Evaluation of the Hygienic Quality of Cutting Counters in Some Restaurants Operating in Istanbul
Keywords:Cutting Board, Food Safety, Hygiene
Every stage of food processing, from production to consumption, affects the quality and safety of food. Failure to perform effective cleaning and disinfection processes on equipment used in food preparation can increase the microbial load in food, leading to a shorter shelf life. Equipment used in establishments serving mass consumption can be a significant source of cross-contamination if hygiene rules are not followed, potentially transferring foodborne pathogens to the final product. Therefore, maintaining the cleanliness and sanitation of working areas in food establishments, especially surfaces and equipment in direct contact with food, is a fundamental necessity to prevent the spread of microorganisms and food contamination.This study was conducted to assess the microbiological quality of samples taken from 4 different colored cutting counters (white, red, green, brown) in ten restaurants operating in Istanbul, with the aim of evaluating possible cross-contamination. Surface samples were taken from the targeted areas of the cutting counters (100 cm²) using pre-moistened swabs and transferred to the laboratory under cold chain conditions (4°C). Microbial analyses of surface samples were conducted for total mesophilic aerobic bacteria (TAMB) and coliform bacteria counts, following ISO 4833-1 and ISO 4831, respectively, and the results were provided in cfu/cm² (colony forming units per square centimeter). Reference values indicating that the maximum acceptable bacterial count for cutting counters in contact with raw food is 100 cfu/cm², while for surfaces in contact with cooked food, it is 10 cfu/cm², with no coliform group bacteria present in 100 cm² of product-contact surfaces. According to the analysis results, cutting counters in contact with raw food had TAMB and coliform bacteria counts of 4.2x10¹ - 4.5x10² cfu/cm² and 4 - 4.5x10² cfu/cm², respectively. In contrast, surfaces in contact with cooked food had TAMB counts of 2 - 5.5x10² cfu/cm² and coliform bacteria counts of 0 - 1.3x10² cfu/cm². It was determined that 50% of cutting counters in contact with raw food and 96.6% of cutting counters in contact with cooked products were unsuitable based on TAMB counts, while 100% of those in contact with raw food and 70%of those in contact with cooked products were unsuitable based on coliform bacteria counts. In conclusion, it is reported that the effectiveness of hygiene in food establishments is generally variable. Therefore, there is a need for proper cleaning protocols and control measures to prevent food contamination from cutting counters in the sampled restaurants.