C&H Needed to Satiate Diners

When a diner enters a restaurant often the first thing that she/he notices is the ambience and cleanliness of the place. A cockroach scuttling across the floor, or the tables and the surroundings being unkempt, will most likely repel the guest and she/he will, more often than not, walk out. Even if she/he doesn’t walk out of the restaurant, it is most likely that she/he wouldn’t visit the outlet again.

Even if the place looks appealing but if the diner is served meal in a platter that does not measure up to a high standard of cleanliness it is likely to repel her/him and she/he is unlikely to visit the place again.

Besides, an unfavourable review on the social media may negatively affect the reputation of the outlet in such a case. It is thus essential that a high standard of cleanliness and hygiene (C&H) is maintained in the F&B outlet, if it wants to succeed in this competitive industry. Ashok Malkani  analysis the need for keeping the food service outlets clean and hygienic and appraises of how the restaurateurs can keep their outlets sparkling and sanitised.

For an F&B outlet cleanliness and hygiene (C&H) is extremely critical to the success of the business. It must be realised that no matter how tasty your food maybe, how creative your dishes and how excellent your service maybe, consumers will not want to flock to your establishment if it is not clean.

Dirty dishes or cockroaches crawling along the place, or an insect in your beverage is definitely not going to be appreciated by the guests. In fact, these incidents would most likely make them livid. And with everyone spreading word on the social media these days, the F&B outlet that does not pay attention to cleanliness and hygiene is definitely going to find guests moving to the nearby outlet provided it is clean and hygienic! 

Of Crucial Importance
Riya Shah, Director of The Quick Wok, Pune, declared, “Hygiene and cleanliness is very important for any F&B outlet. Unkempt and dirty food or food premises, can lead to food and water contamination which may cause health hazards to people who consume that food or water. So it is mandatory for any food and beverage outlet to keep its kitchen, service area and also the food absolutely clean and away from any type of contamination.”

“Restaurant’s cleanliness and hygiene is any day more important than the taste of its food. You would never want to visit any restaurant that is kept dirty and has pest problems even though they serve the best of tasty food. Taste only matters till the food is in the mouth but the hygiene of the food matters directly to the health. It is better to have less tasty food than to fall ill by consuming tasty food. And I am sure a restaurant which is keen on keeping its premises, food and kitchen clean would definitely be keen on serving good and tasty food but the vice versa might not be always true,” she expressed.

“Cleanliness, hygiene and sanitation are the most important aspects in the restaurant business. Regardless of how tasty your food be, how creative your dishes be, and how excellent your service be, consumers will not want to flock to your establishment if it is not clean,” concurred Amit Raman, Director of Food & Beverage, Holiday Inn Mumbai International Airport.

“Undoubtedly cleanliness and hygiene of the restaurant is more important than the taste of its food,” Amit conveyed.

“Cleanliness, hygiene and sanitation are the three most important facets in the hospitality industry and have a direct impact on guest experience. These parameters create the first impression for guests, based on which their judgment is formed whether to return to the place or not. For an F&B outlet to succeed and grow, it must pay adequate attention to its cleanliness, hygiene and sanitation,” averred Shilpa Kosambia, Director of Housekeeping, Sofitel Mumbai BKC.

“At Sofitel Mumbai BKC, we have established various measures to constantly check hygiene and maintain the required level of cleanliness, which ensures good health of our guests and ambassadors alike. We have daily rounds taken by our supervisors along with the microbiologist, who in turn takes samples; not only of food but also of the equipments used for cooking. We at Sofitel Mumbai BKC, also have a yearly Hygiene and FLS Audit conducted by Diversey,” she elaborated.
 
“Taste is a significant factor for consumer groups, but its value holds good only when the restaurant’s vicinity and premises are deep cleaned always. Specifically, for luxury restaurants, high benchmarks are set and have to be adhered to. Cleanliness, hygiene and sanitation form an important aspect of the ambiance of restaurants and they play important roles to determine the recall value of the outlet in the guests' mind after they had left the outlet,” Shilpa expressed.


“Guests are now very specific in terms of the outlets they choose for dining out. They not only want great food and ambience, they also want a place which is clean and serves hygienic food. We can say that hygiene is the second most important factor that is required to run a restaurant after the quality of food,” opined Nitin Gupta, Director F&B, Novotel Pune Nagar Road.

“Cleanliness is non-negotiable as it is critical to a good mood,” he asserted further.

Gopal Jha, Executive Chef, Grand Mercure Bangalore, iterated, “In food & beverage industry safety and sanitation plays an essential part. There are various things which can define the fate of a restaurant and among them the hygiene of a restaurant plays a vital role. Restaurant hygiene is not just for ensuring health and safety of the staff and customers but it also plays a major role in defining the perception of the restaurant.”
 
“We can say that hygiene is the second most important factor which is required to run a restaurant after maintaining the quality of food," affirmed Gopal.

Ashish Tiwari, Executive  Chef, Novotel  Mumbai  Juhu Beach, declared, “We at Novotel Mumbai Juhu Beach believe that cleanliness, hygiene and sanitation are the most important aspects for an F&B outlet. Regardless of how tasty your food maybe, how excellent your service may be, the restaurant will not get enough footfall if it is not maintained in clean and hygienic way.”  He rightly believes comprehensive cleanliness of the restaurant is as important as the taste and quality of its food. “Nowadays guests prefer everything healthy and hygienic in the restaurants along with mouth-watering food,” he opined.
 
Vrinda Hingorani, the Owner of Becky’s Binging Bay at Salunke Vihar Road, Pune, declared, “Cleanliness and hygiene are the most important criteria for an F&B outlet to survive in the long-run.”

“Cleanliness and hygiene in restaurants can be facilitated by providing adequate training to staff; not only about the preparation but managing of the kitchen as a whole. We have regular checks set up for the same so that there is no compromise at any end,” Vrinda asserted.

Prasad Metrani, Executive Chef, Fairmont Jaipur, concurs with the rest. “I firmly believe that hygiene, cleanliness and sanitation are co-related aspects which are of great importance when it comes to maintaining an F&B outlet. Maintaining proper hygiene in a food preparation area is the key to avoid the occurrence of food-borne illness. Cleanliness, hygiene and sanitation not only limit the bacteria but also prevent attracting pests, which are the main carrier of diseases. At Fairmont Jaipur, the food production takes place inside a clean and hygienic setup, which provides high confidence in the product as well as it boosts the morale of the production staff,” he articulated.

“Maintaining of hygiene in restaurants is of utmost importance to keep up with the food health standards. However yummy your food is, if your food is not made in a hygienic way then you might end up losing on customers. We not only believe in external but also internal cleanliness and sanitation,” articulated Gagan Sial, Co-Founder, Rolls Mania, a Pune-based fast food chain.

“Both, food taste and hygiene and cleanliness in food service outlets are equally important and should never be compromised on because they do affect the end product,” observed Gagan. 

Neglecting Cleanliness Entails Loss
In this age, negligence of cleanliness and hygiene in a restaurant can lead to huge loss of reputation and business of the outlet. During the recent years, several outlets have acquired a bad reputation and suffered due to non compliance of hygiene and cleanliness.
 
“I remember a recent incident where someone posted a video in a hugely followed FB page which showed a number of cockroaches in a particular popular restaurant. That video got 500 comments in just 2 hours where everyone said they would now stop going to the restaurant even though it serves good food at quite a reasonable price. This proved that the hygiene of a restaurant is more important than its food taste and faltering on cleanliness and hygiene can make you lose your brand image and loyal customers in just some hours,” conveyed Riya.

“Very recently a client saw a rat entering an outlet and wrote about the same on social media platforms like Facebook, Whatsapp, etc. Within an hour there were trails of comments for the same. The outlet lost a lot of its regular customers too who read about the same,” recalled Vrinda.

“There are several incidents where cleanliness and hygiene have affected the reputation and business of a restaurant. A Michelin-star restaurant was closed due to food poisoning caused due to negligence of cleaning; also a five-star hotel in Rajasthan got its reputation at stake when a guest found pest in the food,” asserted Ashish.

Maintaining Comprehensive C&H
The general consensus among the hospitality fraternity is: maintenance of hygiene and cleanliness is of utmost importance for maintaining footfall in the food and beverage outlets. So how does one preserve the food service outlets’ hygiene and cleanliness? 

“Cleanliness can be attained by keeping a proper schedule of cleaning every nook and corner of the restaurant and its kitchen area and making it a point that the staff follows the schedule. The schedule should have the list of all the areas that need to be cleaned and also the timelines i.e. daily once, twice or more, and the exact times. Example, the sweeping and mopping of the customer area needs to be done at least twice daily. The schedule has to be worked out by the Manager and he/she should make sure it is followed religiously,” elucidated Riya.

“One of the worst nightmares for guests is experiencing food poisoning after eating in a restaurant. To avoid such ‘accidents’ it would be wise to take certain preventive actions. They include eliminating all cockroaches, flies, rats and other scavengers from the restaurant; cleaning tables and utensils at regular intervals. One of the good hygienic practices is disinfection of tables and furniture with disinfectant. Food remains and dirt on the floor from previous guest/s is the last thing that your new guest wants to see when coming in a restaurant. After each guest, floor must be cleaned up,” affirmed Amit.

“Hygiene at all levels is required. Food hygiene includes keeping the food covered at all times, keeping the meat separate from the vegetarian food, cooking vegetarian and non-vegetarian food separately, packing and labeling all the food properly, mentioning the date it has been bought or date it has been cooked for half cooked food. FIFO schedule needs to be followed i.e. food labelled at a prior date should be consumed before the food at a later date. Expiry schedule of all food should be checked properly and all expired food should be discarded,” Riya informed further.

“No food should be handled with bare hands; the personnel should always use gloves whenever touching any food material. Cutting should also be done while wearing gloves and all vegetables should be washed nicely with running water before cooking them. There should be separate chopping boards and even separate knives and choppers for vegetarian, non-vegetarian and dairy products. You can use colour codes for chopping boards and paint the handles of knives and choppers to ensure this differentiation,” Riya explained lucidly.
 
“Good sanitation in restaurants means all the water outlets of restaurants should be free flowing and not clog at any point. We should keep on getting all water inlets and outlets checked at regular intervals to ensure there is no blockage. Furthermore, all dustbins should be covered at all times. Staff should make sure they wash their hands with soap after coming back from the washroom and before touching any food,” Riya asserted further.

“Cleanliness of a restaurant also involves pest control. This pest treatment should be done using a herbal spray as far as possible. Sometimes, if it is necessary to use chemicals, they should be mild. As far as using chemicals goes, all kitchen materials should be taken out of the kitchen before spraying the pesticide,” she disclosed.

That is not all. “Raw food, especially meat and greens, should be demarcated from each other. Cross-contamination of these food products usually happens when raw meat comes in contact with food which is eaten fresh, such as salads,” Amit explained.

“In the kitchen you should wash, dry, and put away all the dishes as soon as possible. Besides, clean spills, crumbs, and messes from the stove, floors, table, and counters. When spills involve raw meat, use a disinfecting spray to clean the mess to prevent the spread of bacteria. Clear off your counter tops; clean your garbage disposal regularly; install shelf liners in your cupboards and drawers; clean the refrigerator and freezer at least weekly; sweep and mop the floors regularly,” advised Amit.

“The best way to facilitate all-round hygiene in the food and beverage section is to ensure that a professional schedule of deep cleaning is employed, and thorough reviews are conducted at regular intervals,” stated Shilpa.

“Cleanliness at restaurants and hotels depends largely on employees’ personal hygiene as well, along with the area cleanliness. To ensure employees’ hygiene is effectively monitored at all times, it is important to follow an established set of firm rules including routine cleanliness habits at the workplace, approved kitchen-wear sanitation and adequate time off for unwell staff. Also, legal documentation for cleanliness standards has to be diligently followed, maintained and monitored at all times,” Shilpa elaborated.

“Pest control is a primary factor to ensure all-around cleanliness within the hotel premises. Today, customers expect a pest-free environment as a bare minimum and thereby it is significant that a fully reliable pest control system is in place to ensure a clean record in customer experience,” Shilpa proffered.

“At Sofitel Mumbai BKC, we often measure and keep the indoor air quality in check by testing air samples from different areas within the premises, in our very own microbiological laboratory. We have also installed UV lamps in our air-conditioning and ventilation routes, as well as ozonation, a process that helps destroy harmful microorganisms through the infusion of ozone,” she disclosed.

“To attain comprehensive cleanliness, hygiene and sanitation in an F&B outlet the following steps need to be taken. Kitchen area should be kept as clean as possible with elimination of insects, flies and other pests from the outlet; there should be cleaning of the table and the surrounding areas after each guest leaves; all employees in the restaurant should be and look neat and clean; employees handling food should wear protective gloves and hairnets or hats; the culture of cleaning while working should be inculcated among restaurant employees,” conveyed Gopal.

“Below are the few practices that we implement at Novotel Mumbai Juhu Beach to help us maintain the impeccable hygiene standards at our F&B outlets. They are regular inspection of the areas like kitchen and dining area, meeting health and hygiene requirements which have been stated by the Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI), and creation of a checklist for specific cleaning duties and for performing cleaning tasks on daily basis. The checklist is kept updated, which helps ensure that proper duties are carried out according to the planner. Installation of the right form of ventilation, implementation of Integrated Pest Management Programme (IPM) under the control of a competent person, keeping the food stores and containers pest-proof, regular inspections and maintenance of facilities to prevent pests gaining access through windows, drains, vents, screens, doors, piping, roofs, etc. are other measures which we employ. We at Novotel Mumbai Juhu Beach also make sure that our employees sanitise the kitchen area/ equipment/workstation before they leave,” informed Ashish.

“Cleanliness, hygiene and sanitation should be absolute priorities in a kitchen. These measures should be adapted for keeping the restaurant kitchen a safe place to prepare food. Develop a restaurant hygiene checklist, do regular sanitisation of kitchen equipment, there should be guidelines for staff for maintaining of personal hygiene, regular inspection of kitchen areas is needed as is ensuring proper ventilation,” affirmed Nitin.

“We at Fairmont Jaipur believe that cleanliness is the key to drive a successful business related to an F&B outlet or food production unit. Attaining a clean and hygienic workplace is done through a process-based approach. Awareness on food safety and hygiene is the basic need in a kitchen which should be achieved through training of each individual working as a food handler. We can maintain cleanliness, hygiene and sanitation in kitchens by following a few simple steps. Washing of hands before starting any food preparation and also in between while working on different products to avoid cross-contamination, is necessary. Periodic cleaning of the food preparation areas and equipment should be done. This includes washing and sanitising. Providing the staff with proper training about food safety laws, about the importance of food safety and about the processes involved to keep the food safe for human consumption is necessary. Monitoring and recording of the cooking temperatures, thawing time and temperatures of storage units should be followed. Furthermore, a root cause analysis should be done for an occurrence or reoccurrence of any food complaint to know the exact cause of the problem and to avoid it totally in future,” Prasad elaborated.

“Personal hygiene has always been my top priority when it comes to employee training. We believe that without taking care of an individual's personal hygiene, one cannot maintain a clean working area. At Fairmont Jaipur, we have trained our staff to maintain their personal hygiene on priority, and also, ensure the workplace is clean and hygienic before and after every meal period. We impart substantial training to every new food handler in the team. We also have a monthly training to ensure that the staff learns more about efficient cleaning and sanitation techniques, ” Prasad informed.

About pest control too, Prasad provided logical solutions. 
“Pest controlling can be achieved by the use of physical barriers, which should be deployed to restrict any kind of pest entry from the sites identified as potential ways for pests to the food preparation area. Moreover, it is important for an organisation to get a licensed pest control agency that will use government approved chemicals and a prescribed dosage of chemicals as stipulated by the FSSAI, Govt. of India,” he stated.
 
“Simple steps taken in daily routine can help in ensuring the cleanliness of the food service outlet. These include daily cleaning and mopping of the outlet including all corners, store house, washrooms, etc., daily check of kitchen area for cleanliness of each area of cooking, cleanliness of utensils by using hot and cold water, adhering to staff hygiene checks like use of hair net, nails cut, no accessories worn, etc. Furthermore, all working machines like mixer, cone machine, oven, etc. should be cleaned timely, segregation of garbage in required bins also is necessary. All food items should always be covered at any given point of time, and tea towels should not be used for multiple tasks; each workstation should use separate tea towel for dry and wet cleaning purpose,” expressed Vrinda candidly.

“In our outlet, Becky’s Binging Bay, there is an open kitchen with a glass wherein the customer can at any point of time view the food being prepared. This works in  benefit both ways as the customer is assured of being served good food prepared in hygienic conditions, and also the kitchen personnel are always conscious to keep their respective areas clean at all times as they know the customer can watch them at any given point of time,” Vrinda aired.

Gagan also put forward some pragmatic measures to maintain hygiene and sanitation in an F&B outlet. “Do pest control at night once a week when the outlet is not operational. All food items should always be covered at any given point of time. Tea towels should not be used for multiple tasks; each workstation should use a separate tea towel for dry and wet cleaning purpose. Mystery hygiene checks of the kitchen staff and other restaurant staff should happen twice a month. Furthermore, the training of the staff on a regular basis about cleanliness should be done, and the kitchen staff should be in proper uniform with head covered in caps, and the ones required to wear gloves should have them on, all the time during work,” he articulated.

”We at Rolls Mania, Pune, have mystery audits on our staff twice a month and this routine has been very effective and result-oriented for us,” Gagan affirmed. 
We can sum up that there can be no two opinions about the absolute necessity for maintaining hygiene and cleanliness in your restaurant.

 

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