[box type=”shadow” ]Through its free midday meal scheme for school children on a PPP model, the Akshaya Patra Foundation (TAPF) aims at addressing hunger and malnutrition in India. The TAPF gravity kitchen in Bangalore where the mass meals are prepared, cooked and packed is a sterling example of a perfectly established system of cleanliness and hygiene. Vijayalakshmi Sridhar visits and reports on the processes from the TAPF kitchen on Kanakpura Road in South Bangalore.[/box]
Everyday activity at the Akshaya Patra kitchen on Kanakpura road begins with the firing of the brick oven at 1.00 a.m in the ground floor of the multi-story building. From then on, the processes follow a clockwork rhythm.
In the pre-processing area, freshly sourced vegetables are cut according to the fixed menu for the day. These, along with the rice, pulses are then transfered to the cooking area by gravity flow through the internally operated chutes. No energy is used for the internal transfers for the raw materials and cooked food. The meticulously cooked food is then transfered to the containers in the packing area, divided according to the requirement, sealed and immediately sent to the insulated loading vehicles. The last of the vehicles leave the premises before 8 a.m.
TAPF infrastructure and maintenance
A 150sqft cold storage room for vegetables and diary products maintained at 4 degrees and below. A store and an in-house RO plant with a capacity of 10,000 litres per hour complement the infrastructure in Akshaya Patra. Following the FSSAI norms and specifications, the central strategic sourcing team in the head office gives the sourcing & delivery schedule and breakups to the other production teams.
There is a protocol to the cleaning and maintenance of spice and cold storage at TAPF. The accepted grocery items are stacked in designated places with relevant GRN number identification. The food materials are stored on pallets / tarpaulins away from the walls and nonfood grade items. The vegetables are stored in cold room at ≤ 5°C. The rejected material if any will be moved to Reject Material Bay (stored separately in specified location) and tagged ‘Reject ‘ to be followed up with Purchase for return to the vendor. While switching over from handling of nonfood grade to food grade or before handling food items strict personal hygiene is insisted to be followed. The segregation must be done between food & nonfood grade items to prevent any potential cross contamination. The food store and non food store shall be under the safe custody of security and store in charge. The pest control activities in the stores (Main and Day Stores) will be carried out in coordination with the QA department. The house keeping activities are carried out as per the house keeping schedule.
The kitchen is ISO 22000: 2005 certified. In addition, a regularly monitored audit happens for cooked food through a NABL accredited lab in Bangalore. The cooking fuel is steam generated (temperature: more than 90 degrees) in brick boilers and injected through individual lines to the cooking areas. Power generated through a 5.5khz solar panel is used for lights and fans. All the cooked food waste and reject fuels the bio gas plant in the premises.
Cleaning regimen in pre-processing and kitchen
Rangaraju, Assistant Manager, Operations Head, TAPF explains the washing and sanitizing regimen in the TAPF kitchen. “A three tier washing process is followed in the Akshaya Patra kitchen. Before cooking, the equipment is rinsed with clean water (chlorine concentration maintained at 50-100 ppm), then scrubbed using food-grade soapoil, washed with jet washer and then finally sterilized with hot water. The vegetables are washed in the vegetable washing machine and also manually, then sent to the pre processing area to be cleaned and cured. Mechanical potato peelers are also used in the kitchen. The semi-processed vegetables are then stored in the cold storage.
The plastic cutting boards and knives are thoroughly cleaned and sanitized. The boards are cleaned by flooding the crate or tank with a solution of sanitizer; they are dipped before the start of the operation and cleaned with potable water after cutting is finished. Similarly after operation, the vegetable cutting machines are first washed with plain water. Then soap solution is applied and vegetable cutter is scrubbed with the detergent solution and then washed with plain water to remove the applied soap. After that, 15ppm chlorine water is applied onto the equipment followed by pouring excess hot water to remove the excess chlorine, if any. Each day after the cooking and packing are done, the kitchen floors are sprayed with soapoil, scrubbed manually with brushes and washed with jet washers. The floors are wiped dry completely. The vessels are scrubbed, rinsed and cleaned by steam sterilization. Cauldrons, trolleys, rice chutes, sambar or dal tanks, cutting boards and knives are sanitised with steam just before use.”