Sparkle And Shine
The kitchen is a space that hoteliers are focusing on not just to ensure they make the best food but also in terms of hygiene solutions.
By BINDU GOPAL RAO
The importance of hygiene is an element that can hardly be over emphasised. In the context of hotels, this is of paramount importance and specifically a hygienic kitchen is a given.
However, in order to ensure that the kitchen space is kept clean, hoteliers need to be on top of their game as far as quality of products and efficiency of service is concerned. It is not just cleaning of the kitchen that matters, but most importantly how this is executed in practice.
Food safety and sanitation is an essential part of the food industry. While it is important to be able to deliver food quickly and profitably, the importance of food safety and sanitation cannot be forgotten.
There are a variety of hygiene solutions that are used by different departments in hotel kitchens. Some of the prominent ones include labelling solutions to track FEFO/FIFO in production, contamination prevention solutions with colour specific knives and chopping boards, knife sterilisers for preventing contamination, cleaning and disinfectant chemicals and hand washing solutions like tissue dispensers, hand washing station, hand dryers. Many hotels also use temperature and time control solutions like probe and Laser thermometers for measuring temperatures at different points, while pest control solutions are utilized for controlling pests. Personnel safety gear solutions, including disposable gloves for handling food are also required.
The market itself has a plethora of options that aid in hygiene of kitchens. GRAFF, for instance, offers a wide selection of kitchen faucets with different designs and functionalities that make them a very useful tool for daily washing operations. Its faucets are equipped with a pull out or side spray and have a revolving spout.
Chef Rahul Dhavale, executive chef, The Westin Mumbai Garden City.
Likewise, even flooring solutions for kitchens need to be well suited for application where a high standard of hygiene is a requirement. “The impervious surface of our flooring collections allow for easy cleaning and not letting the dirt get deep. Due to aesthetic requirements, it has been seen that most end users and designers prefer wood floors with an open grain finish,” said Satinder Chawla, MD, Span Floors.
Making a Difference
The key factors in maintaining hygiene include product hygiene, kitchen hygiene, store hygiene, food handling hygiene, food handler hygiene, pest control management and waste management. “A purifying cutting board system is extremely logical device that incorporates a UV lamp, which in 20 minutes can destroy almost all of the germs that may have accumulated on the cutting boards. The right waste management system ensures the four-bin methods in kitchen which helps in proper waste segregation,” said Chef Prashant Tikadia, executive chef, Meluha The Fern.
Hygiene solutions needs include cleaning and disinfecting chemicals, equipment, training and periodic performance audits. In the business of food and hospitality, hygiene plays an inevitable role. A kitchen that is lively for an entire day requires extensive cleaning routine.
“Overall, it is a process that includes many steps right from receiving, preparation, production, dish-washing, pot washing and garbage areas to maintaining the cleanliness of the floors, wall tiles, exhaust system and hood. Pest control on regular intervals must done in and around the work area, work table-tops and drainage,” averred Sandeep Kotecha, Founder, The Kettlery.
Varun Sharma, F&B director, Clarks Exotica Convention Resort and Spa.
Cleaning for hotel kitchen today is embedded in the food production rosters. “This means today we are totally focused on WWW factors of the cleaning plan. The first important ‘W’ for us is to know what space, equipment is to be cleaned, what is the equipment/that space construction material and design, the what resources are required for cleaning like water, energy (heat from fuel/electricity) so that cleaning solutions can be selected keeping ‘What’ in our perspective. Second, while some task are done repeatedly throughout the day others are done at greater intervals of days, weeks, months apart. So we focus on ‘When’ to clean. Thirdly, depended on the frequency of the cleaning task required for the given space of kitchen or given equipment it is crucial to determine ‘Who’ will clean- a chef, a steward or the kitchen cleaner. As multiple people may be involved at different intervals for cleaning, we include very important aspect while making selection of cleaning solutions with respect to simplicity, response time, to ensure task if completed effectively to ensure safe food to our esteem guests,” opined Ullas Arora, F&B manager, Crowne Plaza Mayur Vihar.
Sanjay Mamgain, corporate executive sous chef, Lords Hotels & Resorts added that along with maintaining cleanliness of the utilities it is also very important to maintain the hygiene of the kitchen environment. This includes regular cleaning of kitchen floors, sinks, walls especially the ones adjacent to the worktops, kitchen work tables, and panels among others.
Glass cleaning, dish wash cleaning can be done as and when required however hard surface cleaning can be done periodically. One of the things that easily attract dust and get stubbornly settled is greasy soils in hoods and vents. It happens largely from smoke from burnt fried oils, tandoor smoke, Chinese cooking range, hot plates and other flames used for cooking food. So it is extremely important that the greasy matter is treated and wiped off as soon as there is any visible trace of it anywhere in the kitchen and where necessary and needs to be disinfected as frequently as necessary,” Mamgain added.
It is also important that hygiene solutions can perform deep cleaning so that the food quality is safeguarded. Chef Rahul Dhavale, executive chef, The Westin Mumbai Garden City explained, “The products have an intended specific use. Some of these are to be used exclusively for deep cleaning and sanitising. Correct application and dosage of the chemicals under effective supervision ensures thorough cleaning while safe guarding the food quality by preventing cross contamination through cooking vessels and contact surfaces.”
Naturally, stringent food safety standards and hygiene regulations are implemented to ensure that food prepared and served to guests is safe for consumption. “We have put certain procedures in place such as proficient cleaning with eco-friendly sanitisers to manage the risk of cross-contamination. Good personal hygiene to prevent bacteria from spreading to food, Chef Sidney D’Cunha, Executive Sous Chef, JW Marriott Mumbai Sahar”.
Thorough hand washing is a priority, particularly before handling and preparing food. Personal protective clothing should also be worn to minimize the spread of dirt and bacteria.
“Chemicals used for cleaning are of the highest standards and are ready to use. Besides this, we used SS equipment and uniquely designed hygiene stations,” D’Cunha added. The hotel also conducts health safety and hygiene training for staff resulting in a safer working environment and accurate and up-to-date ingredient information are displayed and regularly checked.
It is very important to maintain the right operation cost without compromising the quality of hygiene and sanitation. And to balance all the factors which affect this is to set the right procedure and follow an SOP. “All equipment in the kitchen must have the right procedure of operating. This SOP needs to be designed keeping in mind the best results from available resources. Not only cleaning of kitchen but also cleaning and sanitation of row products have equal importance. For example sanitation of vegetables to avoid contamination which leads to wastage and cleaning chemicals with predefined ratio for dilution needs to be followed for best results,” said Tikadia.
The cleaning cost of any kitchen is subjective and depends greatly upon the layout, space and equipment in use. The water ratio usage depends upon type of cleaning done and area size of a kitchen. Varun Sharma, F&B director, Clarks Exotica Convention Resort and Spa explained, “To keep the operations cost low we get into annual agreement with the supplier, Periodic practical and theoretical training of the team happens which ensures the operations cost remains low. Material Safety Data Sheets (MSDS) is kept along with the chemicals and this is a document that contains information on the potential hazards (health, fire, reactivity and environmental) and how to work safely with the chemical product. This is an essential starting point for the development of a complete health and safety program. Automatic dispensers are utilized to get the perfect mix of chemical with water.”
Chef Prashant Tikadia, executive chef, Meluha The Fern.
Hotels usually have standard processes that are created and followed. Dosage, cleaning methods, schedules and effective supervision are included to control costs. “To manage the best of the operational services and keep the price low, we follow a few steps like signing annual rate contracts with vendors, providing proper training to the user team regarding usage and dosage, regular reviewing of costs, indent control procedures and internal audits,” added Kotecha.
Doing the Math
The Return On Investment (ROI) for hygiene solutions totally depends on the sale of the F&B product and it is a long term process. “Overall, the proper way to calculate a return is using the cash flow method, it should meet at least 15% ROI minimum in your first year and you are in a good business if you could reach 20 to 25% annual profit vs capital,” said Tikadia.
Akanksha Kanwar, hygiene manager, The Leela Ambience Convention Hotel, Delhi added, “ROI in case of solutions related to hygiene cannot be considered as these are basic prerequisites of any kitchen and are indispensable. Hence, only the operational cost of few items/supplies can be controlled by monitoring handling procedures, reducing the wastage and breakdowns, if any. Only comparison can be made with respect to the current and previous year.”
To calculate the ROI on such cleanliness and sanitation routines is difficult and depends on hotel location and business volumes. “Instead, we work on expense budgets which vary as a percentage ratio of sales revenue. This means if sales are high then the hygiene solutions expense will be relatively high,” said Mamgain.
Hotels select suppliers based on their individual hygiene standards, though the basic criteria remain the quality of chemicals, post-sales services provided by supplier and training imparted. “Our focus is always to maintain high standards of hygiene in order safeguard the quality of food we bring to the table. We conduct detailed audits of authorised vendors. The vendors providing good quality products that are eco-friendly, user friendly and cost effective are chosen for supply,” said Singh.
“For identifying a supplier for kitchen hygiene solution, various relevant suppliers are identified following which quotes from them are citied for comparison and to keep a track on cost. Apart from this the reference of past work is taken, enquiry regarding the services they provide is collected from the given references. After taking all the feedback into account, a final decision is taken by the executive chef, the finance and purchase department,” explained Kanwar.
While several hotels deal directly with the company’s distributors some choose wholesalers. This choice is governed by the efficiency and effectiveness of the supplier to deliver solutions in a timely and cost-effective manner. Hoteliers are certainly realising that a hygienic kitchen is a given and this must be done in a manner that keeps all stakeholders happy – both internal and external. Well after all, the old adage cleanliness is next to godliness still holds true.