For many, the bar is a safe zone. Free from risks of bacterial contamination and general food safety. Unfortunately, this is simply not the case. Although limited and to a lesser degree than the kitchen. The risks in the bar is much the same as the kitchen.
What do we know about food safety risks?
What are the risks in the bar?
The bar handles dairy in the form of milk and cream. Water in the form of ice, and the bar is also popular for cocktails.
In itself the mix that goes into making cocktails has a high sugar content and obviously alcohol. These, through the manufacturing process are not high risk items and very rarely show bacterial contamination.
However, the percentage of alcohol as well as the sugar content is not high enough to kill bacteria that has resulted from cross-contamination.
The bar gets sticky and dirty surprisingly quickly and easily transfers to the hands of staff. So although staff in the bar are not dealing with high bacterial load foods such as raw meats, they are exposed to the regular risks of personal hygiene.
The basic idea of scooping ice and where and how the ice scoop itself is stored is also a concern. Remember that ice does not necessary kill bacteria, and only slows or stops its growth. As soon as the germs in the ice are placed in a favourable condition, they can grow and cause contamination.
We all realise that the bar does need to be cleaned, mostly to prevent and minimize stale alcohol odours. However there are high risk equipment in the bar.
Equipment such as:
Ice scoops and basins
These are all items that come into direct contact with dairy, water and juices. All items that can be considered open to contamination.
Considering the above, it would make sense then that these are should be treated with care. This means that these areas need to be hygienically cleaned and disinfected. This would follow the basic principle of cleaning and sanitising.
Below is a video demonstration of how to clean and sanitise in the bar:
As mentioned, although bar staff are not exposed to dangerous bacteria in the normal course of their job. There is a need for clean hands. Exposure to the refuse bin, dirty cloths and counter tops are areas that encourage the growth of germs. At the very least, a hand sanitiser is needed in the bar for staff to sterilise their hands during service.
In general we find that milk, cream and juices are often left uncovered in the fridge and therefore exposed to the open environment. This means that these beverages expire a lot faster, and allow the opportunity for cross contamination. There are also a number of syrups are often left out after opening, and as per the supplier labels actually need to be refrigerated.
Fridge temperature also plays a part in the hygiene of the bar, and keeping fridges running optimally is not just important for beer temperatures. Milk and creams are also left out due to the busy conditions of the bar. And as mentioned above, milkshake and cocktail syrups are also incorrectly left out.
The idea of lemons and other fresh fruits that are increasing being added to beverages being risk-free is also a concern. The bar is usually responsible for preparing and storing these items, usually with a knife and cutting board that is never submitted for cleaning in the kitchen, and if so, usually at the end of a shift or every other day. This creates a dangerous environment for germs to grow. Needless to say, lemons are not able to kill bacteria, despite their natural anti-microbial properties. All foods are prone to contamination.
Creating awareness in the bar about the risks in otherwise neglected areas, will go a long way in developing an understanding of hygiene and food safety in the hotel, restaurant and general public environment.