Since the Government announcement that hospitality businesses can once again welcome back customers for outdoor dining from the 12th April, pubs, restaurants, cafes and hotels have been busy preparing for a much anticipated surge in business.
To make the most of this opportunity, every component of the kitchen; staff, processes and equipment must be optimised. With this in mind, Hoshizaki shares the following tips and guidance to keep your refrigerator working as efficiently as possible to support your business.
CORRECT TEMPERATURE SETTING
Ensure you are running your cabinet at the required temperature.
Always refer to food manufacturers’ guidelines, however some common points are listed below:
- Chilled food should be kept at +5ºC or below.
- Dairy items between +2ºC and +5ºC.
- Fresh meat products between -2ºC and +2ºC.
- Fresh fish between -1ºC and +1ºC.
- Frozen produce should be kept at or below -18ºC.
Running refrigeration equipment at too low a temperature uses unnecessary energy.
Please visit www.food.gov.uk for further information.
DISCARD UNWANTED ITEMS
Any unused, unwanted or out of date items should be cleared out on a regular basis. This allows the cabinet to perform at its most cost effective and hygienic levels.
STORE PRODUCTS CORRECTLY
To ensure even temperature distribution and optimum efficiency, airflow within the cabinet should not be restricted by over filling or storing large items incorrectly.
Internal fans should be kept clear, so avoid loading the unit over any internal load guides.
Ensure all shelves are utilised and not overfilled, and that there is a shelf located in the lowest possible position. This allows cool air to circulate efficiently around the cabinet.
Never store products directly on the floor of the cabinet.
COOL FOOD DOWN BEFORE STORING
Placing warm food inside a cabinet can drastically raise the internal temperature, causing it to work harder as well as severely compromising food safety. The HACCP regulations require that you use a commercial blast chiller to safely reduce products to the required storage temperature.
Only fast, controlled reduction of the core temperature of a cooked food item makes it possible to preserve both natural goodness and the prevention of the accelerated growth of harmful bacteria at temperatures between +70ºC and +10 ºC.
LOCATION OF EQUIPMENT
The incorrect positioning of cabinets can radically effect energy efficiency, compromise reliability and food safety due to temperature stability within the cabinet.
Refrigeration cabinets should ideally be located in a dry and adequately ventilated room, away from the wall, with good air circulation around the cabinet.
Ideally cabinets should not be placed in direct sunlight or against heat emitting surfaces such as ovens and cooking hobs or near areas of high moisture emission such as dishwashers.
Many units are designed to operate in an ambient temperature of up to +40ºC. However, such extreme temperatures should be avoided wherever possible as additional energy is then required to sustain the desired core temperature of the unit.
COVER LIQUIDS AND FOOD PRODUCTS
All food and drink products should be covered or wrapped. Uncovered liquids will significantly raise the internal humidity levels, increasing moisture levels which will encourage ice build-up, resulting in the need for more frequent defrosting. This in turn will compromise both food safety and energy efficiency.
The number of times a refrigerator door is opened per day will have a direct impact on the amount of energy consumed. The unit will work harder to bring its core temperature back to the set temperature point. Refrigerators in most busy kitchens can be opened over 120 times each day, some even more so. If users are more conscious of this, energy bills could be greatly reduced.
The length of time that a door is open will also effect the amount of energy it uses. Therefore anticipating your daily requirements and storing products accordingly can help you reduce the length of time doors are left open. For example, position frequently used foods towards the front of a unit and less regularly used products at the back.
The build-up of condensation inside a refrigerator can cause mould to form inside cabinets, this can damage door seals and impair energy efficiency. In addition, excess water can compromise food safety and damage stored food.
The simple measures below can prevent condensation:
- Ambient temperatures should not exceed +40ºC.
- Ambient humidity should be kept to a minimum, using efficient air extraction and replenishment and/or additional temperature control (air conditioning).
- Ensure doors are closed properly.
- Door seals need to be kept clean and replaced if they become split or damaged.
- Follow manufacturers’ guidelines to ensure condensers and filters are kept clean and free from dust and oil.
- Occasional manual defrosting may be required to ensure efficient operation.
SERVICING AND MAINTENANCE
As with any commercial catering appliance, it is always advisable to have a planned preventative maintenance (PPM) contract in place, however, with something as critical as a fridge or freezer, we feel it is essential.
When signing up to Hoshizaki’s PPM contract, operators will receive regular service and preventative maintenance checks, all of which will be carried out by a Hoshizaki trained engineer or carefully selected partner. During these checks, the engineer will ensure that the Hoshizaki fridge or freezer is operating in the most efficient way and that any potential faults are resolved before becoming a serious issue. Not only can this minimise downtime, but in the case of a fridge or freezer, can prevent potentially hundreds of pounds of stock going to waste.
However, it’s not just the engineer that can help to prevent downtime and maximise efficiency, but the operator too. In fact, by regularly maintaining a few simple housekeeping steps such as cleaning filters and evaporators, operators can further encourage machine longevity.
- Maintaining a regular cleaning routine will improve both the efficiency and the life expectancy of your cabinet. Always use a mild, soapy detergent and a soft cloth. To prevent degradation of the stainless steel, ensure that the cabinet is thoroughly dried and no residue remains.
- Regular cleaning and replacement of door gaskets can save up to 11% on your running costs.