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Protect your restaurant’s front-of-the-house this winter

Photograph: Shutterstock

It’s that time of year again: Employees are calling in sick, coughing and sneezing and doing their best to stay well for the flu and norovirus season ahead. Keeping restaurants clean and germ-free is a real concern for restaurant operators—and for good reason. Like germs, the word will spread fast if there’s a norovirus outbreak, and that can quickly damage an establishment’s reputation.  

For that reason, protecting the health of customers and employees is paramount. Without a good illness prevention plan in place, restaurant operators may be faced with everything from store closings and health department scrutiny to expensive decontamination services and even foodborne illness litigation.

Cleanliness is not only key to illness prevention, it is also one of the most important factors for driving traffic to a restaurant’s front door. In fact, 64% of consumers say that dishware cleanliness is very important when choosing where to dine, while 61% say the same about interior cleanliness, according to Technomic’s Consumer Brand Metrics, Q2, 2018. Additionally, Technomic’s 2018 Generational Report finds that 59% of consumers say that cleanliness is very important, even compared to other attributes such as order accuracy, friendly service or good value.

But while operators likely know the steps to keeping a restaurant’s kitchen germ-free, what about the front-of-house? As it gives guests their first impressions of an establishment, maintaining a clean and healthy front of house is key during the winter months. Here’s a look at how to protect your business.

Healthy staff and clean operations

There are many ways to protect front-of-house operations and prevent the spread of germs and illness. For example, ensure that the staff is trained on appropriate handwashing protocols and set guidelines to ensure these standards are met. While this may sound basic and routine, many people fail to wash their hands correctly and as often as needed.  It is recommended to put together a formal procedure, train staff and provide frequent reminders. Some operators may even consider instituting handwashing frequencies to be completely certain that handwashing is happening as often as it should. Employees need to understand the risks associated with contaminated hands and should work hard to minimize those risks.

Another strategy for preventing the spread of germs front-of-house is making hand-sanitizing products readily available to staff, both in the dining room as well as stationed in other high-traffic areas of the restaurant. Offer sanitizer to guests too, in the front-of-house via dispensers. Doing this shows customers that restaurant operators care about their diners’ health and well-being and want to ensure a good experience. Guests will likely make the connection that if the front-of-house is clean, that the back-of-house is, too.

Finally, operators should stress to staff the importance of staying home if they are ill. This may mean implementing a sick time policy. It may also mean that if a sick staff member comes in to work managers will have to send them home. Germs can and will spread quickly, and sick employees are not only a risk to everyone’s health, they’re also bad for business. If diners see a coughing, sneezing or otherwise visibly ill employee, they may be put off and decide not to return to the establishment.

Despite all efforts, though, germs do sometimes spread and cause sickness. In the event of contamination, use sanitizing products that are specifically designed to combat germs such as norovirus to reduce transmission. A damp rag is simply not enough for wiping down tables and other surfaces.

Responses to safety and cleanliness problems

It is important to have a good response plan in place before you are faced with a situation involving bodily fluids. For example, use sanitizers that are specifically designed to combat body-fluid dangers. They can play a key role in risk management programs and include surface sanitizer/disinfectants that are known for their ability to quickly kill and prevent the spread of norovirus. Since it’s best to identify and mitigate these issues as soon as possible, using all in one specialized kits like those from the PURELL® brand can be the difference between a one-off illness and an outbreak.  

One option to consider is the PURELL® Body Fluid Spill Kit, a complete, single-use solution designed to enable foodservice employees to quickly, easily and safely respond to accidents and spills involving bodily fluids. Choose a kit that contains a comprehensive set of components that work together to prevent cross contamination and protect guests and workers from possible foodborne illness outbreaks. Make sure the sanitizer offers rapid kill times—killing norovirus, E. coli and Salmonella in 30 seconds—as well as multi-surface performance with no rinsing required on food contact surfaces.

As flu and norovirus season kicks into high gear, keep germs at bay. It’s easy to implement these simple cleanliness strategies to protect the front-of-house, and along with it, the restaurant’s reputation.

To learn more about how PURELL™  Body Fluid Spill Kits can help prevent the spread of germs and disease in restaurants, click here.

This post is sponsored by GOJO

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