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Restaurant hygiene challenges


What impact have issues such as social media and enhanced transparency had on restaurant hygiene? Jeremy Bennett from Essity considers whether the internet age is making life difficult for restaurants or driving up standards for diners – or both.


When eating out in a restaurant, we once used to accept the fact that all our food would be prepared behind closed doors. The kitchen was strictly out of bounds to the public and our first glimpse of the food we were about to eat would be on the waiter’s tray.


After perhaps a cursory look at our meal we would begin tucking in, and we would take it on trust that all our food had been prepared in sanitary surroundings by staff who practice good hand hygiene.


But today’s restaurant practices are very different. It has become increasingly common for establishments to provide a viewing window on to the kitchen so that diners can watch their food being prepared. The fact that staff are constantly on show puts them under greater pressure to wash their hands frequently and to keep all surfaces clean and uncluttered.


When our food arrives, many of us now choose to photograph our meal and share the images with friends or even upload them onto social media – particularly if a dish has been presented in an unusually attractive way. This creates further pressure on kitchen staff to ensure that every meal looks amazing.


Diners no longer need to take it on trust that their restaurant’s kitchen is clean and hygienic. It is now all too easy for them to check out an establishment’s hygiene rating before even setting foot in the premises. The Food Standards Agency rating scheme, set up more than 10 years ago, requires all food outlets in England, Wales and Northern Ireland to undergo a hygiene inspection (Scotland has its own scheme).


Businesses are assigned ‘stars’ based on the overall cleanliness of their facilities and how the food is handled,


56 | FOOD HYGIENE AND STEAM CLEANING


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