Food premises and kitchen design part two
Food premises and kitchen design is key to food safety and the smooth running of any food business.
The design of any area used to prepare food must be done with food safety and health & safety in mind.
Often premises evolve or are converted from other uses. An understanding of health & safety and food safety will help to ensure that the final design flows well and in a smooth line from goods in to despatch of the finished food.
A good design will adhere to the law of the land where the food is being produced, as well as keep the food and team safe. For UK guidance, the Food Standards Agency (and Food Standards Scotland) have guidance on their respective websites.
I have written a blog about the food safety aspects here. Cooking food either for food safety or organoleptic purposes is an important part of a lot of food businesses. It can transform food from difficult to eat to delicious. As far as design is concerned, and food safety management, it is important to place it in the correct part of the process flow and also the footprint of the premises.
Ovens may need two doors so they can be opened to place raw food inside in the raw or low risk part of the production area. The cooked food is then removed from the other door in the High care, or cooked, area. Fryers and steam generating vessels such as kettles will need extraction systems which cannot easily be relocated. These need to be sited carefully. Cleaning also need to be considered. How often are the extraction hoods and other cooking equipment going to be cleaned?
Best practice is for waste containers to be stainless steel, due to its durability, and clearly identified. Waste storage containers for waste must be kept separately away from food locations, with suitable ventilation and free from pests.
Segregation of waste for recycling must be managed with a view to reducing the attraction of pests.
Hand wash and preparation sinks
These must be separate. The law in the UK requires hand wash sinks to be provided with hot and cold running water, materials to clean hands and hand drying facilities to hygienically dry hands. Good practice is to provide barrier creams for those who suffer from conditions such as dermatitis and paper towels, rather than electric hand dryers. The use of paper towels is considered more hygienic as electric dryers can host pathogenic bacteria and blow them over freshly washed hands. I have tested hand dryers, myself, and found this to be the case, with Staphylococcus aureus and Enterobacteriaceae found during my testing. These dryers were isolated and cleaned before retesting and releasing for use.
Cooling or chilling.
I wrote a blog about the food safety aspects, here. Siting the blast chiller and other refrigeration is an important consideration. The blast chiller is generally close to the cooking area. Blast freezers will have different applications and therefore will be sited differently. Don’t make the mistake of placing your external condensers on the south side of our building in full sunshine. Consider some type of sun shielding too. Overheating refrigeration is the last thing that you need on a summer’s day. Refrigeration may be sited close to the delivery area for raw materials or despatch area for finished goods. Other refrigerated storage may be close to preparation areas for intermediate preparation.
These must be easy to clean and scratch resistant. Stainless steel is preferred. If you are using chopping boards, check regularly for excessive scoring or cracking. Wooden boards are not preferred due to the possibility of splinters entering the food being prepared on them. Chopping boards should be sanitised before and after use. Make sure that you clean underneath, as well as on top of preparation tables, splashes and food can contaminate underneath surfaces, as well as the top.
Wash up and cleaning
These activities should be kept away from food preparation, particularly ready to eat food. It may mean that you need a completely separate area, or it could be that this only happens once food has finished being produced for the day. In large manufacturing sites, a clear as you go policy will be combined with a hygiene team cleaning at a separate time to the production.
An area to store dirty equipment is essential as well as an area to store clean equipment or machinery parts. Bacteria can multiply in food left on equipment surfaces, and create biofilms which are difficult to remove. When equipment is going to be left for a period of time before use, it can be helpful to shroud it, ensuring that all water is removed to prevent rust being created. It is also useful to have a completely separate area to store unused equipment away from production areas.
With all of these requirements, you may need to make amendments due to local authority (in the UK) building control requirements. engage with your local council early in the process, so that expensive changes do not need to be made, once remodelling has started.
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