hygiene in hospitality

One lump or…none? Shunning unhygienic food offerings


A man walks into a bar, and whilst waiting to be served, helps himself to handful of complimentary nuts. Sadly, that’s where the joke ends, if you take a moment to stop and consider the nuts.

First of all, why are they there? Salty snacks and alcohol are the perfect complements. Thus, the faster the consumption of the nuts (which are relatively cheap to produce), the higher the craving for an alcoholic beverage (which, of course, has a high profit margin). Surely, it’s a no-brainer?

Here’s the problem. Those nuts are not just for you; they are there for anyone at the bar. Now think of those who have already helped themselves, or are standing next to you with hungry eyes. How many people have gone to the toilet without washing their hands, come back, and put their hands into the bowl? Still fancy some nuts?

It’s the same with unwrapped sugar. Oftentimes, sugar is simply presented loose, or as cubes, in a bowl. Or sometimes the loose sugar, or cubes, are presented in a Kilner jar to help keep it “clean”. Until you ask yourself: Have any cubes been picked off dirty surfaces whilst being filled? Are the kitchen staff following the correct hygiene procedures to prevent spreading their own germs? Washroom facilities providers have produced surveys revealing the lack of kitchen and waiting staff who wash their hands after using the toilet. It makes horrendous reading. The problem is, management simply cannot control the cleanliness of their staff.

So what else may have happened to your sugar cubes between being filled and you arriving to enjoy your beverage? Have small children had their sticky mitts in the jar to lick the cubes and put them back? Are there any flies about? It’s common knowledge that flies carry a certain number of germs, although a recent report suggests that they transmit far more than we first thought – around 600 different bacteria at the last count – many of which are linked with human infections, including stomach bugs, blood poisoning and pneumonia. We won’t even mention what they do when they land on the cubes.

So what steps can we take to protect ourselves from the potential yet invisible germs around us in public areas? For a start, we can carry a handy travel-size bottle of antibacterial gel for use after touching surfaces. And when it comes to those salty snacks, it’s probably best to resist the temptation of a free helping and opt for a freshly sealed portion instead. After all, the cost of a packet of nuts far outweighs the risk of contracting a nasty bug. And carrying your own sugar or sweetener will help solve the ‘open sugar’ dilemma.

Corporate responsibility

But it shouldn’t just be down to us as consumers. Pub landlords and restaurant owners also need to assume their role in the drive towards cleanliness, even if they can’t control the habits of their staff. One simple step they can take is to provide sugar in individual portions – for example in sticks, sachets or wrapped cubes – sealing in the freshness and keeping out the germs. Not only is it a relatively cost-effective way of preventing the risk of E. coli, enterobacteria, faecal or other contamination caused by unhygienic habits, but there are other benefits too.

Firstly, providing sugar in sealed packets shows your customers you care about their health and wellbeing, and that you’re doing your part as a responsible business. You could even build a promotional campaign around the fact that you’ve switched from loose to sealed sugar.

Secondly, you could use individual sugar portions as an opportunity to promote your brand further, by ordering them in a colour that matches your brand, or perhaps having your logo printed on the front. Personalised sugar and sweetener packets come in all shapes and sizes, including fun pyramids and hearts for children to amuse themselves instead of having a furtive fiddle in the jar.

So next time you walk into a bar, don’t become the butt of the bacteria joke. Whether nuts or sugar, opt for a freshly sealed packet every time and help make a stand against unhygienic food offerings.

If you’re a pub landlord or restaurant owner, check out the range of sachet options available at https://www.personalisedproductconsultants.com/home/sugar/.