The main factor that the efficiency as well as safety of a kitchen relies on is the placement of the equipment. It is recommended to place fast cooking equipment, such as griddles and fryers, closer to the point of service and bulk cooking points where multiple ingredients meet, such as boiling pans and pots, within the core of the kitchen’s “hot section” and distant from the service points. Not only does this cut down opportunities for cross-contamination but it also facilitates quicker assembly and delivery.
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Explore This IssueDecember/January 2017
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Without having to compromise on the authenticity of a specific recipe, certain processes could be combined if not reduced to both increase the efficiency of workflow and also eliminate chances for cross-contamination. For instance, pre-sanitized vegetables could very well replace the need to sanitize the greens in-house. This technique also reduces the chances of over dosage of chlorine based sanitizer tablets used in most conventional produce washing processes. Creating working zones ensures seamless workflow, reduces chaos, and enhances cross-functional communication within the kitchen. Zones within the kitchen do not necessarily need to be visibly demarcated but they shouldn’t overlap with processes that could result in cross-contamination.
Food Waste Management
The emphasis needs to lie on not just conventional waste management but reducing food wastage as well. Although time and temperature remain the pivotal elements that dictate the shelf life of food, certain variables like portions and stock rotation could ensure that food wastage remains minimal. Having good contingency plans in case a refrigerator or freezer unit breaks down would prove to be beneficial.
Ideally speaking, pest control begins as the kitchen and other areas of the premises are being constructed. Access and exit points should be sealed off from pests’ entry and harborage. Choosing the right building materials would support IPM to a great extent. Electric fly killers work best when it’s positioned away from sources of bright light and for obvious food safety reasons, they must never be installed atop food preparation and processing areas. Certain food businesses feel that they need to install the fly killer “somewhere.” The UV lamps utilized in fly killers are designed to attract insects and installing a unit where insect activity never existed before might take a turn for the opposite. If it isn’t broken, don’t fix it. Baits and traps, when utilized, should be installed based on the local environment and health regulations.
HVAC ensures a comfortable and safe work environment within the commercial kitchen. A good HVAC contractor would test for flue gases since combustion safety cannot be ignored—again, this goes back to being backed by a multi-disciplinary team during the initial phases of designing or renovating a commercial kitchen. That being said, installing a hood to extract fumes by itself does not entail a complete ventilation system. Depending on the nature of the food business, the equipment in use, and the bulk of food that is cooked, there are various regulations pertaining to kitchen ventilation systems. The general rule of thumb is vent hoods are coupled with fire suppression systems over most cooking equipment. Make-up air systems carry equal importance on the ventilation priority list and this can be competently designed provided the steam generating and heat generating units in the kitchen are considered.
It’s quite a fulfilling and satisfying experience to watch a restaurant, a café, or a retail space materialize from scratch. During the transition from “print to brick,” walking the plan during buildup helps identify areas of improvement and nip away potential gaps.
Sebastian is a registered (GCC and U.K.) food safety consultant, speaker, and trainer with Dubai-based food safety consultancy, Apex Food Consultants. Reach her at firstname.lastname@example.org.