How to Stay Out of Dutch With the Health Department

Clean, clean, clean. You do it all weekend at home and then you have to do it again at work. Well, keeping a commercial bar clean is hard, but what choice do you have? Letting customers sit at a filthy bar and watching their elbows stick on the bar top is unacceptable. People naturally presume that if the front of the house is unsanitary, the same is true for the back of the house — including the kitchen.

Maintaining sanitation standards behind the bar is hardly glamorous. The same thing can be said of the stale-beer smell and hanging glasses coated in dust. You don’t want a health inspector to take matters into his own hands. If that occurs, there will be plenty of time to catch up on the cleaning while the front door is shut for a few days.

So, in an effort to keep America beautiful, here’s our Top 10 list of ways to stay out of Dutch with the health department.

1) Clean the soda-gun nozzle. The beverage gun nozzle — along with the holster it sits in — is a veritable breeding ground for bacteria and slime. It’s the first thing a health inspector will check behind the bar. CleanHanging glasses and soak the guns nightly.

2) Don’t stack glassware. Stacking glasses may be space efficient, but it doesn’t permit air to circulate inside, which is a health-code violation. It often leads to glasses developing a musty, dank odor. 

3) Keep your hands clean. Bacteria typically are spread through physical contact, and hands are the chief culprits. Washing your hands may not sound exciting, but it does the trick.

4) Maintain proper cooling temperatures. Thermometers must be placed conspicuously in all coolers and refrigerators. A rise in temperature may cause bacteria to breed and puts the products stored in the cooler at risk.

5) Keep floor drains clean. Floor drains are a necessary evil. However, when they’re allowed to become filthy, they become an ideal breeding ground for bacteria and can produce foul odors. Ice

6) Don’t handle the ice. Only ice sculptors and figure skaters are excused from directly touching ice. The health department considers ice a food substance, and it must be treated as such.

7) Keep equipment clean. Aside from being unsightly, dirty blenders and equipment pose a health hazard and can be expected to have a shorter useful life.

8) Standing drain water in coolers. Condensation trays located at the bottom of coolers and refrigerators pool with stagnant water, the perfect growing condition for bacteria.

9) Use caution when handling glasses. Bartenders should only touch the bottom half of a glass. Touching the top half — close to where people drink from — can contaminate it with bacteria. Likewise, using a glass as an ice scoop is a both a health-code violation and a potentially dangerous practice.

10) Post a cleaning schedule. Let the bartenders know what they’re expected to clean each shift. When it’s spelled out in black and white, accountability can’t be far behind.

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