It is amazing how people come together during a global crisis and share ideas that can make a difference in their work. Around the second or third week of my state’s “Stay-At-Home” order, I began increasing interactions with colleagues via Instagram and Zoom. Through shared ideas with contractors and food-service consultants, I learned about some amazing products that will make a big difference in what I call “The Post Covid 19 Commercial Kitchen.” Collaborations like these can create positive outcomes as a result of this Pandemic, make a difference in one’s knowledge of products, and enhance services being offered.
As an Architectural Design Professional who specializes in designing the “Back Of House” in restaurants, I understand why commercial kitchens have specific requirements for surfaces and equipment. When local health departments require a “Wipe-able Wall Surface” or “Cove Molding” at the base of the walls and the meetings of finished floor surfaces, they do so to ensure that dirt and germs can be cleaned away easily and that pests cannot move freely through openings. When local health departments require that a “cleanable tile or ceiling surface” be specified in all areas where food is present, it is because doing so will make it easier to operate a cleaner kitchen. The main purpose of following these requirements is to ensure that surfaces can be properly cleaned and maintained, thereby reducing the possibility of germs and contaminants.
A clean kitchen is a safe kitchen, but we can make kitchens safer by moving beyond sanitary measures. They can be safer by making them Greener! Greener with the use of Eco-friendly materials, equipment, and practices. Energy-efficient equipment such as refrigeration, freezers, and cooking equipment are a Green Alternative. Another Greener method is to add Water Saving and Energy Efficient Equipment in the Ware-washing, Utility, and Hand & Prep Sink areas. Counter materials such as quartz are not only germ-resistant, they are also Eco-friendly. Lastly, there are many non-toxic commercial cleaning products that can be used as an alternative to traditional cleaning chemicals. Many environmentally friendly options can be implemented to create a more sustainable and safer commercial kitchen. Contact the Green Restaurant Association or your Design Professional for additional options.
Personally, I am a germaphobe and I believe that many other people have or will also become germaphobes after experiencing this Covid 19 outbreak. We will expect our restaurants to respond in the aftermath of this global crisis with even cleaner and more sanitary Food Preparation areas. I have gathered a list of products and materials that can be specifically used in environments where food is being prepared for public consumption. Using these materials and following the required procedures that are already in place will help produce safer and cleaner “Post Covid 19 Commercial Kitchens.”
Design Solutions For The "Post-Covid 19" Commercial Kitchen
BACK OF HOUSE Walls and Ceilings: Paint: Recently, I spoke with a painter from Horizon Pro Painters, LLC regarding a paint that kills 99.9% of bacteria & viruses. The company uses the germ killing paint in hospitals, senior care facilities, dental offices and day cares. The paint can also be used in commercial kitchens, along with other applications. The paint is available in a wipe-able finish, ideal for commercial kitchens. Additional paint Information: https://www.caliwel.com/ This brand includes products that are: -Antimicrobial -Mold Resistant -Germ Resistant Gypsum Wall Board (“Drywall”): For Ceilings and Walls, there is an application that resists mold and cleans the air. “AirRenew® and M2TECH® not only cleans the air by reducing formaldehyde but also provides enhanced moisture and mold resistance.” The Gypsum Wall Board is also available in "Type X" fire rated for interior walls and ceilings in commercial applications that require specific fire rated assemblies. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9YVUlm3RG_s Ceiling Tiles: Local health departments require ceiling tiles that are cleanable and smooth, however, you can step that requirement up by using a tile that is mold, mildew and bacteria resistant. https://www.newceilingtiles.com/ Wall Tiles: Kitchens typically require a cleanable, wipe-able surface for the walls and often tiles are used in these areas. In my research I found ceramic tiles that utilize the application of micrometric particles of titanium dioxideclean to clean the air and resist bacteria. https://www.irisceramica.com/active Tile Grout: Look for sealants to help prevent the growth mold and mildew from growing on grout surfaces. Choose sealants that contain Microban®, an antimicrobial product built into some grout sealants. https://www.microban.com/custom-building-products
Flooring: Commercial Grade Linoleum: Commercial grade linoleum is safer and more hygienic than other flooring for many reasons. It can be applied seamlessly and it is durable, and does not emit harmful chemicals. Hospitals, an environment that is required to be more sanitary than most commercial locations, often choose linoleum as a safer, cleaner option. The flooring material is also considered a greener option because it is made from natural materials including linseed oil, tree resins. https://www.spectracf.com/commercial-linoleum-flooring/ Ceramic Tile: If you prefer ceramic tiles for your kitchen flooring, try anti-pollutant, antibacterial technical ceramic tiles. Tile grout that resists mold and mildew is another option for commercial kitchen flooring.
FRONT OF HOUSE Point Of Service (POS) Systems: To cut down on the spread of bacteria and germs, POS systems are available at “medical grade”, made with antimicrobial coatings. The materials of some machines are made strong enough to be easily wiped clean with disinfectants. http://https//tangent.com/blog/antimicrobial-pos-systems-are-ideal-for-restaurants/ Counters: Counters composed of over 90% quartz in a non-porous resin, is basically maintenance free and the material can fight the growth of bacteria, mold and mildew, providing a safer counter surface. Quartz counters are a sustainable choice because they are made mostly from natural materials and are long lasting and recyclable.
Other options for a cleaner and greener food facility can include germ resistant furniture for your front of house seating area and a more efficient heating system and filters for trapping airborne particles. Many options exist to help you design, plan and build a safer and cleaner commercial kitchen and restaurant. However, safer food handling practices and more attention to cleaning detail will ultimately allow for a safer "Post-Covid 19" kitchen and restaurant.
For additional information on planning and designing a "Post Covid" Commercial Food Facility, contact Felicia Middleton, the Foodie Builder at 267.702.0810 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Felicia is a Food Facility Designer and owner of Urban Aesthetics. Felicia has also authored A Complete Guide To Creating Tasty Spaces, a workbook to help you plan and build your food facility.