In recent years, consumer trends such as clean eating and fresh, healthy grab-n-go options have been on the rise. In addition to these trends, the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) now recommends more fruits and vegetables. While more fresh produce is a good thing, it also increases the risk of bacteria, food spoilage and cross-contamination in kitchens.
Combine this with the high rate of foodborne illnesses — the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimates 48 million people get sick from foodborne illnesses each year — and it’s no wonder food contamination has become more of a concern.
Considering the risks, it’s critical to take food safety seriously when planning commercial kitchen space. The good news is, you can combat contamination by taking the below measures during the design planning phase.
Keep sanitation top-of-mind in your layout
First things first, take inventory of the food safety measures you’ll need to consider before construction starts. From hand washing to food preparation, set up for sanitation every step of the way. One of the most important steps in keeping things clean is to put your cooking equipment in the opposite corner of the kitchen from the cleaning area (mops, dishes, garbage, etc.). To minimize cross-contamination, have a separate hand-washing sink and place it somewhere that’s easily accessible, such as near a door.
You’ll also need to carefully plan your food preparation stations to prevent cross-contamination. Plan for distinct, designated cutting boards for raw foods (uncooked meats, fish and poultry) and ready-to-eat foods (fruits and vegetables). Keep sanitation up to snuff by making sure there are at least two separate sinks in each commercial food preparation area.
And don’t forget to factor in ventilation. Another key component in promoting food safety is ensuring you have proper air quality concentration throughout your kitchen. Confirm industry regulations for ventilation and plan your cooking appliances, and their setup, accordingly.
Plan for proper storage setup
To meet the fresh and fast demands of today, make sure you plan for the right storage setup to keep your fresh fruits and veggies in the perfect chill zone. Plot out space for safety-first storage equipment, such as cold shelving, that keeps foods at peak freshness. While you’re at it, make room for storage of already-cooked items. Keep bacteria at bay by planning for hot food storage, such as drawer warmers to ensure food doesn’t fall below safe serving temperatures.
Map out your heat lamp scheme
And since we’re on the topic of keeping things heated, don’t underestimate the importance of careful planning and installation of heat lamps. Take the time upfront to thoughtfully map out your heat lamp needs to ensure they can accommodate the volume of hot plates you’ll be serving. It’s critical to get the layout design and measurements just right on these, so you can keep food at safe-to-serve temperatures and steer clear of bacteria.
Play it safe from the get-go.
As they say, “An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.” By considering food safety during the design phase, you can safeguard against contamination before it’s too late. While you’re drawing up your bullet-proof plans for food safety, check out our safety-first equipment to keep your commercial kitchen contamination-free.