Dirty restaurant ceilings can lead to failing health department inspections

Dirty restaurant ceilings can lead to failing health department inspectionsThey’re also health hazards to customers, staff

By Brad Pierce

Dirty restaurant ceilings can lead to failing health department inspectionsInspections of your food preparation areas by the Health Department are a part of doing business. Is your establishment clean enough to pass its next inspection?

The U.S. Department of Agriculture creates and disseminates the health safety code used by the state and county agencies responsible for the inspection of all commercial food preparation entities.  Included in the code is the requirement that all floors, walls and ceilings be composed of material that can be cleaned.  Thus, it is implied that these surfaces must be cleaned, and possibly sterilized, as part of the normal maintenance cycle.

Floors are certainly cleaned on a daily basis and maybe walls are cleaned periodically but what about ceilings?

Most cleaning staff and health inspectors will usually look at the floor upon first entering a kitchen or food preparation area.  Then they will look at the work space tables, stove tops and walk-in coolers.  Walls may get some attention if there is an obvious stain, and ceilings are generally ignored.  Few people bother to look up.

Ceilings are overhead traps

So what is the big deal about ceilings?  They are the overhead traps that catch all of the airborne grease aerosols from the grill and all the humidity from the sinks and dishwashers.  These naturally sticky materials also catch all the other airborne debris (dust, dirt, bacteria etc.) that may or may not be visible.  Have you ever looked at a kitchen air filter after it has been in place for a number of months?  The filter is usually clogged with airborne junk it was designed to trap.  Your ceiling is just as dirty only it is spread out over hundreds of square feet and is much less noticeable.

Again, why the big deal?  The food and staff are way down here and the ceiling is way up there.  Two words: gravity and air flow.  Gravity will eventually pull the ceiling grime down to the food level. Also, the air is being circulated by the air handling system and can dislodge invisible ceiling trash and distribute it around the area.  The ceiling air diffusers are usually coated with grime as the air filter cannot stop all airborne particles. Additionally, the humidity can cause the ceiling grid to rust causing the paint on the grid to peel and flake onto the food in the food prep area.

Okay, the ceiling is dirty and the grid is flaking paint.  What to do?  The kitchen staff could be tasked to clean the ceiling but that is not their forte.  The janitorial crew could be hired to clean the ceiling but they usually don’t have the experience or the proper cleaning compounds.  Besides, janitorial crews usually only clean six inches and lower in kitchens.  The entire ceiling and grid could be painted but this is very expensive and usually negates the fire rating of the ceiling tiles.  Replacing the tiles is an option but again is very expensive.

Hire experienced professionals

The best solution is hire a company that is experienced in cleaning ceilings and repairing the ceiling grid system, has the proper training and uses the proper cleaning compounds.  Ceiling Pro International (CPI), a Minneapolis-based company, has over 25 years in the ceiling cleaning industry.  They have developed proprietary cleaning compounds that have withstood the test of time.  CPI has over 500 dealers in their network, both in the U.S. and internationally, so chances are very good that there is a dealer near you.

All dealers are licensed to use the CPI products and are thoroughly trained in the proper application and proper cleaning techniques for each situation.  CPI also supports their dealers with telephone and/or email advice on how to handle new or unique situations.  If need be, CPI will fly an expert to the dealer’s home territory to lend on-site assistance and advice.

Don’t run the risk of failing a health inspection because your ceilings or ceiling grids are not up the health code standards.  Hire the pros in the ceiling cleaning business, Ceiling Pro International and their dealers.  You won’t be disappointed.

Brad Pierce is the owner of OSA Janitorial Service of Phoenix www.azjanitor.com, a licensed dealer of CPI. His company provides professional cleaning and janitorial services, including ceiling cleaning, to restaurants, retail businesses, medical facilities, office buildings, grocery stores and charter schools. Pierce can be reached at 602-451-9322.