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Designing hygiene into the kitchen

02 May 2014

Everybody knows that kitchen hygiene is vitally important in any food service environment, but not everyone takes account of how important the kitchen design process can be, Steve Bowler, design and product manager at Electrolux Professional, says

Consultants, dealers and manufacturers will always strategically consider what can be done at the design stage of a new kitchen, to help operators and management safeguard against bacteria, whilst ensuring the kitchen maintains a top reputation and efficient output. Design optimisation could be as simple as keeping dirty functions within the kitchen separate from the clean functions, or ensuring that refuse does not have to be taken through food rooms for collection. Good layout, operating systems and production flow should ensure that the preparation and handling of high risk foods are segregated and it also should prevent bottlenecks where team members get in each other’s way, which can be a cause of accidents.

Furthermore, chefs and kitchen operators can spend their time ensuring that each surface is wiped and spotless with the best performing cleaning products, but in some cases this simply isn’t enough. At Electrolux Professional, all modular cooking solutions are manufactured to fit together as a suite, which also offers economies of scale at the point of installation. Everything is done to maximise the use of space in a kitchen which is essential for maintaining maximum hygiene as it guarantees that there are no unnecessary gaps. Without small spaces and gaps the job of the operators when cleaning is far easier.

Food also needs to be delivered within a short time after being cooked, or blast chilled to a safe temperature, so industrial kitchens need to be designed with this consideration in mind. However, when this is prevented from happening there needs to be a back-up option. Combi-ovens such as the Electrolux Professional air-o-steam Touchline can hold food at safe temperatures to ensure bacteria growth is limited and food poisoning avoided. Once food drops below 63 degrees, bacteria growth will increase dramatically and exponentially, but if food is held in a combi oven this can be avoided.

We would always recommend installing a blast chiller close to a combi oven too so chefs can quickly move hot products into the chiller where they can be chilled and then stored for longer and kept for service at a later date. The worst things an operator can do is leave food on the side to cool down or put products straight into the fridge, which would bring up the temperature of the other food being stored and again increase bacteria growth. 

The importance of kitchen design cannot be underestimated. Mistakes made in the layout, design and equipment purchases within the kitchen can be extremely costly and can even hamper the ability to produce a quality meal efficiently and effectively.

Staff training and traceability

Simply, if a kitchen fits together well, is clean and looks the part, it can make an impression that lasts with visitors, customers and users, even when the good taste of the food has left their mouth. Safety assurances and quality are what people need to keep returning to eat from the same kitchen time and time again. Regular staff training is crucial in a kitchen to ensure that all cleaning procedures are carried out in the same way and that all the equipment in the kitchen is being used to maximum efficiency and also hygiene levels.

As well as regular training, there needs to be a system in place that guarantees food safety and peace of mind. HACCP (Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Points) is a science-based food safety management system that has become the preferred method for ensuring safe food all over the world. 

Most caterers, especially in sectors such as healthcare, will know about HACCP but not all will be aware that the catering equipment on the market can assure 100% certified food safety according to HACCP standards through new technology and features. For example, the Electrolux Professional air-o-steam Touchline combi oven comes with HACCP monitoring via USB key, ensuring operators can guarantee food safety and peace of mind for operators.