If you didn’t hear recently in the news, the restaurant “Noma” (currently holds 2 Michelin stars, and has also held the number one spot three times in the World’s 50 Best Restaurants list) had 63 diners fall ill after an outbreak of norovirus within the restaurant. This virus is spread from person to person and can indirectly be transferred through contaminated water or food.
So as you can see, in a restaurant scenario it’s a virus that can easily spread if someone working is carrying it. Washing your hands is something you can’t do enough in a restaurant (well maybe don’t scrub your skin off) but when you take a look at what we handle on a day to day basis, it really should be a a habit of yours.
Here’s what a server will have in their hands or make contact with on a shift:
- order pad
- money (this stuff is really dirty)
- food scraps (sometimes when clearing tables or at the dish pit)
- guests debit/credit cards
- polishing cloths
- napkins (dirty and clean)
- straws (dirty and clean)
- sometimes you will scratch/blow your nose, adjust your hair etc
- drink trays
- bill folds
- debit terminals
- computer terminal (POS machine)
- bits and pieces from visiting the washroom (let’s keep it PG)
- other people’s hands from high fives, handshakes, thumb wrestling etc
- cigarettes (for the smokers out there)
- tables and chairs
- salt and pepper shakers
I’m sure there are plenty more, but this is what I can think of from the top of my head right now. Although some of the items mentioned above may not seem to be at high risk of spreading a virus (like a polishing cloth), what you have to think about is how many people used that polishing cloth before you did? did they wash their hands before? have they scratched their head or been to the washroom?
This may all sound a little dramatic, and perhaps a little paranoid, but what is important to remember is that you should be doing this not for the sake of everyone else (go ahead call me selfish) but you need to look out for your own health first. This is where the selfish part takes a turn, if everyone was to look out for themselves by washing their hands regularly to help minimize the chances of spreading a bug or virus, then there would be less of a concern of making others sick.
I asked some questions a while ago to a friend who works in the public health sector, and is responsible from time to time of doing restaurant health inspections. You can check out what she had to say in the blog post “Restaurant health and safety”.
Once you start to consciously remember to wash your hands frequently while working, after some time it will just become a habit that you don’t even have to think about.
Keep it clean peoples!