THE MOST IMPORTANT “INGREDIENT” IN A KITCHEN
The rules or guidelines of any food safety system are fundamentally drawn from how micro-organisms (MOs) “behave” and grow. By nature these guidelines become non-negotiable as the MOs in essence set the rules.
One of the first steps to controlling MOs is cleanliness. The cleaner a food production facility is kept, the less likely MOs are to grow as the bulk load of the MOs are removed with efficient cleaning. Also a cleaner food production facility can be sanitised more efficiently as the lower the initial load of MOs and organic materials, such as food residues, the higher the efficiency of the applied sanitising method.
The key additive, or “ingredient”, to cleaning is clean, potable water. Without potable water, bulk food residues and MOs cannot be removed efficiently from a food production facility. Without potable water, chemicals cannot be mixed to their effective concentrations, foods cannot be washed correctly, staff members hands cannot be washed hygienically, and so on.
Thus a constant supply of potable water is a non-negotiable necessity in ALL food handling systems AT ALL TIMES while foods are being produced. The supply of municipal water is often, and more increasingly, interrupted however food production facilities continue to produce foods, often under increasingly unhygienic circumstances due to the lack of a potable water supply at the time.
As harsh as it may sound, the lack of the normal municipal water supply is unfortunately not an excuse for unhygienic food production. The lack of water supply will result in a very unhygienic food production system and should be responded to by either closing the production facility until the water supply can be restored, or by using a backup supply of potable water.
The suggested best long term solution is the following:
- The normal supply of potable water should be continuously supplied from a tank that is in turn constantly supplied by the municipal mains water.
- The food production facility then draws its normal daily water from the tank constantly and the tank fills up as the water is used.
The tank should also be fitted with a circulation pump to ensure there are no sections of water that do not flow and thus remain stagnant within the tank.
- When the municipal supply is interrupted, the tank will initially still be full and can thus can supply the food production facility normally, for some time.
- This will in turn allow the production facility’s management time to plan for an alternative supply without having any down time in production or producing foods unhygienically.
PLEASE NOTE: The tank needs to be in a constant state of flow during standard supply intervals. Having an isolated tank, which is then switched over to supply the production facility during periods of interrupted municipal supply, unfortunately will not be acceptable as these tanks often get neglected while the municipal supply is available and the quality of the water deteriorates during long term storage.
If a tank system is not available or is not possible:
- All production operations should initially be ceased when the municipal supply is interrupted.
- A source of potable water should then be obtained which would most likely be in the form of portable containers of water i.e. transported tanks, purchased water from a private bulk supplier, and the like.
- This water should then be used to supply the hand washing operations. Possibly a “camping style” 25L tank with a tap could assist here.
- This water should also be used for the washing of foods and food handling surfaces.
- The pot washing operations should also be supplied with this water. Water can be boiled on the stoves or heated in the ovens to provide the required hot water for these operations.
- Chemicals should also be mixed using this water supply.
These solutions are not ideal from a logistical or financial stand point, however as the MOs set the rules for food hygiene there is no possible way it can be accepted that a food production facility remain in operation without a supply of potable water. Doing so would place every person who consumes the foods produced at great risk of food borne illness.
For additional tips on water saving, check out our article on saving water without compromising food safety
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