only trained staff should undertake this type of work. The safest approach is to bring in specialist technicians with the appropriate training and equipment – they’ll perform a full risk assessment before carrying out any work, to ensure maximum levels of safety. Accredited certification from the Royal Society for Public Health (RSPH) is a sign of a properly trained technician.
High level cleaners have a plethora of tools available to them in the fight against grime. The equipment used depends not only on the height of the area that requires cleaning, but also on how confined the space is. Mobile Elevated Work Platforms (MEWPS) allow technicians to reach elevated areas, while tools such as jet washers, backpack vacuums, water feed brushes and long reach poles, enable the efficient cleaning of these difficult places to take place.
Don’t forget about the vents
Cooking on masse during the Christmas period will no doubt have produced waste food, fats and grease in commercial kitchens. Hospitality businesses need to follow practical measures to avoid the build-up of dirt, grime and bacteria that results from cooking, particularly in areas like grease traps and extract ventilation systems. Routine cleaning alone will not suffice.
For example, build-up in a grease trap can become very difficult to remove and, if left untended, the trap will not only become ineffective but may also become a source of unpleasant odours. This has a knock-on effect on ventilation systems where grease, carbon and steam build-ups can quickly form in ventilation ducts, creating a potential harbourage for mould and germs to generate. What’s more, unclean ventilation systems can also pose a significant fire hazard. It’s estimated that 70% of fires in commercial kitchens originate in faulty extract ventilation systems due to the build-up of fat or grease. Fires within ductwork can be difficult to stop as they’re often inaccessible and can quickly spread to other areas of the building. If you don’t tackle these with a deep clean, you could be at risk of breaching the The Food Safety Act 1990 – which all hospitality venues are obliged to comply with.
TR19 is another standard that must be taken into consideration when it comes to ventilation cleaning. It was introduced by the Building Engineering Services Association (BESA) to standardise duct, kitchen extract, and air handling cleaning in the UK. Being compliant means ensuring adequate inspection is provided to ductwork and mechanisms. It also ensures cleaning processes and post-cleaning verification methods are met.
To ensure compliance, its best to call in the experts, who will provide regulatory sign-off. Rentokil Specialist Hygiene uses a wet film comb or an Elcometer 465, a thickness gauge with a scan probe to measure the levels of grease in a commercial kitchen’s system. From this, a detailed TR19 report is put together; collating accurate readings of the thickness of any dry deposits in the air handling systems.
As it quietens down after a busy holiday period, it’s important for hospitality businesses to take this opportunity to supplement their cleaning regimes. A deep clean is essential in ensuring commercial kitchens are compliant, hygienic and prepared for the year ahead.
By Paul Casson, Technical Field Manager, Rentokil Specialist Hygiene