How Cloud Kitchens Are Facing The Challenge Of Hygiene? Ghar Ka Khana Ya Ghar Jaisa Khana!

One cannot overstate the importance of hygiene in a food related business ­ whether it is a regular restaurant or a cloud kitchen. Maintaining proper hygiene is a social and moral responsibility as improper hygiene might affect the health of the workers and the customers adversely. Also, lack of hygiene can quickly tarnish the image of the cloud kitchen in question and it may end up losing business. All the hard work, effort and capital that you have invested in the business would be good for nothing if you end up failing on the touchstone of hygiene.

Since the staff plays a significant role in maintaining the hygiene, as a cloud kitchen owner, one needs to have a separate set of guidelines included in the restaurant's SOP. But before we dig into the specifics on how to maintain a hygienic cloud kitchen, let us first understand why it's essential to adhere to hygiene standards.

Running your own foodservice business is a constant dichotomy. It can be incredibly rewarding, but it's also intensely demanding ­ especially when it comes to food safety responsibilities. The moment you shift your focus elsewhere, a bunch of hygiene related issues will mush-room up out of nowhere.

In September 2019, Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI) issued a mandatory rule for restaurants and hotels to display their hygiene ratings on their doors. These ratings are given by certified food inspectors to ensure that there are no discrepancies.

"Hotels, restaurants and eating joints need an FSSAI license to operate, but food safety standards are not necessarily met," says FSSAI's Chief Executive Officer, Pawan Kumar Agarwal.

Ever since the `Eat Right India' movement caught wind, a number of people from the F&B industry have become conscious about the hygiene standards at their kitchens and this has improved the image of cloud kitchens a great deal.

But with the ever-increasing demand and the pressure to produce and deliver bulk food in time, it can sometimes become exceedingly difficult to maintain the desired standard of hygiene. But it's one area of your business that you can't afford to fall behind on. Hygiene related issues can start a domino effect where one benign issue will give birth to another one and the process will go on until a major hygiene issue is created ­ one that you never imagined you'd have to face in your business. Let us look at some of the steps that we can take to avoid facing such a scenario.

Running your own food service business is a constant dichotomy. It can be incredibly rewarding, but it's also intensely demanding especially when it comes to food safety responsibilities. The moment you shift your focus elsewhere, a bunch of hygiene related issues will mushroom up out of nowhere

1 ­ Pest control
Anywhere there is food, there are unwanted animal visitors. As a restaurant owner, you must have a strategy in place for dealing with them. Ignoring the risk could be catastrophic, as the owners of Babylon Inn in Croydon recently found out. They were charged with 55 food related offences, including a live cockroach infestation, and a severe rat problem. As a result, they had to pay heavy fines, which set them back by £93,000/-

2 ­ A culture of kitchen safety
Rules and regulations are all well and good. The tricky part is making sure your staff follows them. If you're not keeping a watchful eye, simple sensible rules, like washing of hands before touching a food item, can be flouted. Rules do not get followed until the people who are sup-posed to follow them understand the reasoning behind them. It is, therefore, your responsibility as the owner to foster a culture of safety and hygiene in your kitchen. Talk to your employees and help them understand the importance of food safety and how not sticking to the protocols can be bad for them as well as the kitchen.

Oftentimes, a hygiene issue can smack you in the face from places you never suspected. Last summer, a burg-er joint in the U.S. was held responsible for infecting 9 people with the E. Coli bacteria. The reason was that the chef cooked the burgers at a lower temperature than what was prescribed by the food administration. Had he cooked them at 160o F, the bacteria would have been killed before finding their way into people's stomachs. This is why it is extremely important to be aware of all the food safety guidelines so as to avoid any unprecedented scenarios like this.

3 - Maintaining Personal Hygiene- Staff
Besides keeping the kitchen clean, it is also important that the workers who are in direct contact with the food maintain proper personal hygiene as well. Most food-borne diseases spread because of a lack of hygiene awareness. It is extremely important to follow protocols like frequent hand washing and proper sanitization after every cleaning job. Ensuring that the food is handled well should be a part of mandatory staff training. Given below are some safety protocols that must be followed strictly in order to maintain the desired hygiene standards.

Wash hands after going to the washroom or smoking.
· Wear a cap to cover all your hair. · Change uniforms as soon as your shift is done.
· Sanitise hands every three hours while on duty.
· Wear a proper gear/hand glove while handling food.
· Wear a full apron to avoid any food contamination.
· Rubber gloves must be washed during dishwashing.
· Injuries like cuts and wounds must be protected and covered by water-resistant bandages.
· Conduct a staff health exam periodically.

Maintaining proper hygiene isn't rocket science. All you need is a team of employees who are just as concerned about the safety of the food and reputation of the kitchen as you are. By teaching your team the importance of food safety and developing a work culture around that, you'll create a name for yourself in the market that would be a boon for your business.