There are many types of food storage containers out there and materials from which they are made. The right option for a food business is usually to have a wide variety of shapes, sizes, and materials on hand, to meet the changing demands daily. However, environmental and health concerns associated with plastic materials should be considered as well.
Types of Material
First, let’s take a look at the types of material available: plastic, glass, stainless steel, and aluminum are all available options, but glass and plastic are probably the most common, so we will focus on those. Plastic raises many concerns for environmentalists and the health-conscious alike. Not only are many types of plastic non-biodegradable, some can also release harmful chemicals into foods. Even those containers with “microwave-safe” labels doesn’t mean that it is 100% free of these harmful materials. Plastic can have astonishing effects on the environment. According to a 2012 survey by the Environmental Protection Agency, 32 million tons of plastic waste were generated that year, with only 9% recovered for recycling. Plastic products are usually labeled with a number between one and seven, which symbolizes the resin with which the plastic was made. Among the types used, PET and HDPE, or numbers 1 and 2, are the most commonly recycled. However, surveys show that the recycling rate is relatively low, posing a threat to the environment. “Green” food businesses should recycle plastic waste, but in terms of food storage containers, they may want to consider minimizing the amount of plastic used, especially in take-away meals. (…Read More…)
Food safety and sanitation is a major concern effecting the developing world and first-world countries alike. According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), in 2012 there were 831 foodborne disease outbreaks, leading to 14,972 illnesses and 23 deaths in the United States. Restaurants were the most commonly reported location of food preparation. Due to the many risks involved in food preparation, food businesses should be wary in maintaining high levels of sanitation and quality in their venue. Restaurant health inspections are an excellent reason to stay up to sanitation standards, but for those who need extra motivation, these CDC findings show the significance of the sanitation problem.
Safety is another constant concern in the kitchen, with fires hazards being one of the most pressing worries. Having properly functioning equipment and employees that are trained to use the equipment properly is the major step to ensuring safety in the kitchen. Though much of a restaurant’s hygiene is a result of employee practices and kitchen cleanliness, the foodservice equipment can also have a defining effect. Foodservice equipment also molds the abilities of a restaurant to serve their customers, and accounts for the carbon footprint of the venue. As a way to organize these concerns, various organizations offer certifications for foodservice equipment which meets regional, national, and international standards in these fields. Such organizations offer certifications on products based on evaluations, testing, inspection of the manufacturing facility, and test results analysis, providing a safety net for food businesses concerned with the quality of their equipment. Though most restaurants don’t deal with the certification process, by knowing what each certification means foodservice venues can make educated purchasing decisions.
American National Standards Institute
The American National Standards Institute (ANSI) oversees the creation of standards: norms and guidelines that apply to specific devices, materials, and processes in various business sectors, as well as broader initiatives such as quality and environmental management. The standards aim to encourage international business as well as the quality of life of local citizens, through publishing guidelines for maintaining a certain level of quality throughout many different business sectors. Though ANSI doesn’t quite fit into our list of certification organizations, it is an important player in the process of defining the concerns and measures that must be addressed in food safety, sanitation, environment, and equipment performance. The standards they promulgate shape the certification requirements of most of the certification organizations described below. (…Read More…)
With consciousness on the rise about obesity and the detrimental effects of a bad diet on health, many are developing an aversion to fats. However, it is almost impossible to imitate the texture and flavor that fats give foods, with alternatives. Kitchens would be hard-pressed to prepare food without fats, even without taking deep-fried options into consideration. Despite the many options available, by choosing just a few cooking oils to keep in stock, food businesses can easily prepare high level, healthy, and delicious foods. The type of oil used for each dish depends on the preparation of the dish, making it important for chefs and cooks to know the basics of which oil can be used for what. Venues offering food on a budget, with deep-fried options on the menu, will probably choose to stock up on inexpensive oils with high boiling points, such as soybean oil, while other venues will choose to occasionally deep-fry in Canola oil, an alternative which is often considered healthier.
Before diving in to share our top 3 picks, it is important to understand why smoke points matter in cooking oils. An oil’s smoke point will go up, as its chemical structure gets more saturated. That’s the same type of “saturated” people are referring to when they say that you should try to eat more unsaturated fats and fewer saturated fats. The difference in health and smoke points in saturated and unsaturated fats are due to the same reasons. The less saturated a fat is, the more reactive it will be. This means that it is easier for the body to break down, but also that it can react with oxygen in the air to get oxidized. Oxidized oils are even more reactive than unsaturated oils, which can cause health damage when consumed over time and in large quantities. Oxidized oils also have a rancid taste. So what does this have to do with cooking? When you heat an oil, you enhance its ability to react with its surroundings, making oxidation occur faster, and making the oil go rancid faster. Therefore, you want a highly saturated oil when using high temperatures, since it has a higher smoke point, which means it will be less reactive at a higher temperature. Burnt oil has carcinogenic components as well as a foul flavor, making it non-servable. Due to all these reasons, saturated fats are best for deep-frying and cooking at high temperatures.
In June, 2014, a California law was repealed which would have required restaurant kitchen employees to use gloves at all times during food preparation. The law was motivated by sanitary concerns, but there are many other reasons to use disposable gloves in food businesses as well. Disposable gloves enable employees to handle foods with high bacterial counts without contaminating the next dish they touch. They can also prevent strong smells, such as garlic, from sticking to employees’ hands and influencing the flavor of other dishes. As a result, they enable employees to handle different foods without washing their hands as often as would be required without gloves, preventing drying out and cracking of the skin. Additionally, gloves provide a layer of protection, preventing employees with allergies to certain foods from having an allergic reaction when handling that food. The reasons for using disposable gloves are almost as vast as the materials in which disposable gloves are available. Many different material options are available, each with a set of pros and cons. Having a few options on hand is usually the most convenient solution for food service venues.
Different materials have different permeability. The protection and comfort a certain material offers will determine the options for use of disposable gloves made with that material. Gloves with low permeability can be used when working with possible contaminants and cleaning products which may be damaging to the skin, since they offer a high level of protection. On the other hand, gloves with higher permeability will be adequate for food preparation, where the main concerns are cleanliness and odors. It is important to note that most disposable and non-disposable gloves should not be used when working with fire or ovens. Melted gloves will stick to skin increasing the severity of burns.
Latex gloves are one of the least expensive and most versatile options available in disposable gloves. They are also probably the most popular. Latex is effective in protecting against most chemicals typically used in kitchens, as well as preventing food odors and bacteria from being transferred from surface to surface through contact. (Of course, prevention of odors and cross-contamination will only be efficient if the employee switches pairs of gloves when moving on to work on a different dish or (…Read More…)