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Promoting Food Safety Through Intuitive Kitchen Design

In light of Coronavirus, many food service facilities have opted to modify their food prep areas, a change that will likely remain long after the pandemic subsides. Overhauling restaurant kitchens is a large task, and one that requires focusing on more than just aesthetics or top of the line equipment. The most effective kitchens will feature an intuitive combination of food safety, functionality, and flow. To achieve this, food service operators should work closely with their building design team and a food safety expert who can advise them on the best use of space to minimize food safety hazards.

Cross-contamination is perhaps the biggest safety risk to consider, and one that commonly pops up as a result of kitchen design flaws. Here are five factors to help you reinvent your safety-savvy kitchen:

Planning Ahead

To avoid extended downtime, flesh out all plans well ahead of any action taken. Collaborating with a food safety professional during the initial design phase will not only ensure your kitchen’s compliance with state health requirements, but also help you achieve full-scale protection from potential contamination.

Floor Plan

Arguably the most important part of a kitchen’s design (and where we can achieve maximum intuitiveness) is the floor plan. Back-of-house flow is defined by the arrangement of equipment. Where a good floor plan can significantly increase kitchen staff efficiency, a bad one can cause confusion and contribute to cross contamination. How close is your mixer to the wash sink? Are your servers running food through the dirty dish area to reach guests? Is your staff able to socially distance? Are floor drains present to encourage regular deep cleaning? These are just a few of the factors you should consider when designing an effective floor plan.

Sink Requirements

Now more than ever, hand-washing is crucial to the prevention of both virus and foodborne illness. For this reason, hand wash sinks should be easily accessible to all areas of the kitchen. This may best be achieved with multiple well-labeled sinks. This includes at least one mop sink and one 3-compartment sink, even with the presence of a mechanical dishwasher. Sinks should never be in an area where food (or anything that may come in contact with food) might be exposed to contaminated water.

Equipment

According to the CDC, contaminated utensils and equipment are a significant risk factor for foodborne illness outbreaks, which is why easy-to-clean equipment is imperative. Not only should equipment be positioned to improve the flow of a kitchen, but also to prevent contact between raw meats or allergens and ready-to-eat foods. Stationary equipment should be sealed to the wall or spaced to allow effective cleaning. Nooks and crannies should be avoided and all equipment should be commercial grade (NSF or ANSI certified).

Distance Through Design

If your kitchen is guest-facing, physical distancing can be achieved through the installation of plexiglass guards at ordering stations and extending barriers that already exist. Sneeze guards can be made taller and queuing spaces can be widened. As customers seek greater visibility into how their meals are prepped, guest-facing kitchens are expected to grow, making these extra measures especially important.

Designing a safe kitchen is a big task–one you can’t afford to do alone. During these uncertain times, Avert can help you achieve confidence in the safety and security of your food service operation. Our food safety experts will work with you to achieve regulatory compliance and full-scale protection throughout your facility.

Don’t wait. Get started today by calling us at 702-706-6574, or visit our website!

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Matthew McClure provides sound strategies that instill cost-effective methods for building robust food safety, operational and quality assurance programs. Along with a Bachelor of Applied Science in Microbiology from The University of Akron and an MBA in Finance from Louisiana State University, Matthew brings over 20 years of experience in the food safety industry to AVERT Food Safety Advisors. His knowledge spans many areas including FDA food processing facilities, USDA meat and poultry plants, dietary supplement manufacturers, retail, cannabis manufacturing, and food service operations.

Contact us for more information:

info@avertfoodsafety.com | Tel: +1 702.706.6574

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