“A shot of faeces in your coffee, Madam?” Reiterating the far-reaching consequences of poor hygiene practise

Summer is here and for many this means long weekends of exploration, to new regions, of new traditions and, of course, new cuisine. You visit somewhere different, immerse yourself in the local culture… and then head to that familiar coffee shop chain for your trusted Iced Macchiato— “the safe option” right!? Or so you like to think…

Hitting the headlines last week was not just one, but three major coffee shop chains for having a faecal bacteria present in their ice. Starbucks, Caffé Nero and Costa were all found to have concerning levels of this bacteria in their ice at multiple branches that were tested.  The BBC news website quotes Mr Lewis, of the Chartered Institute of Environmental Health, as saying that these kinds of bacteria were “the source of human disease” and that the levels found were “concerning”. Despite perceptions, nowhere is immune to the risks associated with poor hygiene practise; even the UK’s biggest coffee chains (and that trusted Iced Macchiato!).

Experts state that it only takes 15 to 20 seconds of vigorous hand washing with soap and water to effectively remove bacteria which can cause infection. A seemingly simple task, yet one that appears to not be happening effectively enough. There are clear legal requirements that all food service operations must meet in a commercial kitchen environment. The law states that all commercial kitchens must provide an adequate number of washbasins, suitably located and designated for only cleaning hands. These must be provided with hot and cold running water, materials for cleaning hands and for hygienic drying. But simply having the minimum requirements in place, does not necessarily equate to successful outcomes. Food service operators are also legally obligated to ensure that food handlers are appropriately trained and supervised in food hygiene matters. This includes instruction on the correct use of equipment, effective handwashing practise and reinforcing the importance of handwashing.

Mechline Developments manufacture hygienic hand solutions for the food service and hospitality industry that make engaging in effective handwashing practise incredibly easy and trouble-free. One way is by reducing the need to touch taps. Electronic taps have been revolutionary in improving the hygiene in kitchen environments and The Food Standards Agency advise that ‘it is good practice to use non-hand operated taps at handwashing facilities as they reduce the risk of cross-contamination.’ With manual taps, the action of turning a tap on requires touching the tap lever or handle with dirty hands, and then revisiting the same lever or handle with clean hands to turn it off—a rather counterintuitive practise! Eliminating the need to touch taps reduces the potential of this cross contamination.

Mechline’s range of electronic taps have a built in automatic motion sensor to ensure that no manual contact is required. The water temperature and flow can be pre-set, so absolutely no contact is needed from hands to operate the tap. In addition to this, all taps with electronic controls are fitted with an antibacterial duty flush to automatically flush the device, preventing water stagnation and the potential build-up of bacteria. Furthermore, being able to set the flow for a specific time actually helps save water. It can minimise wasted water and the risk of a tap being mistakenly left on, which could result in an overflow.

Mechline also produce a range of hand wash basins, which have the option of being provided with hands-free operation via either a knee valve or push-front panel. This allows the user to refrain from touching any taps or the sink area with their hands, particularly useful after preparing raw ingredients, thus minimising the possibility of bacteria lurking. An antimicrobial additive is also embedded into the material of these basins, which make them resistant to mould, grime and mildew, all elements that you wouldn’t want present in your hand wash area.

Mechline’s solutions are designed to be simple and efficient to use, making it easy for good hygiene practise to become second nature, not an inconvenience that risks being ignored. It is paramount, however, that kitchen staff are trained correctly and understand the dangers of cutting corners.  Kristian Roberts, Marketing Manager at Mechline, comments, “handwashing may be seen as an insignificant part of an operator’s job, but this practise has significant and far-reaching consequences. We cannot stress enough how important regular and effective handwashing is. At Mechline we offer a range of products to support this best practise, but the responsibility lies with business owners to make sure the correct facilities are available and education is provided for each and every member of staff entering or leaving the kitchen.”

Mechline are happy to provide advice on how to support this best practise, which will help prevent the detrimental impact on hygiene, safety, reputation and income that can result from ineffective handwashing. For specific information on their electronic tap range, or hand wash basins, please visit the Mechline website or contact your Area Sales Representative.