Behind every good dish and waiter service, it is difficult to imagine the great lengths to which your favorite restaurants go to ensure a clean, hygienic, safe, and healthy foodservice operation.

I have been working with hotel and restaurant clients since 1973 — a time when sanitation was not as sophisticated as today. The landscape has certainly changed as better systems took over and a greater number of cleaning chemicals emerged to address specific issues and keep customers and employees safe. And why shouldn’t systems improve? Imagine the load in foodservice operation. Utensils and plates are reused hundreds of times. Unsatisfactorily cleaned equipment is a hotbed of bacteria and insects. And according to the WHO, there are 200 kinds of diseases one can contract from unsafe food.

Cleaning agents

I cannot emphasize enough how big an issue food safety and cleanliness are these days, especially with a pandemic still going. Last year, I gave a very detailed list of tips to prevent outbreaks in your hospitality and foodservice establishments. You can read more of that here: READ: How to prevent an outbreak: A comprehensive guide.

For everyone’s reference, I have listed below 17 different cleaning agents and chemicals restaurants need for kitchen sanitation (There could be more, depending on the restaurant.) It is key to understand that each works differently from the other. Because of the sophistication and specialization of equipment and spaces in restaurants, these chemicals should not only help clean but also sanitize and disinfect.

  1. Dishwashing chemicals – You need three kinds: detergent, drying agent, and descaler
  2. Disinfectants – You need two: chlorine and non-food contact sanitizer
  3. Oven cleaner
  4. All-purpose cleaner
  5. Toilet bowl cleaner
  6. Handsoap
  7. No-rinse hand soap
  8. Glass cleaner
  9. Food warmer fuel
  10. Declogger
  11. De-stainer
  12. Soft ice cream machine cleaner, sanitizer
  13. Juice dispenser cleaner
  14. Coffee machine cleaner

Is your restaurant using all these cleaning agents?

Avoid wiping

Wiping glasses dry is a cross-contamination risk

And yet no matter how faithful you are into using these cleaning agents, you should still practice scientifically proven protocols and systems of food safety, cleanliness, hygiene and sanitation.

One common mistake that restaurants still do is cross-contamination by wiping. I see this all around: restaurant employees using a cloth to wipe wet glasses, tables, and other surfaces. A study in the UK looked into 133 washcloths from more than a hundred restaurants. They found that 56% contained “unacceptable levels of bacteria”.

Always think that cleaning is different from sanitizing and different from disinfection. (I tell this same mantra to my students in the laundry industry.)

If you have questions, please do email me at rhapolega@yahoo.com.

Stay safe and healthy!