Monday, June 27, 2011

What does it take to have hygienic eateries?

IF you have your breakfast out of home most of the mornings, do take a good look at your drink before you take a sip. The next time your order of Nescafe or teh tarik arrives, scrutinise it-especially the glass or mug it is served in.

What you discover could make you think twice of patronising the popular stall you have been frequenting — just like the guy I encountered at the always-packed restaurant in Sentul last week. I was already about to finish my weekly treat of thosai when a commotion across the table next to mine caught my attention.
A customer had just taken his first sip of teh tar ik when he called out to the waiter who had just served him. The customer spotted a lipstick stain on the rimof the glass mug and pointed it out to the waiter. The latter, who was a new face at the restaurant, did not appear to understand what he wanted.

When complaint turned into commotion, the supervisor who was manning the cash register rushed in to intervene, only to receive an earful from the angry customer. Apologising, the supervisor explained that the worker, a migrant, had just started work and did not understand the local lingo. To appease the angry man, the supervisor reprimanded the waiter in his own language as another waiter was gestured to change the customer’s drink.

As the supervisor calmed the man down, the drink was brought promptly to the drink station. The drink maker, who was hidden from the customer’s view by a boiler, merely poured the drink into a new glass and the tea was brought back to the customer. As the customer started tucking into his breakfast and sipping in his tea, I lost my appetite for mine.

Ever wondered how many restaurants in the city are concerned about hygiene these days? If the City Hall’s enforcers were to conduct daily checks on all eateries in the Klang Valley, especially on the understaffed 24-hour restaurant chains, chances are that city folk would have to starve for weeks. Many outlets would have to be closed down for a week of cleaning up.

Food preparation hygiene is being compromised daily and we have been fortunate not to have a large-scale food poisoning case. As a microbiologist told me, the E.Coli strain that hit Europe recently, is also probably on the tables and sinks of dirty eateries and restaurants. And the reason they have not caused harm is because they had not gotten into the food chain in large numbers yet.

How difficult is it to keep plates, cups or mugs clean anyway? Immersing them into boiling water before they are used is a cheap and effective method to kill germs. But do you see any eatery doing it? There is a café near my office that uses an age-old method of sterilising its cups for any drink it prepares.

The cafe uses an old-fashioned boiler that you used to see in coffeeshops of yesteryear.

Made of stainless steel, instead of brass like its predecessor, the boiler has a long trough at the side. Cups are soaked in the simmering water in the trough whole day long, until they are needed to prepare drinks.

Back in the 1970s, many coffeeshops used this method to sterilise their cups. Unfortunately these days, you don’t see the practice any more. Even the modern cafes that boast of oldcharm ambience you see in the city have failed to incorporate this hygienic practice into their business.

No comments:

Post a Comment