What is a Commercial Kitchen?
The difference between the standard kitchen that we are all familiar with versus a commercial kitchen is that the latter is used in hospitality and is designed to prepare food that will be sold, hence the word “commercial”. Eposnow tells us that these commercial kitchens are built to handle large volumes of people, orders, storage space, and the different steps involved in the food process, such as:
- Cooking (oven, grill, stovetop, etc.)
- Dish Return
With kitchens this large, you can imagine the amount of time spent cleaning and organizing; it is not a task to be taken lightly, either, as safety and sanitation in the kitchen are essential for the consumers, employees, and restaurant’s wellbeing. This is especially true if the restaurant is Michelin star-rated, as they face a higher overall expectation for quality.
Commercial kitchen hygiene applies to both the cleanliness of the kitchen as well as the hygiene of the staff that works within it. After all, they are the individuals responsible for keeping the space clean and following safety hygiene protocols. This is not a factor to be taken lightly as The CDC reports that food handling by sick employees is responsible for up to half of all restaurant-related outbreaks.
With all of the factors that go into commercial kitchen sanitation, it’s easy to feel overwhelmed and not know where to start. There are companies you can hire for weekly deep cleaning, but a kitchen’s day-to-day maintenance is usually completed by the kitchen staff themselves which means training must also be implemented into the process and accounted for. From the moment your kitchen opens until the last person has left and the lights are turned off, kitchen hygiene must be considered every step of the way.
In this guide, the following topics will be covered:
The Proper Steps in Cleaning Commercial Kitchen Equipment
Commercial kitchen cleaning involves many more steps than you’d expect compared to a regular kitchen cleaning in a standard home. Whether your commercial kitchen operates in a hotel, restaurant, spa, school, or another corporate setting, they usually contain similar equipment and each involves intensive sanitation to ensure health and safety standards are constantly met. Some of the equipment you can expect to see and clean in a commercial kitchen according to Toast are as follows:
- Ranges and Ventilation
- Deep Fryers
- Ice Maker
- Food Processors
- Cutting Boards
- Refridgerators and Freezers
- Safety Equipment and PPE
- Storage and Shelving
That long, extensive list doesn’t even account for surfaces, floors, and walls, all of which must be sanitized daily. Most establishments will have a night-cleaning crew that comes in between close-open and mop the floors as well as other detailing duties, but it is the responsibility of the kitchen staff to have the floors prepped for mopping, aka swept and clear of debris. Counters must be sterilized with specific cleaning agents several times daily, especially when dealing with raw meats or other contaminants. Having a cleaning schedule that employees must sign off on is the safest way to guarantee the cleaning is completed.
Bigger appliances that are used frequently, like the refrigerator and stove, require different levels of cleaning and at different intervals depending on the item. Partstown tells us that the following pieces of machinery should be cleaned at these intervals:
- Ovens and Ranges
- Burners, Flattops, and Cooktops
Boil out your fryer at least once weekly if your establishment requires the fryers to be in high use, and at least once a month if they aren’t in heavy use. Boiling out a fryer involves replacing the old oil with water and the proper cleaning solution, and boiling the mixture to clean the interior of the machine. This process removes hard, stuck-on grime and grease, and leaves you with a sparkling clean canvas for the fresh oil.
The rack, walls, and oven door all need to be cleaned with disinfectant weekly and should be wiped with the proper cleaning spray daily. This also goes for the inside of the oven, which should be cleaned and cleared of any debris like dried or fallen food daily.
Using warm, soapy water or a food-safe disinfecting spray, scrub these surfaces at the end of every night so they are clean and fresh for the following day. If you find the surfaces get dirty throughout the day, it would be wise to give them a light cleaning in-between lunch and dinner so that other food isn’t contaminated with remnants of earlier food bits.
Using a grill brush, scrub off the hardened ash on the grates after each use. If your kitchen preps, for example, several chicken breasts, ensure the grates are scrubbed before you switch to prepping another meat like beef or pork. Ensure the grill is wiped down with a disinfectant at the end of the night so it is completely clean for the morning.
Your kitchen’s refrigerators should be wiped down with food-safe disinfectant or warm, soapy water once daily – we’d recommend it at the end of the night. That means the shelves must be emptied so that cleaning is thorough. The fridge handle should be cleaned multiple times throughout the day as it is a high touch-point. Behind and under the fridge should be swept and mopped each night to prevent food from rotting and/or attracting critters.
These pieces of equipment are vital to the integrity of your commercial kitchen, and proper cleaning and upkeep are essential to keep your establishment in line with the strict health and safety laws that must be adhered to.
How to Best Track Staff Cleaning Progress
With all of the varying kitchen equipment, it can be difficult to keep track of which items have been cleaned at which time, and by who. This vital information cannot fall through the cracks, or else cleaning can go missed and machines can become unsafe for food production. The best method to avoid this situation altogether is to keep checklists to track the cleaning progress for each machine, or each employee.
Lumiform is a terrific solution to tracking employee cleaning progress accurately and digitally. No more carrying around and trying to maintain a physical paper checklist that is flimsy and can get lost or be ruined; with Lumiform, everything is connected to the cloud and can be accessed online or offline and from anywhere at anytime.
Lumiform offers several premade cleaning schedule templates that employers can use as is or edit to fit their needs. You also have the option to create brand new ones for complete customization. For example, you can implement the regular use of a template like this Food Contact Surfaces Cleaning and Sanitizing Log so that every surface that is used or touched by food in your commercial kitchen is cleaned in accordance to the checklist. This will maintain the cleanliness standard that your establishment holds so highly and ensure that each staff member is pulling their weight when it is their responsibility to clean a certain machine.
The Benefits of Preventative Maintenance Cleaning
It’s a known fact that your kitchen equipment’s life span is based on how well you treat it. Of course, buying a better-made, higher-quality machine over a lower-end one also has its advantages. Still, even those machines can falter before they’re supposed to if they are not maintained well throughout the years. There are steps you can take before your machines require professional maintenance that involves preventative cleaning to keep them running smoothly, and for longer.
Mr.Appliance, an expert service site in residential and commercial maintenance, provides us with some tips for preventative maintenance so that your kitchen appliances can perform at the top of their ability. These tips are as follows:
- Refrigerator Maintenance
- Dishwasher Maintenance
- Oven Maintenance
Ensure you are cleaning your fridge’s grill regularly so that airflow into the machine is never blocked. The fridge’s coils also require thorough vacuuming so that they never lose their cooling capabilities, the most essential property of a fridge’s purpose. This goes for your freezer as well, but if you find the door seal to your fridge and the freezer becomes sticky, it must be wiped down with warm, soapy water so that the doors can properly close.
Your dishwasher’s filter needs to be cleaned out regularly of trapped food and debris to work properly. As well, the spray arms can easily get clogged by minerals in the water and food, so these need to be cleaned out as well to avoid repairs down the line – this can be done by pushing a toothpick into the small holes to open them up.
Removing the hood’s fan filters for a soak in hot, soapy water is necessary for their survival. Once every three months, the oven should be cleaned with a degreaser if it is not self-cleaning so that it remains in working order.
Now that you have the resources and knowledge to extend the lives of your large kitchen appliances, your commercial kitchen will never suffer a surprise appliance breakdown, saving you time and money. These cleaning tips will also ensure that your kitchen complies with all health and safety regulations, setting a precedent for the highest levels of hygiene within your establishment.
The HACCP Principles and Their Benefits
According to the Federal Ministry of Food and Agriculture, the HACCP Quality Management System was developed in the later 1950s for NASA’s astronauts to have safe and quality food during their excursions. It was been a part of EU law since 2006. HACCP is based on the following seven principles:
- Conduct a hazard analysis
- Determine the CCPs (critical control points)
- Establish critical limits
- Establish monitoring procedures
- Establish corrective actions
- Establish verification procedures
- Establish record-keeping and documentation procedures
The FDA tells us that the success of HACCP is solely dependant on the education and training of management and employees on the importance of their role in safe food production in the workplace. Employees must first have a deep understanding of what HACCP is before successfully implementing it into their workflow. It is extremely beneficial for certified food handlers as it ensures the highest hygiene standards are being practiced during service.
Following the HACCP principles means foodborne illness hazards are eliminated, employees feel safe in the workplace, and customers leave happier with the high standard of cleanliness your facility follows.The Canadian Institute of Food Safety helps us break down these seven principles into action plans that you can then customize to better fit your workplace’s needs:
- Step 1: The Hazard Analysis
- Step 2: The Critical Control Points
- Step 3: The Critical Limits
- Step 4: Monitoring CCPs
- Step 5: The Corrective Actions
- Step 6: The Verification Procedures
- Step 7: The Record-Keeping Procedures
This step includes locating any areas that could produce potential food safety hazards to your facility. Once these hazards have been identified, categorizing them based on their type of contaminant can help you stay organized. These contaminants are usually biological, physical, or chemical.
The critical control points, or CCPs, are the areas where a control measure must be used in your food production process to prevent, reduce, or eliminate a hazard. Tracking these CCPs makes the food industry safer for all people, but especially those with severe food allergies. Examples of some CCPs include temperature checks on food before serving to customers or using a meat thermometer to ensure products that can cause illness (like chicken) are cooked to their required internal temperature.
This step connects with the previous, as each CCP requires at least one critical limit for each hazard. Critical limits are the maximum or minimum amount that a hazard needs to be controlled in order to prevent, reduce, or eliminate it. These limits need to have an actual value, as in a specific time, temperature, or date for the safety of the food.
This step involves monitoring the food based on the critical limits set for each CCP. The categories for these monitoring methods are observation (ex, ensuring cleaning schedules are followed), sensory (ex, using one of the five senses to ensure food is within critical limits), chemical (ex, analyzing the nutritional value of a food item), and physical (ex, ensuring food is at the proper temperature).
Corrective actions are the results of a critical limit being missed. They can be either immediate or preventative, but they are created so that a critical limit is not deviated from in the future. These actions could be as simple as disposing of contaminated food to changing an entire procedure in the workplace to better fit the critical limit.
Because the Food Safety Plan is a “living document”, meaning it is always changing with the world around it, it requires frequent testing and tweaking so that it is always relevant and helpful. The verification stage does just that – audits your Food Safety Plan to ensure it is working as it should, and to see where or if improvements are necessary. There are several ways you could go about this, including internal and external audits or employee feedback.
This step is necessary for your corporation’s Food Safety Plan to run efficiently. Up-to-date analysis of food safety hazards and any corresponding corrective actions must be included. These records can consist of things like staff training documents, temperature checks, and signed-off cleaning schedules. These records must be available to all staff members so they can access them for further information regarding their role in your workplace’s Food Safety Plan.
With a Food Safety Plan and the proper resources on your side, the upkeep surrounding your commercial kitchen will feel much more straightforward and accessible. A great start to ease your staff into the use of digital checklists for kitchen hygiene is Lumiform’s Commercial Kitchen Checklist Template – this checklist will ensure that each step in the cleaning process is thorough and never overlooked, a must when working with a Food Safety Plan. With your staff on board, keeping a clean commercial kitchen will be successful and rewarding. Whether you own or work in a commercial kitchen, you can have a major impact on its overall growth and hygiene standards. Teamwork is a massive part of working in a kitchen space, but each person’s role can make or break the status of its cleanliness and efficiency.