The food industry is one of the largest & fastest growing and also one of the most sensitive industries in the world today. Consumers, especially office-goers are turning to quick snack instead of the more elaborate home-food. A la carte food items from Mexican sandwiches to Sushi are available today neatly packaged to suit the needs of consumers. What more, some of the corporates have turned their canteens to kiosks like Java Green at Reliance Communications.
Be it Java Green or the Standard Chartered Bank canteens or Café Coffee Day outlet, they all get their food stuff from the same kitchen! Dish Hospitality, 18,000 sq. ft central kitchen that approximately feeds thousands of people 24/7, belongs to the family of Spinach, the Wadhawan Group. Some of the other outlets getting supplies from this kitchen are Aurus, Cinnabon, Tasty Tangles, Noodle House, Sanchos and Nashta Chai. Mohana gets a taste of the food safety norms and cleaning habits followed at this corporate kitchen…
Following the age-old and hygienic traditional practices of the Indian kitchen, at Dish Hospitality, the non-vegetarian and vegetarian food are prepared in separate areas. Food handling areas, carriage trays, storage areas, crockery, baking ovens, cooking area, tandoors and even the kitchens are different for vegetarian and non-vegetarian food.
Two areas vital to such kitchens are handling food and maintaining temperature of both the hot chain and cold chain food items. In the hot chain, food items are maintained above 63oC and served hot. The food is transported in specially-made catering containers or shippers from Kenu (US brand) for cold stuff and Camerooz for hot food. The insulated and jacketed shippers maintain temperatures with a fall of about four degrees in one hour during transportation, which is well within the limits, as food is packed at boiling point. Similarly, food items for the cold chain are cooked and then chilled in the blast chillers that has a chilling capacity of 250kg at one go. Food is transported in a cold state using chill packs and ice packs in the shippers. These again go on a special fleet with blast freezer. There are seven vehicles that transport food to various outlets in Mumbai every day.
The kitchen stewarding department is also responsible for the housekeeping. It is more of manual cleaning. “Basically, with kitchen equipment around, it gets rather difficult to run a scrubber or any such machine,” said Ivan David, Production Planner. “Hence, the housekeeper has to get down to his knees to clean even the not-so-easily accessible areas. At present we have 43 staff doing housekeeping work and we are in the process of recruiting more.”
Even though most of the cleaning is done manually, the chemicals and sanitizers used are of JohnsonDiversey. “We have a chart for the usage, dosage and concentration to get the proper count to maintain levels,” he added.
“The workers employed at the kitchen are living close by. We mostly take those, who have been in this industry, maintain personal hygiene and are in good health. Both classroom and on job training are given to them at our corporate kitchen.”
The kitchen stewarding team works under the guidance of the Manager-Quality Control, Kavita Parekh, who is a microbiologist and also responsible for the implementation of HACCP and food safety regulations. “Catering to the huge masses, this kitchen is subjected to stringent norms in sync with the ISO 22,000 food safety management programme. Dish Hospitality is in the process of acquiring the certification and all norms & safety manuals on food manufacturing, safety & hygiene practices, food safety policy, etc., are in place.
“From catch to consumption, each stage is scrutinised for best practices,” said Kavita. We are also going one step ahead with our vender development programme, wherein vendors will be subjected to audits and guided into improving their practices. Finally, vendors too will be enveloped under the HACCP and ISO 22,000.
“At the raw material level, we have different parameters to check different products. For, in milk, we have fat check and for groceries and condiments, we have food adulteration check. They are segregated accordingly. At the intermediate level, the marinated meat products are checked. Like in the case of spinach, it is checked at the blanched stage, at the puree stage and also at the final stage. We check for the bacteria and microbiological levels at every stage. We have three major parameters where we check the total bacteria count or standard plate count to rule out food poisoning. All food products using egg are segregated for salmonella and e-coli checks.
“We frequently conduct swab tests to check the personal hygiene of people handling food, take the aerobic count in the kitchen and other areas to maintain air quality.”
The Dish kitchen, “backbone of its corporate catering business”, is equipped with some of the modern gadgets & accessories and special cooking utensils besides a bakery. The German-made Rational oven cooks food in volumes at a time – it even bakes, steams hot idlis and cooks rice in minutes. Since the kitchen is divided into vegetarian and non-vegetarian sections, besides the cooking mode, even the tandoors are separate. Whichever side, the three-bucket system for cleaning kitchen tables and knives, using JohnsonDiversey cleaning solution/sanitizer has been adopted. Besides, everyone in the kitchen is responsible for keeping their work areas clean.
The entire kitchen is washed and cleaned three times – after breakfast, lunch and dinner – besides the regular cleaning done by the kitchen steward boys. The drain running in the middle of the kitchen too is cleaned periodically.
Two different air ducts – one that sucks out hot air just above the cooking area and another which blows cool air above the cook – helps maintain the temperature in the kitchen. The hot air ducts are detachable and washed clean twice a week with the Bosch high pressure jet. The high pressure jet is used in the kitchen area, especially to remove stubborn stains.
While the kitchen and all other rooms are equipped with hand wash, tissue rolls and hand sanitizers, strangely none of the kitchen staff were wearing hand gloves. “Well, with the hand gloves on, one would never know when the gloves have gone dirty! But without gloves, one would wash and sanitise hands the moment they get dirty. That is the basic reason why we have hand sanitizers kept accessible to the kitchen staff. We have a regular hygiene check of their nails, cleanliness levels and sores,” said Ivan.
The Dish kitchen will soon get into packaged food stuff with a shelf life of 18-24 months. The machines are already in place and are likely to be commissioned by mid year. The food stuff will also be exported, said Ivan. Dish will now be called after its parent company, as Wadhawan Hospitality Services.
At personal hygiene level, 325 staff, as soon as they walk in to the kitchen area, head straight to the hand wash area with no touch taps, no touch soap dispenser, but yes, with tissue paper (Greenlime from Pudumjee Hygiene Products).
While at the material level, the raw materials are segregated at the receiving area. The vegetarian food items go to pre-preparatory area and the non-vegetarian items are sent to the butchery, positioned right next to the entry area “so that the raw food does not have to travel to other areas”. At the butchery, the meat is cleaned, cut to size for various dishes whether boneless fry or pieces for curry. They are portioned and vacuum packed and put into the blast chillers at -18o. The cold storage area is divided into two – the deep freezer and the thawing area. “At no point of time food is removed from the freezer and directly taken for cooking before thawing.” Not just at the cleaning level, even the crates carrying food are colour-coded. The red is for non-vegetarian food and the blue and green ones are for vegetarian food.
Eggs are handled separately. They are washed soon after they are collected at the receiving area and stored in separate chillers in order to avoid the salmonella contamination, if any.
In the assembling and bakery areas – be it sandwich making or cake baking – gloves are a must. Even the roti-making machine rules out the handling of dough with bare hands as once the roti maker is fed, it portions, rolls, puffs and even oils the rotis, if required.
Apart from standard practices, the entire kitchen has insectocutors installed. In food areas, the insectocutors (Godrej) have glue pads that are changed fortnightly or as per requirement. Insectocutor (PCI) installed in non-food areas, collects the electrocuted insects in a tray below. Since all rooms are air conditioned, every entry and exit could displace the insects from the tray and there could be a risk of it falling into the food.
Simple procedures adhered to stringently ensure food safety and hygienic ambience.