Hand Washing and Toilet Facilities
Perhaps the most important activity to stop the spread of food born illness in the kitchen is proper hand washing. In order for this to take place a facility needs to not only have sinks designated for hand washing but also have those sinks fully equipped with soap and paper towels at all times and also have those sinks be accessible. A hand sink with no soap means that even if it’s being used the employees aren’t using soap when they wash their hands and that means they aren’t getting viruses and bacteria off their hands. If there aren’t paper towels to dry hands it often means employees are using a soiled cloth towel or apron do dry off their freshly washed hands, effectively negating the good work they just did. On the same note a well equipped hand sink that is blocked with dirty dishes, dishwasher racks, or some other obstacle is still useless because employees can’t get to the sink to use it. This will often lead to other sinks being used for hand washing, ones with no soap or paper towels and also sinks that are intended to be used for food preparation.
06a- Adequate Number and Location
Some kitchens are small enough to get away with one hand sink but most will require more than that. For example if the closest sink is around a corner and through a door it won’t work. Restaurant kitchens are too busy for employees to make a special trip to go “find” a hand sink. Also, wait stations where staff are scooping ice require a designated hand sink as ice is considered a food product. Another time this violation occurs is when an area that was designated to be food storage becomes an area for food preparation, often times on a different level or in a separate room, away from the main kitchen. These rooms don’t usually have a hand sink as there original intent didn’t require one. In this case a sink would need to be added or the food preparation in that area would have to stop.
In order to be effective and useful the hand sink has to be accessible. Violations most commonly seen in this section involve a sink that is blocked by a cooling rack, full of dirty dishes, or in some other manner not accessible for easy use. Due to the busy nature of restaurant kitchens this type of obstacle can discourage employees from performing proper hand washing in a designated sink or sometimes from taking part in hand washing at all. It’s usually a very easy fix but also a very critical item.
06c- Soap and Drying Devices
Soap and paper towels are essential components in proper hand washing. A quick rinse with water and a wipe on a dirty cloth towel can be worse than no hand washing at all. Soap is required to get bacteria and germs off of the hands and a clean drying material, usually paper towels, are needed to keep the hands from becoming re-contaminated during the final step. Again, the lack of these materials often leads to improper hand washing techniques and the breakdown of one of the fundamental components of food safety in the kitchen. This is one of the most commonly noted critical items during inspections.
Please contact Rachel Burmeister at 970-920-5075 with any food safety or restaurant related questions.