Lessons from the Pro – The must follow kitchen hygiene rules during a pandemic

March 13, 2020


As the new coronavirus continues to spread worldwide, it’s very important today to maintain good hygiene in the kitchen to prevent the proliferation of viruses and bacteria and contamination between humans and food. These rules are made for Chefs in hotels and restaurants, but also for those who cook at home every day.







Transmission of viruses


Experience with SARS and MERS suggests that people are not normally infected by virus through only food as it’s the case at the moment with the COVID-19. However, our hands are one of the main ways that harmful viruses and germs are spread. Virus and microbes can be spread very easily from people’s hands to food, work surfaces, and equipment unless good kitchen hygiene rules are applied.








Hygiene rules





Food workers must wash their hands before starting work

Before handling cooked or ready-to-eat foods

After handling or preparing raw food

After handling waste

After cleaning tasks

After going to the bathroom

After blowing, sneezing or coughing

After drinking or smoking

After handling money


Remember that cleaning and disinfection are not the same things. The cleaning is made with soap and water to remove dirt and the disinfection is made with chemicals or heat to reduce germs. You have to practice both as surfaces that appear clean may still contain germs that can’t be seen.




Storing and cooking meat





Raw meat, including poultry, can contain harmful bacteria that can spread easily to anything it touches, including food, worktops, tables, chopping boards, and knives.


Don’t wash raw meat

Cooking will kill any bacteria present, if the meat is cooked well done while washing meat can spread germs by splashing.

Take particular care to keep raw food separate from ready-to-eat foods such as bread, salad, and fruit as they won’t be cooked before you eat them, so any germs that get to them won’t be killed.




The cleaning and disinfecting






Clean and disinfect frequently touched surfaces. Surfaces such as remote controls, kitchen counters, doorknobs, bathroom surfaces, glass surfaces, keyboards, tables and chairs, phones and tablets should be cleaned often.

Food contact surfaces should be washed, rinsed and disinfected after each use.

Use disposable gloves for cleaning and disinfection. Throw them away before leaving the area and wash your hands.

If you use disinfectant wipes, use them according to the directions on the package. Do not reuse the wipes to wipe multiple surfaces. Throw used wipes in the trash.

Protect your customers by keeping the toilet filled with soap and towels and a hand dryer.

Make sure that the alcohol-based hand sanitizer is available to customers, especially if there is no soap and water.

Be sure to clean and sanitize any items or surfaces that customers may touch, including toilet surfaces, menus, condiments, etc.




Microbes transmission 





To understand the principles of microbiology is fundamental to understand food sanitation. The microbes are so small that they can only be seen under a microscope. They develop in food. Some are beneficial and others are very dangerous.

Microorganisms can cause food spoilage and food borne illness.

Those that cause spoilage of food are yeast, bacteria, and mold.

Bacteria cause most food borne illnesses; however, viruses, whipworms, and protozoa can also cause food spoilage and disease. Food service managers, dietitians, and all food handlers must understand the conditions causing spoilage and foodborne illness and must also know how to prevent contamination of food during processing, transport, storage, preparation, and service.




Foodborne illness 





It’s the responsibility of any managers to develop an educational program for food service staff with a focus on:

Effective control of food temperature during storage, cooking, and preservation.

Protecting food from microorganisms, cockroaches, flies, rodents, and parasites.

Protecting food from toxic substances such as chemicals and toxic materials.

Personal hygiene and good food handling practices.









Microorganisms are classified into the following groups:

round bacteria, “Coccid” >> ooooooo

Rod-shaped bacteria, spore-free rods, and spore bacilli. ///////////////

Spiral-shaped bacteria, spirilla ~~~~~~~~

Most bacteria are harmless to humans and may even be helpful. Certain types of bacteria are important in the production of certain foods, such as sour milk, yogurt, sauerkraut, and sourdough.

Bacteria reproduce by dividing into two parts (mitosis). The fraction of the cells takes place very quickly (one to four divisions per hour) when there is adequate food and when the temperature is between 32 ° C and 41 ° C.  It doubles every fifteen minutes. About one million bacteria can be produced in five hours. They need moisture, food, and heat for growing and some bacteria need oxygen; others thrive better without air.





Bacteria differ in their dietary needs






Dry foods, such as sugar, flour, rice, and dry pastries, do not have enough moisture for bacteria to multiply. Acidic foods such as citrus fruits, tomatoes, and items made with acidic ingredients are generally not the favorite foods for bacteria. They prefer non-acidic foods rich in protein such as milk, dairy products, eggs, fish, frostings and cream.

Bacterial contamination of food can be delayed by constant and effective control of food temperature as most bacteria grow best between 10 ° C and 49 ° C and practically stop growing and multiplying at temperatures above 74 ° C and 4 ° C.

Although cold temperatures cannot kill all of them, growth can be stunted. 

The most suitable temperature for the development of pathogenic organisms is body temperature: 37ºC.

Food can be contaminated by contact with dirty hands, dirty clothes, and towels, dirty tables and utensils, dirty containers and machines.

Food contamination can also result from contact with pets, rats, mice, flies, cockroaches, insects and polluted water.

Generally, diseases transmitted in this way include Typhoid fever, Salmonella, Dysentery, Cholera, Jaundice, Tuberculosis, and Diphtheria.




The destruction of bacteria




The destruction of bacteria can be done with the use of high temperatures, boiling water from 60 to 100ºC. Immersion in the water at 82 ° C for ten minutes will already destroy a large part of the pathogens.

With the use of steam cleaning tools.

By pasteurization or sterilization of food.

By the use of chemical compounds such as chlorine, iodine or quaternary ammonium to clean and disinfect equipment and utensils.




The molds





Molds, also called fungi, are made up of many cells that need air and moisture to grow. They can develop on almost all sweet, sour, bitter, and even relatively dry foods.

There are different types of mold that with different colors; white, blue, green, pink and black. Certain molds such as certain bacteria can be good and useful for humans. Others can damage food with unpleasant odors and a musty flavor.

Good molds are used to make antibiotics, penicillin, aureomycin, and Terramycin.

Others are necessary for making cheese and bring a special flavor to blue cheese, Roquefort and camembert for example.

Some molds causing Aflatoxins can be classified as deadly poisons and can cause dangerous liver dysfunctions.

Mold formation can be avoided by controlling storage conditions and avoiding long periods of storage.

Most molds reproduce by the formation of very light spores found everywhere. They are easily transported by drafts, insects, animals, and humans. Molds can be destroyed by the same methods as those used to kill bacteria.










Yeast is a single-celled organism that absorbs food and moisture and multiplies by germinating. It’s important in the fermentation process.

Every time the yeast is brought into contact with hot temperature, air, humidity, and sugar, it multiplies and develops. Yeast is necessary to make bread, wine, and alcoholic beverages but is also used as a vitamin B supplement.

The yeast cells are very light and are often in the air. They can be identified by an alcoholic odor and the presence of bubbles.

Although a certain type of yeast can cause skin infections. Yeast is generally considered harmless to humans and is destroyed by high temperatures.






Grandson of a famous French Chef (his grandfather owned the Buffet de la Gare de Rennes, in France at the end of the 19th century), Thierry Guineau has accumulated forty years of culinary experience throughout the world. During his stay in Asia, he was recognized prodigious, draped in his jacket of Executive Chef at the Meridien of Jakarta, at the Holiday Inn Harbin China, at the Meridien of Phuket, the Sheraton Zhongshan in China, or at the Coco Beach Vietnam, to name a few. Today, he leaves in Mui Né, Vietnam and share his free time between consulting and professional training where he passes on his knowledge to the most disadvantaged.





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