One popular way for grocery stores to increase business is to add hot food bars and salad bars, creating the ideal carryout spot for workers looking for a quick and satisfying lunch. While this can certainly increase your bottom line, it also adds significantly to the issue of grocery store cleanliness. Food service areas naturally have higher cleanliness requirements than ordinary grocery store shelves because the foods are out in the open and can easily be contaminated. From your employees to your customers to the food itself, the ways that food bars can become contaminated are surprisingly diverse.
Employees without proper training can end up contaminating the same food service areas they set out to clean. Cleaning methods can get rid of germs, but if not performed correctly, they can also end up creating a worse contamination problem. Employees should be taught to spray the cleaner onto a rag before wiping counter surfaces instead of spraying directly onto the counter or food bar. Airborne cleaning chemical droplets can travel a surprising distance before depositing themselves in open food containers. Your custodians should fold their cleaning towels multiple times, unfolding and refolding them as needed, to ensure that a clean portion of the towel touches each surface they wipe down.
Face it, no one's being very careful when they arrive in a rush, seeking a quick meal before they go back to work. Customers are likely to spill foods on the counters and floors, and most of them won't take the time to clean them up. Spilled dressings can be tracked into other aisles of the store, creating a slip-and-fall hazard. Dripping food containers can drop food throughout the store. The best way to prevent these messy situations is by being proactive. Make it easy for customers to serve themselves in a tidy manner by providing large utensils and wide-mouthed carryout containers. Clean the floors at regular intervals. Have your employees clean the food stations every half hour, or sooner if needed, to keep the surfaces clean. And always use food-service-safe cleaning supplies when cleaning your hot food bars and salad bars.
Food Bar Products
Sometimes the foods you sell lend themselves to easy cross-contamination. In a case in Milwaukee, as reported by the Marler Clark law firm, ground beef was prepared near ingredients meant for the salad bar, resulting in an E. coli outbreak. In salad bars with multiple small items, some foods can drop into others, which can create a danger to customers with food allergies. The best way to prevent this from happening is by providing the right utensils for each item and monitoring the situation. Keep a supply of tongs, ladles, and large spoons at the ready, and provide gloves and tissue sheets at all food stations for customers' use.
For more information on grocery store cleanliness, click here.