18 June 2015 | By Luke Rutterford
Whether catering is contracted to a third-party specialist or falls under their own remit, FMs must work closely with catering managers to ensure their premises are spotless and free from sources of contamination, so they can provide excellent cuisine and keep their customers happy and healthy.
1. Consistent cleaning
Food catering is heavily regulated - and for good reason. Kitchens in large facilities can produce meals for hundreds of people a day, meaning that contamination can have widespread and dramatic effects.
To avoid heavy fines - and any other negative effects on profitability - every kitchen needs to carry out daily and weekly cleaning routines to ensure that the highest levels of hygiene are maintained.
Dirt, grime and bacteria can build up in kitchens even when regular cleaning is carried out. Less accessible surfaces such as walls, ceilings, lights and kitchen fittings can all accumulate grease and dust, providing the perfect breeding ground for bacteria. In the warmer spring and summer months this can lead to unpleasant odours, which can deter customers and demotivate staff. Although a degree of food waste and grease build-up is inevitable in commercial kitchens, catering managers need to make sure they follow practical measures to avoid this or they risk negative health inspections that can lead to a decrease in both catering revenues and their business's reputation.
One simple yet effective step to take is to employ a hygiene expert to deep clean the kitchen and catering facilities.
During deep cleaning, special attention is paid to hard-to-reach areas, which may be neglected during the facility's regular cleaning routine. It is recommended that this takes place at least once a year and is booked to coincide with ventilation cleaning to minimise any disruption. Ventilation cleaning is critical for fire prevention and can form part of the fire-risk assessment that all kitchens in commercial premises are required to undertake in line with their insurance provision.
2. Dirty ducts
Cooking generates airborne grease, carbon and steam, which can form into deposits in hard-to-reach areas like ceiling surfaces and ventilation ducts. If allowed to build up, these deposits can create foul odours, reduce airflow, and even block grills and vents. Specialist cleaning will prevent these issues and the consequent threat posed to fire safety. It will also help to prevent temperature control issues and equipment deterioration.
The air supply ducts in kitchens in particular provide an ideal environment for the accumulation of mildew, dust, mould, pathogenic bacteria and other micro-organisms, which can then spread to the food being prepared. Certain ducts can also become a harbour for pests and can accumulate their associated droppings. This contravenes the Food Safety Act 1990 and can be hazardous to staff working in the kitchen, violating the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974.
3. Maintaining ducts
It is strongly recommended that for a thorough deep clean FMs and kitchen managers should consult a professional service provider. In addition, managers can take the following steps to keep their ducts in good shape.
- Be vigilant in daily cleaning regimes to limit the amount of dust and grime getting into the ducts;
- Schedule yearly inspections according to current fire prevention regulations and, if necessary, employ ventilation cleaning professionals;
- Change filters at regular intervals - a blocked kitchen vent can cause the fans to overheat and could start a fire;
- Clean vent covers thoroughly - if you are starting following a deep clean, these can be maintained in-house and you may avoid needing to outsource as frequently; and
- Call a professional pest controller at the first sign of an infestation. A Blattella germanica cockroach can have 35 to 40 offspring in their egg case per female and an infestation can rapidly get out of hand.
4. Equipment longevity
Kitchen hygiene is essential as, without regular cleaning, carbon can build-up on ovens and cooking equipment, reducing its efficiency and life span significantly and decreasing its productivity. Not only is output reduced, but costs are also elevated as expensive equipment becomes damaged and its power use increases.
Regular deep cleaning can save FMs thousands of pounds, so the benefits of undertaking this activity clearly outweigh the costs. Furthermore, drafting in specialists gives FMs the confidence to focus on other business operations - safe in the knowledge that cleaning is being conducted to the highest possible standards.
If you are unsure of how regularly a premise requires cleaning it is best to consult a professional. They are trained to understand the latest legislation requirements in their area of expertise and willp know how best to tackle kitchen grime.
Luke Rutterford, technical manager, Rentokil Specialist Hygiene