I used to prepare and cook our family's food when my husband and I were newly married and when we still had one child. I enjoyed cooking a lot. For me, cooking is both science and art.
It was during those early years in our marriage that I created my 4-Week Cycle Menu Plan. It was my way of making things easier for me.
When we had more kids, I was forced to delegate this task to our helpers. I taught our new maids my recipes and how I want them to be prepared. I also taught them about food handling, food safety and sanitation. These were the very things I used to teach our crew in the fast food restaurant where I used to work as Certified Training Manager and Store Manager.
Some maids are open to my teachings and training. Sadly, most of them are not. They are not used to having someone supervise them and teach them or correct them when they make mistakes. Maybe, that's because they used to work in households where the owners are usually at work or do not spend time observing how their maids work.
I'm used to being an involved Manager. One of our management styles in the restaurant is managing by walking around. We go around to observe, teach and correct if needed. It's an effective way to ensure that what we teach our crew are reinforced and have follow through. When we observe them work, we witness if they are doing things right or not. We would know if they remembered what we taught them during their orientation or training.
A couple of weeks ago, I observed our new maid while preparing to cook our food. At first I watched her closely, right after I gave her instructions. After that, I went upstairs to my home office to do my work. From my computer, I would observe here every now and then through our cctv monitor.
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I would cringe every time our maid would do some things that are big no-nos to us who are from the food industry. It was also enough to make me go back to our kitchen to remind her of what I taught her about food handling and food preparation.
Let me share 3 tips or guidelines that I always teach our new maids when I orient them. These are also the 3 things that my maids usually violate that's why I call their attention when I observe them in the kitchen.
1. Always wash your hands with soap and water after handling raw meat, poultry or fish. Do not touch other things yet until you have washed your hands.
I see this often when I observe the maids who have worked for us in the past 8 years. They usually touch other things or surfaces (like the cabinet handles and doors, plates, kitchen counters or ref towels, etc.) with their hands after they touched or held raw meat, poultry or fish.
Why is this a no-no? There are bacteria in raw meat, poultry and fish. Those bacteria would be transferred to other surfaces or things in your kitchen that you or your maids would touch or hold if you do not wash your hands first.
2. Always wash your hands with soap and water after touching or using your kitchen rag.
A kitchen rag is usually used to wipe the kitchen counter or stove. In some households, this is also used to wipe the dining table. Imagine the amount of dirt that goes into this rag. Some people do not even wash this after every use with soap and water. Because of all the dirt that comes in contact with this rag, it becomes an easy breeding ground of bacteria or germs. These germs can get to your plates, eating utensils and other things that you use when eating if you or your maid does not wash her hands first after using your kitchen rag.
Sometimes, I would catch our maid use the kitchen rag to wipe the surface of our kitchen counter and then after that she would just wipe her hands dry on the ref towel before holding the plates that she will use to set the table. When I catch our maids doing that, I would ask them to wash their hands first and use new plates or eating utensils instead. I will ask the maid to wash the ones she touched after she used the kitchen rag. I would remind our maid that our hands may appear clean but it doesn't always mean that they are free from germs. So, it is best to always wash our hands with soap and water after holding dirty things like a kitchen rag.
3. Always tie your hair when preparing food or cooking even when you just showered or taken a bath.
There is greater possibility that some hair would fall or get in contact with the food being prepared if a hair net is not used or the hair isn't tied.
Even when one's hair is newly shampooed, there is still bacteria in it. We studied this in college when I was still in the University of the Philippines taking up BS Hotel and Restaurant Administration. My classmates and I were surprised when we saw under the microscope the bacteria present even in newly washed hair.
This is one of the stories I tell our maids when I explain this to them. I would tell them that we would swab surfaces and even skin of people and we would study these samples in our laboratory and observe them under the microscope.
In truth, I am sometimes tempted to buy a microscope for our use at home to demonstrate this.
These tips barely scratch the surface of what I usually teach our restaurant crew, supervisors and managers about food safety, food handling and food preparation.
I believe that these are important things that need to be shared even to homemakers and our maids or cooks at home to prevent foodborne diseases. I am especially passionate about this because I have babies at home and young children whose tummies are not yet fully formed and strong. Actually, there are adults who also have sensitive tummies.
Because of these recent observations with our new maid, a desire in me was awakened to organize a seminar on the topic to homemakers and maids or cooks.
If you are interested to learn more about food handling, food safety and sanitation, send me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org to inform me if you and/or your maid/cook would like to attend this kind of seminar.
This can be a 2-4 hour seminar with question and answer portion already. If I receive a number of emails from you or if there would be at least 20 people who want to learn from me about this topic, that would be enough for me to organize this learning event.
So, go to your kitchen now and observe your maid or cook! ;) Then, send me an email at email@example.com if she needs some training.