Raising hygiene standards is an important goal for any business. Reducing contact between food and foreign materials like money is a great way to improve hygiene. As competition between small food outlets increases, owners need to raise the quality of every aspect of their business – including hygiene.
Historically staff working in food outlets have handled cash and food. But this practice has to change as part of your ongoing efforts to raise food hygiene standards. As a result, your business has a duty to minimise potential for contamination of foodstuffs. Wearing gloves and hairnets to reduce physical contact with food is commonplace. But there’s another source of bacteria that you may be missing – cash.
A study by MasterCard into cash hygiene revealed some startling facts. The average bank note is home to 26,000 bacteria for instance. And although two-thirds (66%) of Europeans believe physical money is dirty, just 20% wash their hands after handling it.
Whether bacteria or general dirt, your business has a duty to minimise contact between money and foodstuffs. You should not underestimate the importance of small details of the transaction like cash and food handling either – because your customers do notice. Evolutionary psychologists believe that disgust is an important mechanism for avoiding disease; if customers recognise cash as a source of potential illness they will, unconsciously, avoid your establishment.
Alternatives to dedicated cash handlers
Under ideal conditions, your business would be able to dedicate one member of staff to taking payments from customers and using the cash register. This approach helps to reduce the amount of handwashing or glove changes required between each transaction.
But for a café, restaurant, takeaway or small food outlet, that employs minimal staff, dedicating a single person to cash handling is too expensive – and an ineffective use of staff. The move towards card payments helps somewhat – but credit cards are often just as unhygienic as cash.
The good news is that technology can be used to accept cash payments from customers without ever having to touch coins or banknotes – or the bacteria on them. Self-checkout systems are relatively commonplace in European supermarkets, but the same technologies function well in any retail setting – including restaurants. Whether it’s a member of staff who completes the order or not, an automated payment terminal allows the customer to make a payment in cash and to receive change automatically.
This approach ensures that cash and food never come into direct contact. And because the two never touch, you can dramatically reduce the risk of transferring bacteria from banknotes to food ingredients for instance. You can help staff be more efficient too; instead of having to take payments and count change, a cash management system can perform both actions automatically.
Self-service cash handling is not merely a theoretical concept either. Small food outlets are already adopting these systems – including your competitors. Which means that hygiene conscious customers may be avoiding your restaurants too.
Does it really work?
There are a number of Fatih Servet Döner stores across Berlin, Germany in areas of high footfall like shopping centres and railway stations. The owners were looking for a way to improve the standard of hygiene in their restaurants.
The restaurants are primarily cash-based, which means that servers must prepare kebab-based foods and take physical payments from their customers. This also means there is a significant risk of transfer of bacteria to the food ingredients too.
By deploying StrongPoint’s Cash Management solution in their Döner stores in Berlin, Fatih Servet has completely solved this problem. Customer payments are processed automatically, and employees never need to touch dirty cash. Processing payments is also quicker and more accurate, raising the standard of service offered to diners, and preventing payment mistakes to protect profit margins.
Fatih Servet’s owner Mr Öncebe is clear on the benefits of using cash management in their restaurants; “Our stores are cleaner and safer – we’d never go back to handling cash directly. And the cash related work load per store reduced by 50%.”