Depending on where your restaurant is located, you could run into a decline in business during the summer months. This would be a great time to get a little ‘spring cleaning’ done. So pull out your last health inspection report and make sure that you have all your I’s dotted and all your T’s crossed. Don’t forget to pay extra attention to the *critical points*. This would also be a good time for the entire staff to review the dos and don’ts of getting a good score. As well as following up on procedures to ensure not only the safe keeping of food, but updating any documentations related to your particular restaurant. (e.g. HACCP, MSDS, etc.) It might be a wise idea to have a check list at each station, indicating what the employees should go over on a regular basis. (e.g. make sure to have an ice scoop, or tongs, lids, etc).
With warmer weather, you can take the shelving units out of the walk-ins and freezers to give them a good power wash. Be sure to get any and all mold removed; double check for any rust. It is also a good idea to check each item to verify that it has a label and is tightly sealed. While all the shelving units are outside you can easily scrub everything down inside the walk-in units make sure to get the corners and in-between tiles, if you have them. Double check the light bulbs and the covers for the light bulbs, as these can get very hazy and tend to go unnoticed. This would also be a good time to make sure that there are thermometers in both the walk-in/s and freezer/s and they are working properly.
Kitchen equipment, even though it’s used everyday and should be cleaned everyday, most employees tend to do a quick wipe down. Now is the time to get into all those nooks and crannies that tend to get over looked with that ‘quick’ wipe down, especially, those pesky gaskets. If they are no longer sealing properly or are hanging lose you should replace them. Additionally, if they have become too damaged and have pieces missing or holes in them, they should also be replaced. Grills should be thoroughly cleaned and free of all the build up they tend to accumulate. If you have any underlying shelving units on any equipment this would be a good time to make sure those are scrubbed clean and free of any rust or grimy build up. Another good idea, if you are moving around equipment would be to get the sides of those units, especially the units that are pushed against another unit. You never realize how much spillage there is in a restaurant or how clean things may ‘appear’ until you start moving the equipment around.
A big critical item is the hand sink areas, these tend to be over looked and can save you many points or really hurt your score if they are not kept up properly. Be sure these are stocked daily with soap and towels. It would be wise to also scrub the entire handsink down. A quick review of proper hand washing techniques for restaurant employees would not be a bad idea either. Check your local health department for the allotted amount of time required for hand washing. Don’t forget to emphasize that employees need to grab towels and turn the faucet off with those towels, not vice versa. This is an easy score, but it seems to get over looked the most too.
Sani-buckets and those darn test strips are another big issue. Get in the habit of changing those sani-buckets at least every 4 hours or if they get a lot of debris in them. It would be a good idea to inform your staff as to what kind of chemicals you use for sanitation. (e.g. iodine, bleach/chlorine, quaternary) This way they will know what test strips to use. I have had numerous customers, who aren’t sure and so they buy the top choices (chlorine and quaternary). Towels, towels, towels, how many of your cooks wear them on their aprons? They are supposed to be stored in the sani-buckets and not to be worn as attire or left on counters.