Hygiene Tips for Your Business: Restaurants

restaurant hygiene, restaurant hygiene checklist, cleanliness, cleaning restaurants food, kitchen, health, food sanitation, rules restaurant, restaurant sanitation

Updated on June 16, 2023

Elevating Hygiene Standards in Your Restaurant

In the bustling world of the restaurant industry, maintaining impeccable hygiene standards is paramount. Not only does it ensure the health and safety of your patrons, but it also significantly impacts your restaurant’s reputation. From the kitchen to the restrooms, every corner of your establishment contributes to the overall dining experience.

Every year, Health Canada and the Public Health Agency of Canada estimate that between 11 and 13 million Canadians suffer from illnesses caused by foodborne bacteria, many of which are linked to restaurant dining. These alarming statistics underscore the importance of stringent hygiene practices in the restaurant business.

This article delves into the critical aspects of restaurant hygiene, providing a comprehensive restaurant hygiene checklist to help you uphold cleanliness in your establishment. We’ll explore the importance of hand hygiene, surface cleaning programs, and maintaining restroom hygiene.

We’ll also discuss the food sanitation rules that require someone at your restaurant to ensure compliance, and how to check the sanitation score of a restaurant.

Moreover, we’ll delve into the reputational implications of hygiene, emphasizing the importance of maintaining a clean kitchen and adhering to health department regulations. We’ll also discuss how to prevent foodborne illnesses, a common concern in the restaurant industry.

So, are you ready to elevate your restaurant’s hygiene standards and provide a safe, enjoyable dining experience for your patrons? Let’s dive in and explore the best practices for restaurant hygiene.


People love to treat themselves to a dinner at their favorite restaurant or to take the time to catch up with an old friend over lunch at a cafe. While everyone has different tastes in food, they can all agree that food poisoning is the worst consequence of having a meal out. Health Canada and the Public Health Agency of Canada estimate that between 11 and 13 million Canadians suffer from illnesses caused by foodborne bacteria every year, many of which cases go unreported.

What is a Foodborne Illness?

A foodborne illness is a sickness that is caused by germs in food. It becomes an outbreak when two people or more have the same symptoms after eating in the same place. In food establishments, 89% of foodborne illnesses are caused by contamination from workers.

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How to Prevent Foodborne Illnesses

The National Restaurant Association recommends these five practices to avoid cross-contamination and foodborne illnesses from occurring:

  1. Provide hygiene standards regarding personal and hand hygiene, glove use, maintaining work attire, appropriate hair and jewelry, and sick policy to your employees. Ensure that everyone understands and follows the rules.
  2. Hand washing is critical to avoiding cross-contamination, staff should be taught how to do it properly and when it is necessary.
  3. Separate equipment and utensils based on the type of food they will come into with and keep them clean.
  4. Sanitize all of the equipment and surfaces after each use.
  5. Consider using semi-prepared food when it is possible. Less handling will decrease the chances of contamination.

How to Maintain Your Restaurant Hygiene

Encourage Hand Hygiene in Your Kitchen

A study of 321 restaurants performed by the Centers for Disease Control and the Environmental Health Specialists Network Project found that workers are more likely to wash their hands before preparing food, when they were not busy, and in establishments that had food-safety training programs and accessible hand-washing stations.

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) requires adequate hand washing facilities in every kitchen with soap and hand drying available at all times. Equipping these areas with touch-free appliances is the safest option, as these appliances minimize cross-contamination. Hands-free washroom fittings such as faucets, hand dryers and soap dispenser units will allow staff to seamlessly move through the hand washing process. This study also found that the busier working conditions are, the less likely employees are to wash their hands. A solution to this problem could be commercial hand sanitizers that is E2-USDA approved for repetitive use in food service. It just takes 15 seconds for workers to kill bacteria, viruses, and other pathogens on their hands.

Implement a Surface Cleaning Program at Your Restaurent

Cleaning surfaces after each use is just as important as frequent hand washing. According to the National Restaurant Association, surfaces used for food preparation must be cleaned and sanitized each time a working surface is going to be used for a different kind of food. ServSafe recommends removing food scraps, cleaning each area with soap and water, and then sanitizing.

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The FDA requires that employers provide cleaning supplies and keeps them in a convenient location. A wall-mounted dispenser of surface sanitizer that is USDA-approved for food and non-food contact surfaces and paper towel dispenser may fulfill these requirements. Workers can easily access the tools they need to quickly sanitize work surfaces so they can air dry and be ready for use.

Food Hygiene Requirements and Sanitation Rules in Restaurants

Maintaining food hygiene and adhering to sanitation rules are crucial aspects of running a successful restaurant. Here are some key points to consider:

  1. Hand Hygiene: Ensure all staff members wash their hands thoroughly and frequently, especially before handling food. Consider installing touch-free appliances to minimize cross-contamination.
  2. Food Storage: Store food at the correct temperatures to prevent bacterial growth. Separate raw and cooked foods to avoid cross-contamination.
  3. Cleaning and Sanitizing: Regularly clean and sanitize all surfaces and equipment used for food preparation. This includes cutting boards, utensils, and kitchen appliances.
  4. Pest Control: Implement a regular pest control program to prevent infestations that can contaminate food and harm your restaurant’s reputation.
  5. Staff Training: Provide regular food hygiene training for your staff. Ensure they understand the importance of food safety and the role they play in maintaining it.
  6. Health Inspections: Be prepared for regular health department inspections. These inspections assess your adherence to food safety regulations and can impact your restaurant’s sanitation score.
  7. Waste Management: Dispose of waste promptly and correctly. Regularly clean and sanitize waste storage areas to prevent pests and bacteria.
  8. Restroom Hygiene: Maintain clean restrooms for both customers and staff. A clean restroom reflects positively on your restaurant’s overall hygiene standards.
  9. Maintaining Washroom Hygiene – The kitchen is not the only place where hygiene matters. Restrooms must be kept clean for customers too. Patrons often believe that the bathroom is a reflection of the kitchen. After using unsanitary facilities at a restaurant, guests may believe that the kitchen is equally unkempt.

In a survey, one third of participants said they would never return to an establishment with unclean restrooms and half of them would warn friends and family about their experience. It is not just the appearances that matter though, as smell is also a factor.

Another study found that 66% of individuals avoid businesses with restroom odor. This is especially important for restaurants, as hunger will heighten individuals’  abilities to smell. Clean bathrooms are just as important to retaining customers as clean kitchens are for serving them safe food.

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Managing a food establishment is difficult and requires supervisors to fulfill significant hygiene needs. Sanitary kitchens are absolutely necessary for a restaurant to stay in business, and so are the washrooms. Training your staff and providing the right tools in both the kitchen and the bathroom will enable your restaurant to deliver the best service possible, even when the lunch or dinner rush starts up.

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By adhering to these Restaurant Hygiene requirements and sanitation rules, you can ensure a safe and healthy dining experience for your customers while also boosting your restaurant’s reputation for cleanliness and quality.

How to check the sanitation score of a restaurant?

Checking the sanitation score of a restaurant is an important step for consumers to ensure the place they are dining at adheres to health and safety standards. Here’s a general guide on how to do it:

  1. Local Health Department Website: Many local health departments maintain a database of restaurant inspection reports on their websites. You can search for the restaurant by name to find its most recent inspection report and sanitation score.
  2. On-Site Posting: In many regions, restaurants are required to display their sanitation score prominently on-site, often near the entrance. This allows customers to easily see the score before deciding to dine.
  3. Online Review Sites: Some online review sites and apps, like Yelp, have started including health inspection scores in their restaurant listings. This can be a quick way to check the score while you’re reading reviews.
  4. Mobile Apps: Some cities or counties have their own mobile apps where you can check restaurant health inspection scores. Check if your local health department offers this service.

Remember, the scoring system can vary by city, county, or state.

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