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Why Is Everything So Close In My Cookline?

June 25, 2015

Why Is Everything So Close In My Cookline?
In our opinion the design of a kitchen cook-line must fit perfectly, operate at maximum efficiency, be ergonomically streamlined and robust - to take whatever a chef can dish out!
Food Strategy recently posted to Facebook a picture of a 3D design of an Electrolux cookline with the above statement. This post generated a lot of interest and click impressions.  Refer to the blog header image on this page.

This image also sparked a great food safety question from a Facebook fan -
"Wouldn't there be a high risk of cross contamination with everything (the cooking equipment) so close?"

So we asked our design and consulting team to formulate a response. Here is their reply:
The answer is a simple NO. Cross contamination occurs mainly when you use the same food equipment (preparation) using raw and cooked foods together.  The cooking part actually kills this contamination so the equipment being so close mitigates this risk.  Leaving equipment dirty and unclean can cause contamination but having equipment with little to no 'entrapment' (or food scraps to hide) is a better design than having it spaced apart.

Common Bacteria such as Salmonella, and Listeria are most common in uncooked or under-cooked food. Germs like these die in contact with heat.
Cross contamination of bacteria is the least concern in a high-heat cookline since the germs will only transfer from one high-heat location to another that will still kill it.
Contamination due to toxic substance however is a different case. With this problem, the best solution is to separate possible sources of toxic substance from having contact to any food preparation area. This is the reason why cooklines are not directly adjacent or in-front of dishwashing and handwashing areas and the food preparation area has a stainless steel Upstand that divides the preparation bench and the food washing area.

Regarding maintaining the quality of food cooked; it should be noted that different cookline equipment has different functions.
Ideally to save cooking oil, you do not cook on the same pan a fish and then use the same pan with the same oil to fry a Chicken. Otherwise, the chicken will have a "fishy" after taste.
This is the same idea behind specialized cookline equipment. You use  2 Basket Fryers for deep frying chips in one basket and fish in another, 6 Range Stoves for 6 different pans for  6 Different dishes. You use a char-grill plate for creating juicy burgers. You save cooking oil and at the same time maintain the quality of your food this way. Usually each station is designated for specific dishes.

Also a cookline lay-out like this has the most cost-efficient set up for exhaust canopies. You just need 1 exhaust canopy for all your equipment that generates heat and steam. It saves you more money rather than locating equipment away from each other because this means having separate or larger canopies for all of your equipment. This set-up needs less capital expenditure and less overhead cost for electricity bills.

The Pros, outweigh the possible cons in this set-up. It should also be noted that not all problems can be prevented Architecturally. A cross contamination problem for example is best prevented by quality assurance, proper food management and inventory. No matter how great the lay-out is, if the Chef failed to notice that his raw ingredients have gone bad and still cooked and served it to customers then you will still have a contamination problem.

Response supplied by Dan P (Food Strategy Foodservice Architect) & Ben D (Food Strategy Chef Consultant)

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