The 5 biggest hygiene sins in the kitchen

Every restaurateur knows that cleanliness is the be-all and end-all in the kitchen. Hygiene sins often happen not out of ill will, but out of carelessness or ignorance. Many a supposed hygiene measure turns out to be the exact opposite on closer inspection. Such misunderstandings are to be cleared up in this guide.

Drei scheiben Fleisch auf einem Schneidebrett mit einem Kochmesser mit rotem Griff

These hygiene mistakes happen most often

Despite an existing HACCP concept and thorough kitchen cleaning, errors that can endanger food safety are discovered time and again during food hygiene control.

Eine Hand in weißen Handschuhe in "Daumen nach oben"-Haltung

1. Wearing protective gloves

"If I wear gloves, then I work hygienically". This opinion is widespread and unfortunately only partially true. The biggest mistake that is made is that the same gloves are worn for different types of activities. If the same gloves are used to process raw meat, collect money, clean the workplace with the cleaning cloth and take out the garbage in between, the gloves become a germ sling and have clearly missed their original purpose.

So: there is nothing to say against handling food with bare hands, as long as they are cleaned and disinfected. If gloves are worn, then only for a very specific activity (e.g. for breading cutlets). When the activity is finished, the gloves must be removed and discarded.

Schneidebrett mit Kochmesser und drei scheiben Fleisch

2. Cross contamination via cutting boards

Cutting boards can be used for a variety of activities. However, it is important to remember that anything done on a cutting board will leave a mark there. Even if the board is visually clean because you have washed it, pathogenic germs may have taken up residence there. If different foods are processed on the same board (e.g. raw meat, raw fish, raw poultry, raw vegetables, or raw chicken eggs), the different germs are transferred from one food to the other.

The common mistake of opening cardboard boxes (e.g., containing frozen goods) on the countertop or cutting board that may have been on the floor elsewhere can also contribute to significant surface contamination. The rule is "food must be protected from contamination." Therefore, work surfaces must be intermediately cleaned and disinfected as necessary when changing activities. In addition, cutting boards should be replaced in between whenever possible.

Our tip

Use different colored cutting boards for the different activities, for example red for raw meat and blue for raw fish. In this way, cross-contamination can be avoided.

Reinigungsmittel mit Sprühkopf vor Edelstahlküchenzeile

3. Use of cleaning sponges and sponge cloths

Cleaning sponges and sponge cloths are capable of contributing to the cleaning of surfaces. However, if handled incorrectly, they can also cause massive microbiological contamination of a previously only lightly soiled surface.

Sponges and sponge cloths, in order to ensure the greatest possible absorbency, have a very large surface area. This surface allows bacteria to settle there in large numbers. Since sponges are generally used to clean away "dirt", they also ensure that the living conditions for bacteria are optimal. The moisture and the pleasant temperatures ensure that the germs can also multiply very quickly.

In principle, sponges and cleaning cloths should be washed daily (60°C) and replaced regularly.

Our tip

When cleaning surfaces that come into contact with food, always disinfect the surfaces with an alcohol-based disinfectant spray after cleaning. Alcoholic disinfectants have the advantage over other agents that the surfaces are not washed off with clean water after disinfection and can therefore be used again immediately.

Koch steht an Küchenzeile mit Vorbinder

4. Cleaning hands and tools on the aprons

Aprons are useful utensils for "quickly" wiping hands or knives and other utensils. It can also be regularly observed that plates or trays on which something is to be served are "polished" once again beforehand.

Cleaning with an apron can at most remove coarse dirt. However, after a single removal of dirt, it remains on the apron. From the second time, this dirt is spread over the equipment to be cleaned and additional dirt is picked up. This in turn is an optimal breeding ground for bacteria, which feel very comfortable there and multiply rapidl

Therefore, even when using aprons, it must always be remembered that the removal of dirt is usually associated with contamination with potentially pathogenic bacteria if the cloth is used several times. Therefore, use should either be avoided or, in case of doubt, disinfected afterwards with an alcohol-based disinfectant spray.

Eingeseifte Hände werden am Spülbecken mit laufendem Wasser gewaschen

5. Disinfection of hands

Many people believe that hands are clean after washing and disinfection is therefore unnecessary. However, simply washing hands is often not enough to reliably remove all germs. An example: Imagine you are taking the bus to work in the morning. It is cold season. The man next to you sneezes and holds his hand in front of his mouth. Then he grabs the grab handle on the bus again. After the man gets off, another passenger comes and holds onto the same handle. This following passenger is a cook on his way to work. Once he arrives at work, he greets his colleagues with a handshake and, after changing his clothes, cheerfully gets to work.

Even if the man washed his hands before work, the bacteria from his predecessor on the bus would still be on his hands. Therefore, hand hygiene in handling is very important and should be strictly observed. Hands must always be washed and disinfected before starting work, after breaks, after smoking, after using the toilet and after "unclean" activities, such as seasoning raw poultry meat.

For hand disinfection, it is best to use an alcohol-based disinfectant. This no longer needs to be washed off with clear water and you can continue working immediately.

Did you know? Many people are convinced that the use of disinfectants degreases the skin and therefore leads to skin diseases. However, the degreasing of the skin does not occur when disinfecting, but when washing your hands. It is best to cream your hands with a suitable skin protection cream after cleaning.