Keeping it clean
Adhering to high levels of sanitation, food safety and hygiene in their kitchens helps hoteliers keep a check on contamination and depicts their good business sense
By Soumya Menon
Keeping a kitchen clean is not an easy task. Whether it is an international hotel group or a quick service restaurant (QSR), both face challenges when it comes to running a busy kitchen and maintaining hygiene at the same time.
Today, chefs and F&B managers are accountable for the quality of cuisine and dining experience as well as maintaining a high cleanliness ethic. Establishments in the hospitality industry are, therefore, investing in leading quality equipment and tools, and are following stringent steps to train their staff to be competent to maintain basic and advanced sanitation standards. The procurement team at hotels and restaurants not only look for eco-friendly products that are chemical free, but also source equipment that will contribute to environmentally viable practices.
In addition to following a set corporate guideline, all hotels and restaurants have the HACCP guideline as their go-to checklist. A lot of them are ISO:14001 and ISO:22000 certified and the staff is trained from the time they are recruited into the team.
Every hotel and restaurant follows a stringent standard operating procedure to maintain hygiene levels. Sanitisation of work counters and tables, produce, kitchen equipment such as chopping boards, knives, etc., are basic checks. Additionally, the staff ensures the floors and tables are cleaned every couple of hours, and follow the ‘Clean As You Go’ policy.
“As an international luxury hotel chain, we adhere to the detailed set of corporate guidelines and practices that streamline our policies when it comes to kitchen hygiene practices and food safety standards. Our policies include practices like strict vendor management with timely and stringent auditing processes, procuring best-in-class cold storage equipment, cleaning and sanitising kitchens with high-quality prescribed chemicals and detergents, etc. The dish wash process is monitored strictly with temperature maintained over 82° to ensure no bacteria are left with correct chemical dosage,” said Anurudh Khanna, executive chef, Shangri-La Hotel, Bengaluru. Kitchen equipment, like cutting boards and knives are also colour coded, as per industrial standards, to avoid cross contamination and are also sanitized post-use.
Hotels and restaurants also place a lot of emphasis on personal hygiene, insisting that hair be covered with headgear, no jewellery or accessory be worn on fingers or wrists, gloves, aprons and caps be donned all the time. Hand washing in the kitchen is mandatory and the staff is instructed to sanitise their hands or wash it with liquid soap and water at least every one hour or more frequently while working. Establishments also have random audits and checks including pest control and microbiological swab tests.
Underlining how seriously hygiene is taken, Brijesh Sharma, executive sous chef of Lemon Tree Premier, City Center, Gurugram said, “Every food handler from the kitchen, F&B service, kitchen stewarding and stores undergoes medical fitness test every six months. They are also administered with specific vaccines to prevent communicable and viral diseases. Random microbiological tests are conducted as a part of surprise audit to check hygiene of food and water.” Even visitors are required to wear protective body covering, if they need to enter kitchen area. Routine fumigation and pest control practices are followed to avoid pests in the kitchen areas. Almost makes one feel like they are entering a NASA facility rather than a food preparation area!
Setting a systematic regime
Cleaning the kitchen regularly is essential to food safety and reduces food waste and the overall costs. But regular cleaning at a hotel or restaurant can be overwhelming if there is no system in place. Most establishments, therefore, have a handy list and a timetable. While some jobs need to be done several times a day, some follow a weekly or monthly timetable.
Sachin Shet, EAM, F&B at The Leela Goa said that the group has a set of daily, weekly and monthly activities. “Daily cleaning includes gas-range servicing, kitchen floor cleaning, dishwashing – where we monitor proper dishwashing temperature during every shift, equipment cleaning, oven cleaning, crockery bleaching, blast chiller cleaning, walls and ceiling cleaning, wet garbage, dry garbage area and back dock cleaning twice a day. Cleaning of the ice machine, kitchen hood, walk in chillers, pest-o-flash, drainage treatment procedure and water cooler are a weekly routine. The monthly cleaning involves walk-in freezers, equipment store, and dry store,” he added.
Marriott Jaipur follows a three-step cleaning process that involves daily rail road cleaning, weekly deep cleaning and a monthly 43-point checklist that also includes HACCP guidelines. These tasks in most hotels and restaurants are monitored by the Chef-in-charge and the Stewarding Manager.
“We have deep-cleaning schedule for every kitchen on a weekly basis. This includes Clean and Repair Everything (CARE), which needs attention, besides regular cleaning. Also, all equipment undergoes a CARE program to ensure they work trouble-free and kept neat as per standards,” said Roy Satheesan, executive chef of The Leela Kovalam.
Most hotels have specialised cleaning schedules that also involves daily briefings and training by in-house and outsourced trainers to maintain the hygiene standards. “Our schedule mainly includes daily cleaning of kitchen and walk-in pathways, weekly cleaning of ceiling hoods and monthly equipment pre-maintenance. We also provide training for staff on cleaning methods and hygiene standards and following the FIFO method for cleaning,” said Nyaneshwar Kambli, assistant chief steward of Goa Marriott Resort & Spa.
Most QSR indulge in spring cleaning, especially after a heavy period of business such as a food festival. This enables deep cleaning from the back of the house to the business front and though it is an elaborate task, it is made easy with the right commercial cleaning equipment.
Hotels usually schedule spring cleaning on a weekly or a monthly basis as well. The products used are often stronger. This also involves audits by in-house teams and external agencies that make sure that the establishment is spic and span for the next business period. Any change or amendments to the products used or the methods are changed once a year in major hotel and restaurant chains.
“At Lemon Tree Hotels, spring cleaning of kitchen is done every month. Apart from this, we follow our daily and weekly cleaning schedules. Whenever there are new trends in the market we follow them and add them into our Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs). The audits of our SOPs are done weekly by the Executive Chef of the hotel. Every month the internal audit is conducted by the general manager and the same sheet is being shared with the corporate chef. There are also half yearly audits done by an external agency. It is divided into two phases in the year. Apart from this time to time a Product, Grooming, Hygiene and Process audit is carried out by the senior management,” said Chef Sharma.
Chef Roy said that The Leela Kovalam schedule their spring cleaning once a week and the schedule is altered depending on soil accumulation. “There is the in-house resort hygiene team – includes chefs, hygiene manager, engineer, training manager, stewarding manager who does audit in every month. Surprise audits are also scheduled at least once in three months. An ISO certification body conducts surveillance audit in every six months. Besides that, we have also formed a team, comprising a stewarding manager, cleaning supply company representative and chef, to audit how effectively we use
the solution and how it can be optimised, if required,” he said.
Efficient green teams
With sustainability being a subject of interest for hotels and restaurants across the globe, they try and achieve this even in kitchen cleaning processes. There are ‘green’ teams in several establishments that make sure that the processes followed contribute to the larger cause.
The Leela Goa, for example, is a ISO:14001 and ISO:22000 certified hotel group and they have a committee called as the Green Brigade, which is headed by the hotel’s chief engineer. The main purpose of the green brigade is to monitor various factors affecting the energy cost and device an action plan to keep it in control without compromising on the standards. The hotel uses automated diluters, dispensers, dishwashing machines, floor scrubbing machines to save water and energy.
Saving water and energy are one of the most
important aims of most hotels and restaurants in addition to preventing food wastage. “We use internationally renowned cleaning methods at our hotel which are environment-friendly and help in considerable saving of water and energy. Certain solutions like hands-free taps or foot operated taps and energy efficient boilers, chillers and dishwashers not only reduce environmental impact, but also improve the performance of equipment and reduce operating costs,” said Jitesh Patta, general manager, Radisson Blu Resort & Spa Karjat.
Pradipt Sinha, executive chef, Marriott Jaipur pointed out that they use only one dish wash machine when the hotel is not that busy because it consumes lot of water and electricity. “During off seasons, we switch off the refrigerator and other kitchen equipment that are not in use. We keep pass counters off when not in operation,” he added.
Start with the basics
Chefs and F&B managers lead by example as they believe that it is important to have an unwavering commitment toward maintaining high levels of cleanliness. Hotels and restaurants ensure that cleanliness starts with their own staff and some even have an in-house hygiene manager who is responsible for training.
Shet from The Leela Goa said, “Training plays a very vital role in our organisation. We have a structured induction program for all new joiners. Every month we have a comprehensive structured training calendar prepared as per the training need. We have online exams for all employees which are mandatory. Regular training classes are conducted by the hygiene manager in liaison with the training manager to ensure all the staff working at the hotel is trained in ISO:22000 and hygiene standards. We also have representatives coming from Diversey Sealed Air who conduct training session for our associates.”
At the Lemon Tree Premier, City Center, Gurugram, all new recruits go through an intensive day-long training session followed by an evaluation round which one and all must clear. “We also organise a refresher course for all, two months after them joining the system. Even the chefs conduct trainings for their culinary brigades on a weekly basis. A lot of on the job trainings is also given to chefs and all food handlers regarding good practices,” said Chef Sharma.
Increasing consumer awareness
Globally, the hospitality industry is witnessing an increase in the use of disinfectants and sanitisers due to increasing consumer awareness about hygiene and safety. As a global trend, concentrated bactericidal hand dishwashing liquid for cleaning and disinfection of pots, pans, crockery, glass and all washable utensils are used.
“Use of cleaning chemicals and use of automated diluters, dispensers, dishwashing machine, and floor scrubbing machines is in trend now days, and is witnessing a continuing increase in demand, especially in food and beverages, food service and healthcare sectors, where maintaining hygienic environment is extremely vital and not an option anymore,” said Shet from The Leela Goa.
Patta from Radisson Blu Resort & Spa Karjat said that the use of biodegradable kitchen cleaning products that are certified with an eco-mark are highly common these days. “All products used at Radisson Blu Resort & Spa Karjat are commercial in nature and come with product information sheet and Material Safety Data Sheet (MSDS),” he said.
While procuring cleaning and sanitising products, establishments make sure that the suppliers are internationally renowned with sustainable solutions that improve food safety and security. The suppliers should have valid legal documents, adequate supply of products and a Material Safety Data Sheet (MSDS) for all the supplied products. Chef Sinha from Marriott Jaipur said, that as per national guidelines, the suppliers have to be government certified, have a local warehouse, should be able to provide necessary trainings to the staff and nominal.
Most international hotels have a global group contracting system so that it’s a win-win for both the vendor and the client. Since many are global contractors, it ensures that the quality of products/services is uniform. The ones who are contracted locally are also audited annually to ensure that the hygiene standards are maintained.
While keeping the kitchen area spick and span needs a lot of time and attention, there is no denying that this time, money and energy is well invested. Maintaining high sanitation standards ensures fewer issues of contamination, equipment failure, employee injuries or brand damage. Ultimately, it just spells great business sense.