#9 How NOT To KILL Your Customers: Tea Towel
#9 How To KILL Your Customers : Tea towels
I apologise in advance if I put you off eating out.
Chefs often have a tea towel hanging from their waist. To dry their fingers, to dry a plate, or handle hot equipment.
Similarly bar tenders, silver service waiters and cocktail mixologists, use cloths for presentation and to dry wet hands.
I have witnessed a chef disinfect a surface with all the appropriate steps after preparing fish (big whole fish into portions). Then the drenched tea towel, which had been tucked in his pants, was hung over a rack of chopping boards to dry. The tea towel did indeed smell fishy.
Service staff polish glasses, cutlery and display/serving plates or silverware with towels. They dip the items in hot water straight from a dishwasher tray and dry, it avoids water marks.
I’ve seen first-hand the food debris on these items. They have been “disinfected” in the dishwasher (both with heat and disinfectant/detergent chemicals) but if they weren’t prewashed (sprayed clean) or stacked well, it collects the run-off (water with food residue in it).
In a busy kitchen where there may be a shortage of plates, glasses or service-related equipment (tongs, spoons, trays) during service, often the equipment is dried with a tea towel because there's no time for air drying, despite the equipment being extremely hot.
Plastic also cools too quickly for evaporation, so all the plastic containers end up wet, and are often stacked inside each other.
The tea towel undoes the work of the dishwasher.
Items going into a commercial dishwasher must be pre-washed/rinsed (over a tray/sink the food is sprayed off). Dishes with dried on food e.g., eggs, custard, gravy, mash potatoes etc remained dirty after prewash and the dishwasher. It has to be put through again, but that’s only if its visible/obvious. It relies on the user/people.
It’s also important to separate hand towels and tea towels. Most commercial food businesses should have disposable paper towels for handwashing. I see people wash their hands and then wipe it on their trousers, apron or that pesky tea towel in the waist band.
Gloves reduce how often staff washed their hands as they feel cleaner than without gloves. If they are e.g., assembling burgers, they wanted dry hands in order to avoid wetting the burger bun. So they have a juicy apron/tea towel on all day, adding an invisible residue to every burger bun.
Beware the deadly tea towel.
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