Patrick White 0000-00-00 00:00:00
On the Safe Side Discover an array of products designed to make cleaning and sanitizing easier and more effective. If you find yourself wishing from time to time that some secret sorcery or magic potion existed to keep your operation’s kitchen clean and the food you serve safe, you’re in good company. Alas, maintaining a sanitary environment and practicing proper food safety techniques require hard work on a daily basis. Fortunately, though, many products are available to help you and your team in this endeavor. While these don’t deliver magical solutions, they do make the process of cleaning and sanitizing easier and more effective. Following is a look at just a few gadgets and gizmos—some high-tech, others decidedly simple but effective—that might help you in your school nutrition program. Rak-A-Mat from NoTrax www.notrax.com When floor mats were first introduced to commercial kitchens, they must have seemed like a huge advancement in foodservice operations. Mats help provide much-needed slip protection while also containing spills and making hard floors a more forgiving place to stand for hours at a time. But for all their many attributes, floor mats are heavy, awkward, unwieldy, making them difficult to move and clean—and clean under—properly. The Rak-A-Mat from NoTrax is designed specifically to make the chore of cleaning floor mats a bit easier. This rolling cart sits on 5-in. casters and can hold up to 500 pounds of mats ready for cleaning. A galvanized steel frame resists corrosion, and mats can be hung over top of the A-frame-shaped cart for spray cleaning. With the mats up and out of the way, floor cleaning becomes a much easier and effective task. MetroMax iQ Shelving System from Metro (InterMetro Industries) www.metro.com Shelving might seem like a pretty basic, low-tech tool. But Metro’s MetroMax iQ Shelving System incorporates a number of features that allow it to play an active role in food safety practices. Most notable are the removable polymer shelf mats designed to make cleaning easy. “With traditional wire shelving, you have to completely remove a unit from, say, a walk-in cooler, then take it outside and scrub it. If anything spilled on it, you’d probably have to remove everything and clean the whole thing,” explains Rob Kaluzavich, group product manager of open storage with Metro. “The nice thing about the removable polymer mats is that you can remove just the mats (the frame stays in place) from one shelf at a time and wash them in your sink, and then they go right back on the shelf.” This allows for more thorough and frequent—it can be done easily on a scheduled basis if there are no serious spills—cleaning of shelving units, he asserts. “Or if there is a bad spill, you can clean just that shelf without having to take out the whole unit to address it,” Kaluzavich adds. In the event an entire shelving unit does need to be moved to facilitate cleaning beneath or behind the shelf, the system is available with casters to make cleaning easier. The removable mats are available in solid format, as well as with open grids, to promote air flow, the latter being preferable in refrigerated storage applications. “The mats also provide protection against abuse when boxes or containers are slammed on them,” he points out. The MetroMax iQ Shelving System also can be specified with several different frame materials, including all-polymer shelf uprights (posts), which come with a lifetime warranty against rust. While there is some added cost for this material, many customers are attracted to its durability and ease of cleaning. “For institutions and restaurants that know they will be in business for a long time, they recognize the value in these easy-to-clean, longer-lasting products,” reports Kaluzavich. “Schools, in particular, are a strong customer for the polymer products, because they know they won’t need to replace them for many, many years.” Diverflow from Diversey www.diversey.com Even when you have the best of intentions regarding sanitation, it’s still possible for problems related to the cleaning and sanitizing of kitchens to occur. For example, employees can accidentally spill cleaning chemicals or add more chemical than needed in a misguided effort to really attack a dirty surface. The Diverflow Wall-Mounted Chemical Dispensing System from Diversey was designed to help eliminate such possibilities while offering a number of other benefits. “It’s built for ease of use and also for an absolute minimum amount of training,” explains Isaac Peterson, portfolio leader for kitchen safety and hygiene with Diversey. Within the system, chemical dispensers are designed for six different “application areas”—floors, general sanitizing, sink (manual ware wash), glass, restrooms and multipurpose. Separate dispensers are available for each cleaner, allowing schools to customize the cleaning system to the specific needs and of the site and floorplan of the kitchen or other area. “When we do an installation, we set it up so that a particular unit that we mount on the wall will be dedicated to either filling a bottle or filling a bucket or sink,” details Peterson. “At a typical site, you might see two dispensers ganged together by a three-compartment sink. One might have pot and pan cleaner with a down-tube going to one compartment in the sink, and another might have sanitizer going over to the third compartment. Then, at another location, such as the janitor’s closet, you might put a floor cleaner dispenser with a down-tube to fill a bucket and a glass cleaner with a bottle hook-up.” In addition to customization options, having the dispensers wall-mounted keeps them up and out of the way to eliminate a tripping risk. In each case, safeguards are built in to ensure that only the correct cleaner pouches can be placed into the appropriate dispenser. Similarly, dispensers are colorcoded and will only dispense the cleaning material into the correct (also color-coded) bottles. “The bottles have a collar on them that works like a key. If you bring your glass cleaning bottle up to a sanitizer dispenser, you won’t be able to activate it. Nor can you put something in your sanitizing bottle that doesn’t have sanitizer in it,” reveals Peterson. By having the bottles literally lock on to the dispenser, a “closed loop” is created to prevent spills. And the dispensers are pre-calibrated so that one push of the button (the units use water pressure rather than electric or battery power) will produce exactly the correct ratio of cleaner and water, further removing guesswork from the cleaning equation. Safe Ice Sanitizing from Franke Foodservice Systems www.franke.com A number of news reports and studies in recent years have focused on the high levels of bacteria and other contaminants frequently found in ice produced in foodservice ice machines. The sheer difficulty in cleaning these units—combined with the fact that many times regular cleaning and maintenance is simply overlooked—can make ice machines a dangerous trap for bacteria and mold. One product designed to address this situation is Franke Foodservice Systems’ Safe Ice Sanitizing Technology. The company describes its system as “compact ozone generators that safely treat the water used in ice making to easily and continuously sanitize both ice machines and holding bins without chemicals.” The units can be integrated into new ice machines or added to the water supply line on existing ice machines. The sanitizing process is accomplished through ozone. According to company materials, an electrolysis method is used to create ozone directly within the water. “Ozone is a proven, widely accepted and environmentally friendly means of sanitation used for numerous drinking water and foodrelated applications,” the company states. “It has the ability to kill more than 99.99% of common microorganisms, including bacteria, viruses, fungi, algae, yeast, mold, parasites and other known sources of foodborne illness.” What’s more, once the ozone is in the water and becomes part of the ice, that ice actually helps to sanitize the storage bin and all other ice machine surfaces that it comes into contact with. The ozone, however, dissipates over time before reaching the consumer, according to Franke. The company notes that ozone treatment has no negative impact on the taste or odor of the water. Disposable Sanitation Wipers from Atlantic Mills www.atlanticmills.com Sometimes it’s not just how you’re cleaning, but what you’re cleaning with that can make the difference in ensuring safe, sanitary conditions for your operation. Tara Millar, associate marketing manager with Atlantic Mills, says that the company’s Disposable Sanitation Wipers provide a superior way to clean when compared to cotton towels available through linen rental services. “There are several benefits of using disposables,” Millar explains. “First, we offer different colors, so you could assign a certain task to a certain color: back-of-house could be blue, front-of-house could be white; or the chicken and beef prep areas within the kitchen could have different colors to prevent cross-contamination.” She points out that this is the same strategy being used in many foodservice kitchens with color-coded knives, cutting boards and other prep tools. “Not only does it help prevent cross-contamination, but it also helps the manager monitor the staff visually to make sure they are doing the right things and using the right wipes in the right areas,” adds Millar. She notes that even though the wipes are disposable, they are reusable during their life span. “Depending on the application, they can last up to three to five days before they are thrown away,” she explains. During that time, they should always be kept in a sanitizing solution between uses or hung up to dry. “You can even wash them in a washing machine, but you cannot put them through a dryer,” Millar cautions. Conversely, she notes, linen rentals such as cotton towels typically only last a day before they are dirty and grimy. “Once they’re finished, they’re put in a bin in the back of the kitchen, where it’s dark and wet and warm, resulting in a breeding ground for bacteria,” she states, adding that odors also can be present as the towels are waiting to be picked up to be laundered. “Plus, with disposable wipers, you get a fresh one every time you pull one out of the case. You never know where a linen towel was before it was delivered to your kitchen. Your towel could have been at a machine shop the week before, and now you’re using it in your kitchen,” warns Millar. Atlantic Mills offers five different levels of disposable wipes, ranging from value added up to deluxe. “And we have a product that schools just love called Simple Solutions,” says Millar. “It’s a wiper and sanitizer all in one. You take one wiper out of a case, put it in one gallon of water and it makes the proper 200 ppm sanitizer solution needed for a shift. You don’t have to worry about transporting chemicals or having mixing mistakes made by the staff. It’s an easy one-step prep and wipe,” she concludes. Playing It Safe It’s always helpful to keep your eye on the market for new products designed to make the cleaning process easier. Technology is changing all the time, and new products can have a significant impact on effective kitchen management. After all, finding products that allow you and your staff to work smarter, not harder, counts for something when it comes to a frequently performed, mundane task. Patrick White is a freelance writer in Middlesex, Vt., and a former assistant editor of this publication.
Published by School Nutrition Association. View All Articles.
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