Commercial Kitchen Regulations: Layouts & Utilities
Commercial Kitchen Regulations is a broad category and encompasses a lot of important information for the practical, safe and sanitary running of your commercial kitchen. Food safety, storage and waste is a key part of this, which is why we covered it in another post in this series. In this post, we are looking at two of the larger aspects of commercial kitchen regulations, namely utilities and kitchen layout – including suppliers, dealing with faults, and floor safety hazards and their solutions.
If you are renting a commercial kitchen from a supplier, perhaps within a complex or as an individual unit in a building, then there will already be utilities in place. This means your gas, electricity and water suppliers, like your waste management and disposal, will already be arranged. This is important as it means a kitchen tenant can move in and get going straight away.
You can request access to the utilities reports and certificates, if you want to be assured that everything is being maintained as it should. These can include:
- Boiler safety inspection report
- Electrical safety certificate – conforming to UK national standard: BS 7671
- Commercial kitchen gas safety CP42 certificates
In commercial kitchens, you need to be aware of the Water Regulations Advisory Scheme (WRAS). What this boils down to is making sure that all of the water in your commercial kitchen is going where it is supposed to. With the waste water pipes from dishwashers and sinks running regularly, you want to make sure that any drinking water isn’t being contaminated. This can happen if, for some reason, the backflow of water causes dirty water to flow into the main supply.
If you have equipment included in your commercial kitchen, it will have to be WRAS compliant, which you can check via a Work Complete Certificate; it is about safety after all and of prime importance to the business. With rental units like FoodStars, where you can add in your own equipment instead of or additionally to the supplier equipment, then you are responsible for making sure that any equipment you add to your commercial kitchen rental meets WRAS requirements.
FoodStars commercial kitchens are fitted with a Natural Gas & Interlock System. This is sometimes known as a gas safety system and it is used to ensure that gas passes safely into your appliances. It also acts as a failsafe for gas in your kitchen, reducing the risk of accidents from explosions and carbon monoxide leaks.
In commercial kitchens, especially where lots of burners, ovens and more appliances are being used, you need to have a gas safety system in place. If you are renting a space that doesn’t have one, you should look into installing one yourself or asking the site managers to have one fitted as a matter of importance. Never take the risk, especially with gas.
Three Phase Electricity
Three phase suppliers allow for the total electrical load to be distributed safely and efficiently. Most homes are fitted with one phase electricity, and have done since World War II. In commercial kitchens, and in most homes actually, there is a greater need for diverse power. We aren’t just powering small fridges, we might be powering a large number of appliances, tools and equipment, all of which require different amounts of electric power.
Three phase electricity does the work of supplying the right amount of power to anything linked to the system, as needed. In commercial kitchens, it means that your hand whisk gets its relatively low amount of power, while your industrial fridges gets their much higher portion. If your commercial kitchen comes with supplier fridges, freezers, etc, then it is likely to be fitted with three phase commando plugs, which are industrial grade sockets and plugs ‘designed to safely transfer large amounts of power’. You’ll want to see this to ensure your kitchen operates efficiently.
You can make sure to save energy and be economical in your kitchen by using the right power suppliers, green utilities and by making sure that you are using commercial grade systems. For example, an industrial boiler, as used in FoodStars kitchens, saves time and money by getting hot water ready on the scale needed in a working kitchen. Smaller boilers, like you would find in a flat or house, wouldn’t be up to the task of supplying large quantities of hot water, and certainly not in an efficient way, hence the need for industrial boilers.
Before you move into a kitchen, whether a rented commercial kitchen or your own space, make sure that there is an industrial boiler that fits your needs, or the capability for you to be able to install your own one.
With most commercial kitchen suppliers there will already be utilities suppliers in place. Your costs for utilities will then be included in your lease agreement, often included in the rental price. If you want to be able to choose your own utilities supplier then you will need to either:
- Rent a kitchen independently – which will mean setting up your own gas, water and electricity and so delay when you can get going
- Or choose a commercial kitchen supplier based on which utility providers they work with.
If choosing a green utilities provider, such as ones who create power from solar panels or wind farms, is important to you, you can make a request to your site management team. Switching might not be as quick and easy as it would be with your home providers, but it is possible.
The layout of your commercial kitchen is important for food and personal safety. How you organise your kitchen is up to you, but it is worth following a few guidelines to make sure you aren’t making operations more difficult, less safe or unhygienic.
Kitchen Layout Diagram
You’ll notice from the above image that there are clear designated areas within the commercial kitchen. They are:
- Cooking Area
- Prep Area
- Wash Area
When thinking about your kitchen layout, it may be helpful to imagine the cycle of the food process. You start with ingredients, which get prepared, cooked, stored/sent out, and then everything is washed.
Goods & Equipment Storage
You can follow this in the image anti-clockwise, with food stores on the right. These are divided into crockery/container storage, which is separate from dry stores (dry ingredients) and cold stores (which can be fridges and/or freezers). Ideally your stores area will be near to where your goods deliveries will come in. It is very important that there is space here for stores to be moved around in and for team members to pass by. Blocking any access doors would be a safety hazard.
Next, at the top of the diagram, you’ll find the prep area. This should be near to any waste bins, though not near the main waste disposal and storage which will be outside in a designated area for your building. The prep area should have surfaces or access to chopping boards for each of the different ingredients that you will be chopping, measuring or otherwise readying for cooking.
The cooking area is located near to the preparation area, this helps you to avoid transporting raw meats and fish across the room, where it could become contaminated. The cooking area should be organised with enough space between cooking appliances and the serving area. You may want to use a shelving unit above the service counter to store containers for delivery foods, making them accessible and safely out of the way. The same for pots and pans and utensils.
Finally, the wash area, which in this image is the largest area, is near to both the cooking and the prep area. The clear space between the cooking and prep areas at the top and cooking area at the bottom, means that transporting used chopping boards, knives and pots to the wash area is quick and easy. The wash area has placement for large pot washing, grease removal and drying, all of which create an efficient line to cleaned equipment.
Safety Hazards & Solutions
In your commercial kitchen, there are some obvious hazards, such as hot pans, spilled liquids and high traffic during busy periods. But with careful planning, you can ensure that most of these dangers have a low chance of causing an issue.
If you are renting a commercial kitchen, you will want to make sure that they have been fitted with non-slip flooring. Mats can be added if you feel you need extra grip, which can be particularly useful in the wash area where water splashes are more commonplace. Any areas where there is a danger of liquids spilling should have floor signs readily available so they can be placed before, during and shortly after clean-up – until the floor is completely dry.
Hygienic walls and hygienic floor-skirting, such as those in FoodStars commercial kitchens, are important for maintaining cleanliness. As with stainless steel surfaces, wipe clean and non-absorbent surfaces throughout your kitchen will mean you can fully refresh, in line with health and safety standards.
You must avoid any blockages, especially around exits, as any kind of obstruction is both illegal and highly dangerous. This means that goods deliveries, equipment not in use and waste should all be moved to the correct assigned place immediately.
Following the above, logical guidelines will help you to organise your kitchen in a safe and practical way. And don’t forget to make sure you have reports and certificates that confirm the safety of your workplace too.
Why not check out our Starter Guide: Food Safety, Storage & Waste In Commercial Kitchens