Bed & Breakfast is fast becoming the most popular way to enjoy the most relaxed way of seeing this wonderful country of ours. Yet many do not appreciate the hidden dangers that are associated with providing accommodation.
Temperature monitoring and control can make a huge difference to the comfort and well-being of the customer as well as the underlying cost of running the business.
The proper preparation of food ranks as probably the highest priority for a B&B business. Temperature control will form part of the risk assessment that every business should undertake. Professional food processing involves what is known as a HACCP Plan (pronounced ‘hassap’) and is based at analysing the whole process from delivery and storage of food products, through cooking, freezing, and serving. Each part of the process should be considered and there are many internet sites to help, but an important aspect is the temperatures that should be achieved for each activity. However, the use of a thermometer is also a useful tool for the proprietor, as there are controls that can save money. By checking post-delivery storage areas to reduce waste, but not over cooling refrigerators and wasting energy. Checking that food is cooked or reheated to correct temperatures; food poisoning is responsible for over a million lost work hours every year (as well as a loss to an establishment’s reputation); and yet again not over-cooking which results in spoilt food and a waste of food and energy.
Temperature control is also important in the living areas with simple environment monitoring providing the most comfortable and economic temperatures. Hot water should be monitored to provide safe temperatures, again advice is available online. Central heating radiators should be kept to certain, safe temperatures, especially if young children are present. http://www.hse.gov.uk/healthservices/scalding-burning.htm
Legionella disease is caused by bacteria in water storage areas and again the dangers can be avoided by temperature monitoring of water storage. http://www.hse.gov.uk/legionnaires/
Bed bugs and damp mould may not be obvious problems, but it is best to keep it that way by proper control of temperature and especially humidity. Often accommodation is kept at too high a temperature, with a lack of ventilation, and this can result in the formation of damp mould in bathrooms and bedrooms, and unfortunately bed-bugs also thrive in such conditions. Mould will be controlled by effective ventilation and not airing damp clothing/bed linen in confined spaces. However, if bed-bugs are present it is best to consult a professional team for recommendations, but control can be aided by recommended temperature and humidity conditions.
Summarising, the use of a hand-held thermometer, room thermometers and humidity indicators is essential for maintaining the quality and safety of Bed & Breakfast establishments. There are many instruments on the market, but it is useful to remember that you tend to ‘get what you pay for’ and convenience with the speed of response and the accuracy of measurement will provide peace of mind as well as proof of due diligence with the authorities in the event of a problem.