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At the completion of this chapter, the student should be able to:
1. Define sanitation and explain its importance to management in a dining room facility.
2. Determine where and how health regulations can be obtained for a restaurant, catering, or banquet establishment.
3. Describe acceptable cleanliness and appearance standards for employees.
4. List reasons for handling utensils, glasses, and plates by their bases or rims.
5. Explain why tables cannot be set with silverware in advance.
6. Identify the "freedoms from soil."
7. Explain the importance of a clean-looking establishment as it relates to the hospitality industry.
8. Define and explain the importance of using the Hazard Analysis Critical Control Point (HACCP).
9. Define cross-contamination and explain how it can be prevented.
KEY WORDS consumer orientation cross-contamination HACCP health department
Sanitation is "the development and application of sanitary measures for public health." (1) This simply means that when customers enter a restaurant to eat, the food and the conditions of the restaurant are clean enough so that people will not get sick from eating there. The National Institute for the Food Service Industry (NIFI) defines sanitation this way: "In the food service situation, sanitation means wholesome food handled in a hygienic environment by healthy food handlers in such a way that the food is not contaminated with disease-causing or otherwise harmful agents." (2) Sanitation refers to visual as well as physical conditions. Guests will perceive a restaurant to be dirty if the restrooms are dirty. Any positive impression a customer might have about a restaurant can be ruined by a trip to a dirty or bad smelling restroom. Countertops and other restroom surfaces breed germs that can be transferred to food or utensils by restaurant personnel. It is the responsibility of the manager to keep the restrooms spotlessly clean.
Make sanitation proactive, not reactive!
To the guests, the service person is the restaurant. If they are waited on by a person who looks dirty and unkempt, they may think that the kitchen staff is dirty and the food may not be safe to eat. The guests may be right, or they may be wrong, but their perception determines if the restaurant is clean. They are the customers, and the customers are always right. Often, if the front of the house--the physical area in which the employees serve the guests--appears to be dirty, customers believe the kitchen is dirty even though it is not. They are scared to eat at the restaurant for fear that they may get sick as the result of a dirty kitchen.
Some of the illnesses that guests pick up at restaurants are not worse than getting the flu, but others can be fatal. A simple rule to prevent food borne illness is to teach and enforce handwashing for all employees. Hands that have touched products that may be contaminated--raw chicken or beef, for example--must be washed thoroughly before handling a glass or a plate. If not, the bacteria may be transferred by the employee to that glass or plate. This can result in infecting the guest with illnesses that cause abdominal pain, diarrhea, vomiting, and chills. Salmonella and shigella are two examples of foodborne illnesses that cause these symptoms. Both of these illnesses can be prevented by good personal hygiene, which includes proper handwashing.
Who Monitors the Cleanliness of the Restaurant?
In each community in the United States, there are stringent health rules to protect the public. They have been established because, for many years, businesses lacked concern for both the cleanliness of their establishments and the safety of the food that they served to their guests. Because of this, each state has health laws that restaurant managers must abide by if they are serving the public. In many communities the restaurant must have a permit to operate, which is issued by the local health department. Once the restaurant is awarded a permit to operate, management has the obligation and responsibility to know correct sanitation practices--and to make sure all employees know and use them. In addition, the health department of the community in which a restaurant is located will conduct surprise inspections of the establishment. If the health department, when inspecting a restaurant, discovers health code violations, the restaurant could be fined and shut down.
Ask the health department for information about sanitation.
Poor sanitation practices continue to be highlighted by the media. Television shows, newspapers, and magazine articles marketed to the consuming public use their sensational reporting style to drive home the point that restaurants are not safe. The negative publicity will seriously harm the business.
Because health inspections are a matter of public record, any news organization may obtain them and publish or broadcast the results of the inspections. In many communities, the local newspapers publish the name of the food establishment, date of inspection, results of the inspection, and what steps were taken to correct any problems. Greater media attention has resulted since the heightened awareness of foodborne illnesses traced to E. coli. In New York City, the city's health department posts restaurant inspection results on the Internet. The date of the inspection along with critical violations are posted.
This media attention, in turn, has resulted in more and tougher restaurant inspections and increased public awareness. Patrons want to know how safe it is to eat in a food service establishment.
Some communities in the United States require restaurants to post the results of their most recent health inspection. The restaurants are graded with either an A, B, or C rating. Los Angeles County in California, Josephine County in Oregon, and the state of Alaska all list numerical grades on their respective Web sites, and restaurants have to post their grades either at their front doors or inside their establishments. (3)
Canada has also been affected by the public's desire to know about the cleanliness of restaurants. A proposal for a rating system in Toronto would require color-coded inspection signs to be posted at the entrance of the restaurants. A restaurant that passed inspection would post a green sign; yellow would be for conditional passage; and red for failure. How Improper Sanitation Practices Can Devastate Your Business For a special party, the host ordered pastries from a specialty restaurant. The pastries were cream-filled. When the host got home, the pastries were placed out in direct contact with the sun, instead of being refrigerated. …

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