Rubber bands, wires, tissues; these aren’t just things we come across every day, these are things that Malaysians come across in their food quite often. That’s not all. Finding worms, maggots, ants, and cockroaches in dishes is a common occurrence too. It seems the standards of food safety in a nation where dining out is the way of life, are dropping consistently, and for most restaurants and food establishments, a simple apology is deemed fit.
In an effort to set a standard of cleanliness and hygiene in commercial kitchens, the Urban Wellbeing, Housing, and Local Government Ministry have stepped up their enforcement conducts. In 2016, 10,226 establishments were shut down nationwide for not adhering to food safety regulations and 14,914 compounds were issued to food outlets which failed to comply with hygiene requirements, personal hygiene of food handlers and handling of food.
Despite being slapped with fines and closures of premises, food contamination and poisoning seems to be the norm in Malaysian restaurants.
But it is time that food operators introspect about why they are in the business. Is to serve customers who can be extremely valuable your business, or do you merely want to reap profits while turning a blind eye to the consequences of unsanitary food preparation?
The Importance of Maintaining Hygiene Standards in Commercial Kitchens
Many foodborne illnesses are caused by contaminants and improper food handling practices. Contaminants could be–
- Chemicals, such as pesticides
- Physical such as hair, plastics, glass, etc. and,
- Biological, such as pathogens that are introduced into the food from infected food handlers, unsanitary food preparation areas and surfaces, or contaminated water.
Restaurants must maintain a clean and hygienic environment for the health and safety of employees and patrons. Add to that the opportunity to capitalize on an excellent dining experience of the customer and positive brand identity.
Educating your food handlers on proper sanitation processes in the kitchen as well as personal hygiene are of key importance. Knowing the why’s and how’s of keeping the cooking areas cleans, regularly washing and sanitising utensils, disposing of the waste in the right ways, keeping their hands clean, wearing proper kitchen gear and getting regular vaccinations is a must for every kitchen staff.
The responsibility of good cleaning practices should also be extended to every staff member of the restaurant, and more importantly, the restaurant management. Continual improvement of your restaurant’s cleaning practices through strict and rigorous cleanliness checks, feedback from staff and customers, and quarterly reviews should be encouraged. Without these internal and external feedback channels, it would be difficult for restaurants to grasp hold of customer and employee satisfaction levels, and cleanliness standards, which can contribute to the success or failure of your restaurant.
The ways a clean restaurant can add value to your brand are aplenty, but it is essential to for you as a restaurant owner and for your staff to take responsibility and pride in providing your customers with food that is outstanding, safe and hygienic.
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