Hygiene in F&B outlets: Essential to attract Diners

Kitchen hygiene, which involves receiving and storage of raw material, besides the overall cleanliness of the kitchen has become an essential element of food and beverage outlets as people have become more health conscious. To attract guests it is, therefore, necessary to adhere to strict quality control methods. Besides, for getting a license for operation of a restaurant, you have to observe the rules and regulations of FSSAI and other bodies which make it mandatory to observe hygiene in the kitchen environs. Ashok Malkani finds details of how the restaurants observe cleanliness in the kitchens to ensure that the food served is healthy so that the diners can relish their food without fear of falling sick due to unhygienic victuals.
    
Maintaining hygiene in the kitchen is not only essential for ensuring customers health and safety but also for building the brand image. Customers are keen to dine in a restaurant that serves hygienic food. This has become all the more important since there have been several cases of food poisoning while dining out. Hygiene is probably the second most important aspect, after food quality, for the success of a restaurant.  Restaurant hygiene is also essential for acquiring FSSAI (Food Safety and Standards Authority of India).

Neeraj Rawoot, Executive Chef, Sofitel Mumbai BKC, declares, “Kitchen cleanliness and hygiene are two important aspects in the hotel business and have a direct impact on guest experience. These parameters create the first impression for guests, based on which their judgement is formed whether to return or not to the hotel. Hence, for a Food &Beverage outlet to succeed and grow, it must pay adequate attention to its tidiness. Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI), Ministry of Health and Family Welfare, develops different kinds of food hygiene legislations in India, including regulations surrounding the ideal location, neighbourhood, design and layout of the food establishment, equipment and operations along with personal hygiene norms. Eating safe and hygienic food is everyone’s right.”

Rana Mukherjee, Executive Chef, Four Points by Sheraton Mahabalipuram Resort & Convention Center, Chennai, states, “There is a saying that cleanliness is next to godliness but in the kitchen, cleanliness is godliness. The highest standard of hygiene and cleanliness is the only thing that distinguishes good hotels f r o m any other hotel or eatery. It is said that, bad hygiene could lead to food poisoning, which is not only bad for business, but also ethically unacceptable for a chef. Authorities have set minimum standards of cleanliness and hygiene for all establishments, which includes maintaining the temperature of food, cleanliness of the kitchen and hygiene of staff. We at Marriott have rules that are more stringent than the local authorities.”

Vikas Sharma, Head - F&B Production, Travel Food Services, asserts, “A clean kitchen is essential to maintain food safety and quality of the products served to our consumers. It is as important as the perfect ingredients in a recipe or the right skills of a chef while preparing a dish, as it directly affects the products we serve. Any lapse in maintaining hygiene could lead to food spoilage and even make dishes unsafe to consume. FSSAI has defined very clear guidelines for catering and hotel industry such as standards of cleaning and hygiene in kitchen under Schedule 4 guidelines, Safe and Nutritious Food.” 

Priyanka Prabhakar, Hygiene Manager, Hilton Bangalore Embasssy GolfLinks, states “Hotels run a commercial kitchen which includes a multitude of manpower, processing of multiple food items. This is quite different f r o m home kitchens. One has to be extra careful to prevent illness and food poisoning. Good kitchen hygiene can greatly minimise possibility of pest infestations. We adhere to HACCP (Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Points) standards. We pay special attention to the 4 Cs – Cross contamination, Cleaning, Cooking and Chilling.”      

Gaurav Anand, Executive Chef, Sheraton Grand Bangalore Hotel at Brigade Gateway, avers, “It's important to maintain hygiene and cleanliness in the kitchen as we have to keep knives, wooden spoons, spatulas, tongs, and the like clean to help stop bacteria spreading to food. It's especially important to wash them thoroughly after using them with raw food, because they could spread bacteria to other food.”

Meththa Ekanayake, Executive Chef, Mӧvenpick Hotel Colombo, claims, “Maintaining hygiene and cleanliness is a crucial aspect in order to create a safe environment in the kitchen. Proper hygiene standards must always be observed especially when handling ingredients and during the food preparation process. Efficient hygiene practices such as cleaning, sanitizing, maintaining personal hygiene, maintaining required temperature and process controlling during the food preparation prevents food borne diseases. At Mövenpick Hotel Colombo, we ensure all record keeping and monitoring of the above, which is a mandatory requirement of HACCP /ISO22000 protocol.”

Ajay Khanna, Executive Chef at Aloft Bengaluru Cessna Business Park, affirms, “When it comes to preparing food, it is extremely important to maintain hygiene and cleanliness in the kitchen. Diseases may easily get spread if a thorough washing of hands and kitchen tools are not practiced. Since cross-contamination is a major cause of food poisoning and can transfer bacteria from one food item to other foods, it is crucial to be aware of how it spreads so you will know how to prevent it.

Food poisoning spreads when one food, mainly raw food, comes in contact with other types of food. Bacteria can also be transferred indirectly, for example f r o m hands, tools, surfaces, knives, and clothes. One thing you can do for preventing cross-contamination is, keep separate chopping boards for raw and cooked foods.

We follow certain rules of authorities to maintain hygiene standards. They are:

  • Wear a clean apron
  • Wash your hands before and after handling food
  • Keep food preparation surfaces clean
  • Tie back long hair
  • Store food appropriately
  • Wash vegetables and fruit under cold water before use
  • Wipe up food spills immediately
  • Handle knives and other sharp equipment with care

Sheriyar Dotivala, Executive Chef, The Resort Mumbai, asserts, “Maintaining a clean work environment is critical to prevent food borne illnesses. Bacteria can grow on unsanitary surfaces and then contaminate food. Always ensure that you clean and sanitize a work area before starting to prepare food.”

Daniel Koshy, Executive Chef, JW Marriott Hotel Bengaluru, contends, “Hygiene and cleanliness are very important in kitchen. In its absence food poisoning could be caused, affecting the reputation of the hotel or food outlet. In kitchens, the employees have to practice good personal hygiene. This would ensure that they have short hair, cut nails, clean uniforms and are not sick. Since kitchens are areas where food handling takes place, the role of the associate becomes very important. 

A brightly lit kitchen and good clean equipment to process food would ensure that there is no cross contamination of food. As per the local authorities, food has to be processed and maintained at set temperatures, in order to ensure that it is safe to consume it. Temperature between 5C and 65C are classified as danger zone, since bacteria tends to multiply between the temperatures mentioned.” 

Chef Sugata Sengupta of Khandani Rajdhani Restaurant, disclosed, “Maintaining a clean and hygienic kitchen at all times is very important for any F&B outlet. Since we are into the bulk cooking format, where keeping the kitchen is always a challenge, our main aim is to educate the down line staff about ways to maintain cleanliness in the kitchen. We conduct weekly training sessions, comprising of small batches to ensure that everyone understands the importance of hygiene and cleanliness in the kitchen.” 

Gokil Anandham, Food & Beverage Manager, Gokulam Grand Hotel and Spa, Bengaluru, says, “Hygiene & cleanliness in Kitchen is the first mantra for all of us here as it is the base which prevents food contamination and makes it 100% safe to consume. FSSAI has laid down the guidelines to be maintained and we ensure that all those aspects are covered and monitored by our Hygiene Managers.”

Ashvini Kumar, Executive Chef, Four Points by Sheraton, Vashi, Navi Mumbai, avers, “Food hygiene is vital and for this we keep all the kitchen areas and utensils meticulously clean. We follow Marriott Guidelines internationally. We also observe the local Municipal Corporation and FSSAI Guidelines.” 

Mr Avinash Kumar, Executive Chef, Novotel Imagica Khopoli, disclosed, “Kitchen is the heart of any hotel and that makes it all the more essential to keep it clean always. Given the fact that the kitchen is the place where germs are most likely to be found, not maintaining it clean and hygienic will invite insects that would lead to unhealthy cooking. This will further give rise to food borne diseases like food poisoning and stomach infection that would tamper the guest’s health. To avoid all of these, Kitchen’s hygiene and cleanliness is really important.

Our hotel has these basic and worthy rules for maintaining hygiene in the kitchen:

  • Maintain personal hygiene 
  • Keep your work area clean and sanitised
  • Raw material should be kept below 5 degree celsius in the freezer
  • Periodic pest management to be done
  • Equipments kept clean, washed, dried and free f r o m moulds and fungi

Vivek Kalia, Executive Chef, Indore Marriott Hotel, adds, “Poor cleaning and personal hygiene habits, especially in a kitchen, can cause food contamination, food poisoning, and spread of infection. The fundamentals of maintaining hygiene are to wash hands and use clean kitchen tools such as knives, wooden spoons, spatulas, tongs, trays, and any other utensils that are in contact with food.” 

Keeping raw material fresh and observing kitchen hygiene

While maintaining the kitchen surroundings clean and hygienic is necessary it is equally essential to ensure the quality of the raw material. They must not only be bought fresh but it should be ensured that they remain fresh. 

All F&B outlets have to take measures to make sure those steps are taken to acquire fresh raw materials and maintain their freshness as well as to keeping the kitchen environs clean and hygienic.    

Priyanka  declares, “Hotels should only purchase food (not just raw materials) f r o m reliable sources. Regular assessments of the supplier’s ability to demonstrate quality assurance/control procedures and inspection of supplier premises and/or processing plant should be performed to evaluate: Quality assurance and control point programs, Quality control testing, Reputation for selling clean, fresh, uncontaminated food products, Food safety policies, Maintenance and cleanliness, Delivery equipment and refrigeration etc.

The F&B outlets must ensure that the materials are kept in facilitated cold rooms and deep freezers to ensure stability in shelf life. They should also be properly cooked to a min. temperature of 75-82 C to eradicate microbes.

The checklist to be followed should include all food handling areas for their cleanliness, temperature monitoring, and maintenance of storage areas, Hand wash facilities, usage of sanitizers, pest management, food received procedures, etc.”

Neeraj says, “As far as Sofitel Mumbai BKC is concerned, we have established various measures and follows hotel standards to constantly check hygiene and maintain the required level of freshness of raw materials. We have daily rounds taken by our supervisors along with the microbiologist, who in turn takes samples; not only of the food but also of the equipment used for cooking. We also have a yearly Hygiene and FLS Audit conducted by Diversy. Raw materials and goods are purchased f r o m reputed vendors and regular audits are done at the vendor’s site. All goods coming in are checked to see that they comply by the hotel standard and protocol.

About 80% of the kitchen produce is perishable and has a short shelf life. Hence, it becomes imperative to clean and store the same at the appropriate temperature, monitor them regularly, ensure they are pest-free until utilisation.

At Sofitel Mumbai BKC, we tag ingredients with day tags and follow the FIFO (First in – First out) method. The checklist that we follow to maintain hygiene in the kitchen is as follows

  • Check the cleanliness and condition of floor, wall, ceiling, door, drain and fixtures 
  • Check the storage and core temperature of food - chiller and walk-in, as also freezer and deep walk-in 
  • Check the dry storage
  • Check Cross contamination
  • Using proper colour coding chopping boards 
  • Check the reheating food and leftover rule
  • Check condition of equipment
  • Check pot wash station and three sink method
  • Check the cleanliness and condition of waste bin
  • Check hand wash station
  • Check personal hygiene as it needs to be maintained at all times

Meththa maintains, “To ensure raw materials are fresh and healthy – we, at Movenpick Hotel Colombo, conduct supplier evaluations and supplier audits, purchase products f r o m approved suppliers only. One must also conduct regular awareness sessions for the approved suppliers, and carry out incoming raw material inspections by the receiving officer under the supervision of the hygiene officer or the chef In-charge.  

For maintaining the freshness and hygiene of the raw materials we observe the following methods: 

Store raw materials in chillers, freezers or in other appropriate places with proper temperature monitoring.
Use clean containers and plastic crates to store the raw materials 
Use suitable and clean covering materials (plastic lids or cling wraps) to cover the materials when the original package is opened.
Practice proper date labeling and placing date tags inside the chillers as well as the freezers.

The checklist to observe Hygiene in kitchen should include:

  • Personal hygiene/grooming records
  • Night cleaning 
  • Deep cleaning 
  • Dishwashing temperature monitoring
  • Vegetable sanitizing 
  • Chiller and freezer temperature monitoring 
  • Cooking temperature monitoring 
  • Buffet hot holding/cold holding temperature monitoring 
  • Deep frying temperature monitoring 
  • Re-heating temperature monitoring 
  • Cooling temperature monitoring 
  • Thawing temperature monitoring

Sugata disclosed “To ensure that delivery of raw materials is fresh the receiving area should have purchase specifications and guidelines that are set by the production department. Purchase personnel should make sure that all receiving’s done using the guidelines.

Receiving of raw materials, at Khandani Rajdani, is always overlooked by a senior chef along with the outlet purchase executive. Our vegetables are first of all received as per purchase specifications which makes sure that the quality & consistency of the product received are as per our set guide lines. All green & leafy vegetables are washed in a chlorine based solution before it is processed further.”

Sheriyar says “For fresh delivery of raw materials we, at The Resort Mumbai, maintain our SOPs as well as our receiving guidelines. To ensure their freshness till they are utilised they are sanitized at the time of receiving. This is maintained by refrigerating them at less than 5 degree Centigrade.

The checklist that we maintain for kitchen hygiene includes:

  • Daily Cleaning Schedule
  • Dishwashing Procedures
  • Routine Equipment Maintenance
  • Drinking Water Tank Cleaning Schedule 
  • Chopping Board Trolley Sanitization Trolley

Gaurav declares, “For maintaining the freshness and hygiene of raw materials like vegetables, meat, seafood, etc. we should observe the following steps
 

  • Keep them in a Cool, Dry Place. Keep bananas, tomatoes, potatoes, lemons, and limes in a cool, dry area, not in the fridge.
  • Always store raw food in sealed or covered containers at the bottom of the fridge. Keep raw foods below cooked foods, to avoid liquid such as meat juices dripping down and contaminating the cooked food. Make sure your food storage containers are clean and in good condition, and only use them for storing food.

The checklist to maintain hygiene on the kitchen:

  • Follow the First In First Out procedure
  • Label Everything
  • Cold Storage to be done to ensure that food temperatures are maintained between 0 -8 degree Celsius.
  • Storing raw and ready to eat food separately to avoid cross contamination  
  • Ensure a thorough cleaning of surfaces before each food item is prepared.
  • Wash your hands thoroughly after touching raw food
  • Cook thoroughly so that it kills all the harmful bacteria of the food
  • If cooking food in advance, cool and chill it quickly. Discard the food if not chilled within 2 hours

Ajay asserts, “At Aloft Bengaluru Cessna Business Park, to ascertain that the raw material that we receive is fresh certain set standards are followed. The food suppliers are advised, either in writing or verbally, that they should maintain high standards of food safety in supplying food products to the hotel. We accept potentially hazardous food only at right temperature. Food must deliver at the recommended temperature.

The hotel takes the following steps:

  • Ascertains that frozen food is received and maintained at -18 degrees C
  • Washes and sanitizes fresh vegetables before storage
  • Ensures that packaging of chilled and frozen food is not damaged 
  • Does not accept rusted, damaged, blown or leaking cans
  • Ensures that food products were not transported with chemicals
  • Ensures that all food products are properly labeled

For maintaining food freshness we take the following steps: 

  • Keep the refrigerator temperature at 4 degrees Celsius
  • Cool food down within a short time after cooking or consuming it to 4 degrees Celsius
  • Avoid keeping food outside the refrigerator for more than an hour
  • Cooked food is cooled down by various method of blast chiller or ice bath method
  • Clean Cutting boards that come into contact with raw meat, fish and poultry with soap and hot water after each use
  • Clean kitchen utensils with a scrubbing sponge or brush, hot water and dishwashing fluid; and air-dry them after rinsing in water
  • Wash your hands with hot water and soap immediately after handling raw food: vegetables, fruit, raw meat, poultry, fresh eggs or fish

The checklist for maintaining kitchen hygiene includes:

  • Regular Inspection of Kitchen Areas, Dining Areas
  • Guidelines for Staff for Maintaining Personal Hygiene
  • Regular Sanitization of Kitchen Equipment
  • Ensuring Proper Ventilation

Daniel iterates, “We, at JW Marriott Hotel Bengaluru, have purchase specifications of raw materials, which have been shared to the vendors during the time of contract and they are supposed to follow that. We also ensure that baskets are earmarked for vegetables and meats separately, which ensure that cross contamination does not happen. The produce once received goes into walk in chiller and are stored below 5C temp. The thawing temp of meats and the cooking temp of vegetables are noted down for each dish. 

Vegetables, once received, are washed in a tank with anti-bacterial wash. They are then stored in chillers. They get processed as per the requirement of the kitchens and events of the day. The meats are processed and kept in freezers. They get thawed in the chillers and then issued out to the respective kitchens.

We have a checklist which we follow, ranging f r o m kitchen cleaning cycles, to pest control schedules, chopping board policies.  We have temperatures records which we maintain, which ensure that the food is maintained at the right temperatures. We also have food cooking temp logs and dispensing logs as well. These all ensure that the proper hygiene is maintained in the kitchens.”

Gokil  asserts, “To ensure freshness of raw material each F&B outlet must have designated spaces in the receiving area for Ready to Eat, Perishable, Frozen and Dry ingredients. All the materials received should be inspected carefully by following the guidelines. For example Vegetables have to be thoroughly checked for the freshness. Meat and seafood can be accepted only if it is received below 5 Degree Celsius. Apart f r o m colour and odour other important criteria to be checked for seafood is freshness of the gills and eyes should be crystalline. Preferable weight of a chicken has to be between 700 grams and 900 grams.

Gokulam Grand Hotel & Spa Bengaluru follows all the guidelines laid by FSSAI and we will accept the raw materials only from the approved vendors who have been carefully chosen by our Food & Beverage experts. We receive the products only after checking the quality of material by a panel of Chefs & Hygiene Managers monitored directly by our Executive chef. 

Our storage area is designed and constructed in such a way that the frozen food is stored in a temperature below 18 Degree Celsius, Refrigerated food is stored below 4 Degree Celsius, Dry food items are stored at 18 Degree Celsius. All the stored food items are labelled with the date received and expiry so that the FIFO (First In First Out) process can be followed without any hindrance. We also follow the storage sequences for all the stored food. Most importantly our Chefs and Hygiene managers regularly monitor the cleanliness and Hygiene of the storage areas. 

In India FSSAI is the licensing authority for the commercial food establishments and it has to be renewed in regular intervals. FSSAI Kitchen Hygiene audit checklists comprise the following:

  • Design & Facilities
  • Control of Operations
  • Maintenance & sanitation
  • Personal Hygiene
  • Training & Records keeping

Ashvini disclosed, “Four Points by Sheraton Vashi, Navi Mumbai, follows Great Food Safe Food procedure’s 43 points check list, which is part of all hotel food handler training.

To maintain hygiene in the kitchen Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Point (HACCP) is the most widely used and comprehensive food safety program in the world. It is a staged approach to identifying hazards in all steps of food production including

  • Receiving
  • Storage
  • Preparation
  • Cooking
  • Cooling
  • Reheating
  • Food Display
  • Transportation
  • Food Service
  • Cleaning”

Avinash states, “It is often been proven that raw materials have high chances of being contaminated by harmful pesticides and insecticides. To keep them fresh and healthy, washing them thoroughly before consumption is the most fundamental measure to be taken. In our kitchen, at Novotel Imagica Khopoli, all the fruits and vegetables are washed with disinfectants before being processed.  

There are SOP’s in place which are helpful in identifying the correct product at the time of receiving. In addition, procuring raw material from FSSAI approved vendors will also give an assurance that the supply chain is not contaminated. To ensure that they remain fresh optimum storage temperature for all processed and unprocessed food material should be maintained at all times.

As far as kitchen hygiene is concerned, the following check list should be followed:

  • Personal hygiene 
  • Storage at proper temperature
  • Equipments and work area to be cleaned
  • Sanitize the food items before consumption
  • Cooking area should be well lighted and ventilated
  • Refrain f r o m Cross Contamination
  • Cooking should always be done above 75 degree centigrade
  • Keep the kitchen sink cleaned always
  • Maintain the Fridge, Freezer, Oven and other storage spaces in proper working condition
  • Dispose of leftovers immediately in a good kitchen bin and follow the waste management system

Vikas affirms, “Selection of the right vendor through a well-defined vendor qualification and QA audit process is one of the important steps in ensuring consistency and quality of the supplied product. At the time of receiving the raw material they should be checked for quality parameters such as Temperature, Packaging, Date of Mfg., Freshness, et al. 

At Travel Food Services we follow rigorous process of quality checks at every touch point. Our production staff, QA team and internal audit teams perform meticulous verification of products received f r o m the approved vendors by going deeper to check the temperature logs during its intermediate storage and transport.

To keep the raw materials fresh at all times every recipe ingredient, f r o m spices to vegetables, is maintained in the optimum environment to ensure that their taste and freshness remains intact.

As far as maintaining overall hygiene of the kitchen is concerned following the Hygiene rating checklist issued by FSSAI is a good starting point. There are also other prevalent industry standards such as ISO 22000, HACCP and IFSA world food safety guidelines. The latter could also be referred while maintaining the hygiene standards in the kitchen for in-flight catering checks. 

Vivek maintains that raw materials are the foundation of finished food products. “Therefore,” he adds, “they must meet regulatory requirements and their specifications. Some of the points that we need to take into consideration are

  • Adopt the concept of FIFO
  • Handle the raw materials, in-process and finished products appropriately and ensure that the finished product is safe and stored in a healthy environment 
  • Ensure the kitchen hygiene and quality safety measures are at par. 

I believe that the checklist that will help you maintain hygiene of kitchen and end product is:

  • Pest control
  • Waste Management
  • Cleanliness Programmes 
  • Maintenance
  • Personal Hygiene
  • Food Storage Hygiene
  • Staff training

Stick to the following procedures:

  1. Keep the refrigerator temperature at 4 degrees Celsius, as it will prevent any development of pathogenic bacteria in food
  2. Avoid placing any food outside of the refrigerator for more than an hour
  3. Use disposable paper towels in the kitchen.    
  4. To clean kitchen utensils use scrubbing sponge or brush, hot water and dishwashing fluid
  5. Avoid wiping kitchen utensils with a towel 
  6. Use a special kitchen thermometer that measures the temperature at the center of the food and ensure thorough cooking
  7. Do not consume raw eggs or eggs that have been treated with mild heat (soft boiled egg, fried egg). 
  8. Wash your hands with hot water and soap immediately after handling raw food such as vegetables, fruits or raw meat 
  9. Defrosting of frozen food should be done in the refrigerator or microwave oven in a suitable container 
  10. Purchase of food items should be f r o m a vendor who provides fresh supplies 
  11. While Cleaning fruits and vegetables , wash them under flowing tap water. Then dry them with a clean paper towel.”

Rana says, “Every hotel follows HACCP standards. At Four Points by Sheraton Mahabalipuram Resort & Convention Center, Chennai products are bought only f r o m certified and verified vendors. The vendors are selected through a rigorous process and we ensure that they supply the best available raw ingredients. Checks are also put into place for proper packaging and refrigeration. 

With regards to the meats and seafood they are received at a temperature of 5 degrees or below. In case of frozen ingredients, they should be delivered in frozen state or below i.e.18 degrees. Vegetables are received at almost the same temperature. The ingredients are then immediately stored in chillers or freezers. Fast perishing items are used first and we also have a process of FIFO in place to ensure that things are used as early as possible and are not stored for more than a day in refrigerators. 

As at all Marriott hotels we follow the Great Food Safe Food programme.” 

Conclusion 

Cleanliness and maintaining hygiene is an important factor of consumer experience and the impact will become more significant as consumers’ wallet tightens with the current economy. F&B services have direct access to guests’ health through food and beverages. To continue receiving diners, it is necessary that the F&B outlets observe rigid quality control measures.              
 

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