Dec 18

Burger Van Cleaning

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Countless articles have been written on advice and cleaning tips for restaurants and general catering establishments. However, there are many different types of food providers in the market place and mobile catering units seldom get a mention.

The organisation of a unit is often more difficult than operating a shop. Think about it. At your local take away you probably have several freezers, storage cupboards, constantly running water and flour and potato sacks and a host of appliances such as fryers, kebab machines, fridges, electronic tills. Within the confines of mobile catering all this has to be micro managed. You have less space, you must take the exact amount of stock for a days work and you have to be very careful about how you work from a health and safety perspective in such a small confined space. I admire anyone running a burger van or fish and chip shop mobile catering unit. They have to be very organised.

Since this website deals with tips and cleaning information you are probably wondering why burger vans should be in a category of their own? Well, they may not use cleaning and hygiene products that are any different to those which restaurants may use. However, they are more likely to use trigger sprays and ready to use cleaning agents simply because they have little storage space for tubs of concentrates.

Powerful cleaning products are needed for this kind of business. Within the confines of small spaces you don’t want to be messing around with low quality cleaning materials when time means money. At the end of a shift you want to be able to clean up and drive off.

In the top right hand side of the photo shown here you can see a string of trigger sprays all lined up ready to use. Closer inspection shows that this particular company are using Chemex, a West Midlands based company that is known for its powerful commercial cleaning agents.

Dec 17

FOG Treatment

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You are what you eat as they say. Your drains might suffer from what you don’t eat. Every day across the UK, thousands of catering establishments pour fats, oils, greases ( FOG ), and other organic waste materials straight down the sink. There are fairly hefty penalties now in the UK for polluting the drainage systems and sewers but legislation aside it could end up being expensive in plumbing costs.

Every time fat or grease is swilled down the drain with hot or warm water it solidifies as it moves through the pipes and cools down. Eventually it lines the inside of the drains and narrows the pipes. This in turn leads to an inefficient system with a potential flooding disaster in the making.

FOG is the word used to describe fats, oils and grease and its associated drainage issues. High levels of FOG can cause bad odours, become a health risk and lead to flooding. Much of the problem can be avoided by careful attention to dish washing, using drain strainers and chemicals or enzymes to prevent or unblock clogged drains.

Dec 17

Enzymatic Drain Cleaner

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Chemical and enzymatic drain cleaners are very easy to use. They are also fast acting and effective in clearing up drain blockages. In most cases there is no need to call out a plumber or use expensive equipment to clean the drains. However, it is important to understand your drain system and the sewer into which your waste flows. Using the wrong chemical drain cleaners can cause damage and even personal injury. Since commercial chemicals are stronger that their domestic counterparts you are advised to seek advice or at the very least - follow the manufacturers recommendations carefully.

Enzymatic drain cleaners help to remove obstruction or any restriction in the system. Their use can actually prevent problems in the first place since they tend to prevent blockages taking place. Blockages in catering establishments are generally caused through fat and grease deposits getting into the system.

Enzymatic drain cleaners react with organic material. They are non corrosive and contain bacterial cultures which break down fats and greasy deposits in the drainage system. These types of drain cleaners were originally used in septic tanks before their wider use as an effective and less environmentally damaging way of drain clearance or prevention from blockages.

Enzymatic drain cleaners are often used in conjunction with specialist equipment such as grease traps.

Dec 17

Bactericidal Hand Soap

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Bactericidal hand soap is specially designed for busy environments and particularly important in schools, catering establishments, leisure centres, hospitals, nursing homes and any communal areas where large numbers of people gather.

Bactericidal Hand Soaps are different to normal soaps in that they help to control the transmission of bacteria and any contamination. They clean but they also sanitise. There is a wide range of bactericidal products in the market place. Some are more stronger than others, many are fragranced, and they are generally all designed to be kind to the hands.

In large establishments the method of dispensing soap is normally via wall mounted dispenser units. However, they can also be purchased in small easy to handle containers with pumps fitted as shown in the photograph that goes with this article.

Soaps are a mixture of fats and oils which in themselves are of animal or vegetable extract. A wide range of different soaps exist. For instance dermatological soaps contain detergents and have good antibacterial properties. An antibacterial soap will remove most forms of bacteria from the skin.

Dirty hands can carry a wide range of microorganisms. E.coli, Salmonella and Hepatitis A virus are just some of the pathogens that can all be transmitted through poor hand hygiene.

Dec 16

Oven Cleaning Tips

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Commercial oven cleaning is a chore that we could all do without. However hard we might try our ovens will need cleaning from time to time. You can prolong the time between cleans by simply being careful with spillages but in the end you will just have to resign yourself to the fact that your oven needs a good clean.

Many of the newer ovens are constantly cleaning themselves. They simply require a quick wipe over with a washing up liquid at the end of each day. Self cleaning ovens are also fairly common but many restaurants still use conventional ovens which require a lot more elbow grease. However, since we are not talking about domestic ovens there is no need to worry too much about calling in specialists to do the job. Commercial cleaning products these days are superb. Just make sure you buy the best you can obtain as anything else is just false economy.

Since commercial cleaning products are much more powerful than the domestic ones you will need to make sure you follow any manufacturers recommendations carefully. Generally speaking you should wear gloves to protect your hands. Due to the fumes given off by some chemicals you should only carry out this exercise in a well ventilated room. Make sure all doors and windows are open.

With domestic cleaners you are often instructed to leave the cleaner overnight or for several hours. You will then spend time scrubbing and rinsing to ensure that all the dirty deposits are removed and that the oven is thoroughly clean. Thankfully, with a good commercial oven cleaner you can have the job completed in double quick time. With some of the better quality products you can literally see the grime and smoke stains literally fade away.

One such product available from Chemex is a heavy duty degreaser and decarboniser. It is purely for professional use only so it is not widely available to the general public. The product is highly effective for removing burnt on grease, smoke and all carbon deposits. It works extremely quickly.

Dec 16

Infection Control

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Hospitals in the UK have dedicated infection control teams which develop policies and procedures to ensure an effective infection control programme. Their prime aim is to reduce the risk of infection.

Hospitals can actually be quite prone to infections. Taking into account the number of visitors, patients and staff in any hospital establishment it is not difficult to understand how viruses and harmful bacteria can be present.

A comprehensive infection control programme will cover intravenous drips, surgical equipment and thorough cleansing of operating theatres to ensure that any infection is kept to a minimum. Doctors wear masks when in the operating theatre, gloves to ensure that bacteria cannot be passed on to their patients and particular care is taken with regard to regular hand hygiene.

The press are quick to point out the dangers of MRSA and Norovirus and we have all heard about instances on the news where hospitals have been held liable for negligence in certain aspects of infection control.

All hospitals need to keep auditing records designed to ensure that the hospital policies and guidance is adhered to. The closure of a ward or several wards can cause serious disruption to any hospital and the financial implications can be nothing short of disasterous, often creating a backlog of patients and serious issues with existing patients who may need to be seperated from others due to acquiring an infection.

As a visitor to any hospital you have a moral duty to make sure that you follow advice with regard to hand hygiene and no one should visit a hospital without consultation if they have a contagious disease, flu symptoms or any other afflication that my cause harm to others.

The most effective way of preventing the spread of infection in hospitals is actually hand hygiene. This is why hospitals provide regular hand hygiene points which staff, patients and visitors alike are expected to use. Alcholic gel is the most common form of hand cleansing. It is more effective than soap and water and is designed to kill a wide range of germs that can be present on your hands.

Dec 16

Oil Disposal Tips

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Oil is a terrible form of pollution. We have all heard about tanker accidents at sea causing devastation on coastlines which then takes years to clean up. However, did you know that one litre of oil can pollute a million litres of fresh drinking water?. Its true. The Environment Agency has set up an oil care campaign to help oil users to dispose of oil responsibly. Their website can be found at

When oil reaches water it doesn’t sink to the bottom. It just floats on the surface. When large spillages occur it forms a film on the surface of the water which affects fish, birds and animals that come into contact with it. In the UK heavy fines are imposed for oil pollution offences. All waste oil needs to be disposed of carefully and that includes burning of waste oil which in itself causes air pollution.

Oil can find its way into the sewer system simply by irresponsible car owners carrying out an oil change and pouring the contents down a nearby drain. Oil storage tanks can leak and oil can contaminate the soil and eventually find its way to the water table. There is really no excuse for this type of pollution. If equipment is properly maintained and used oil is disposed of correctly it can be recycled and be useful rather than detrimental. You can find the location of the nearest used oil bank by simply ringing 0800 663366.

Apart from the obvious dangers of oil pollution leakage can occur from faulty vehicle fuel tanks, spillages on petrol station forecourts and leakage from power boat motors. Garage forecourts or maintenance bays often use an appropriate product to absorb oil spillages. This tends to come in the form of granules for liquid spillages and has highly absorbent properties.

Dec 16

Washroom Services

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Washroom services in larger establishments are generally provided by commercial cleaning suppliers. You don’t always have to pay for the installation of sanitary disposal units or components. Quite often a reputable provider will allow you to hire the dispensing equipment rather than go to the expense of purchasing it. So long as you continue to buy chemicals from the company you don’t have to pay for the equipment. This is a very cost effective way of getting your establishment kitted out properly.

Washroom services covers the whole spectrum of personal hygiene in washrooms. Sanitary and nappy disposal units, collection of waste, installation of air freshener units and paper dispensers are often all part of the service from a professional contractor. If you are lucky the provider will actually ensure that you are regularly stocked up and will even replace batteries in air fresheners and provide attractive toilet roll and soap dispensers.

Providing a quality washroom environment for your customers and staff should be a priority. Your establishment will be judged by the cleanliness of its washroom facilities. You really do owe it to your visitors.

A washroom can become a breeding ground for bacteria. We have all heard about MRSA and Norovirus and other contagious dieseases that can often be narrowed down to places of poor hygiene. Imagine going to a luxury restaurant, having an excellent meal and then being subjected to poorly attended toilets with bad hygiene control. How much of a recommendation will you give them if you are ill the very next day?

In the UK the Environmental Protection Act of 1990 places a duty of care upon organisations to ensure that any waste produced on any premises is properly managed right up until its point of final disposal.

The law is particularly clear with regard to disposal of all types of waste. Essentially, you must store it safely and securely and prevent it from causing pollution and harm to anyone. This means that sanitary dressings and nappy waste requires a discreet and professional service.

A full washroom service by a recognised provider will give you peace of mind and help you to meet the stringent regulations. Some contractors or suppliers even provide wall charts, staff training and all relevant documentation to ensure the smooth operation of washrooms.

So, next time you enter a catering establishment, whether it be a simple cafe or luxury restaurant, observe how well it has been cleaned. Is it free from bad odours, clean and hygienic and with adequate dispensers and hand towels or drying machines? What price do you put on your personal hygiene? What value does a restaurant have if it cannot even provide the most basic requirements of a safe and clean washroom?

Dec 16

Norovirus Outbreak

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An article in the Daily Express on 16th December 2008 has highlighted the dangers of millions of people being ill with the winter vomiting bug Norovirus.

Many hospital wards have had to close to any new patients with a leading London hospital having to turn away emergency calls due to being overwhelmed with the virus.

As we near Christmas and the New Year we risk a higher level of infection rates than at other times. With Christmas celebrations and large numbers of families meeting up with relatives the risks are worse than at other times. Hospitals could reach breaking point. Christmas and New Year are traditionally very busy times for hospitals. The recent cold weather and the threat of colds, flu and norovirus are particularly dangerous for the elderly, children, and those who are already ill.

The report goes on to quote several instances of near crisis in some hospitals with no available beds and a spate of ward closures. At least 21 hospitals have had to isolate patients. Worst affected appears to have been the Royal Devon and Exeter Hospital which had to close all its 49 wards due to the virus. The full detail of the Daily Express report can be seen at

West Midlands company Chemex have a product called Antibak which is effective against Norovirus and which has already given the NHS a powerful weapon to combat a full range of superbugs. The Antibak powder was recently used successfully in Berkshire where eight wards were closed due to the Norovirus outbreak. Antibak was used in the afternoon and by the evening tests showed the wards to be completely clear.

In Lincolnshire at the Pilgrim Hospital in Boston a ward which had been closed for a long period was re-opened by using the Antibak product.

More recently Antibak has been used extensively in the deep cleaning of ambulances.

Dec 16

Grease Disposal Tips

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In the UK it is illegal to allow any substance which may pollute or block the free flow of water into the sewage system. This mans any drain or sewer which is connected to the public sewage systems. When it comes to catering establishments this includes oils and grease.

With hefty fines and ever tightening food hygiene regulations it is imperative that businesses ensure that the right procedures and, if necessary, equipment, is installed to prevent fats and oils getting into the system.

The problem stems from the temptation to wash down cooking utensils and crockery in hot water, thus diluting the grease and fats into a convenient liquid which magically washes away. However, once it starts its journey down the pipes it cools, solidifies and lines the pipe walls with congealed fat, eventually over time causing blockages in the system.

There is the additional problem of bad odours, pollution in the local water courses and of course the inconvenience of having to call out a plumber and the associated costs.

In the UK there are approximatley 200,000 sewer blockages and pollution incidents, the majority being caused by fat, oils and grease. Rat infestation and flooding is also a major problem where drains and sewers are not maintained properly.

There are some very simple procedures that can protect your catering establishment from these problems:

- Wipe and scrape all crockery, pans and cooking utensils prior to washing up and place waste in the bin

- Avoid too much oil and grease in the washing up water

- Under no circumstance allow pouring of oil, fat or grease down the sink

- Always use strainers to avoid waste going down the sink

- Waste oils should be collected by a licensed waste contractor

There are a number of companies that can install efficient systems such as grease traps which are designed to stop oils, fats and grease getting into the system.