The 2009 FDA Food Code requires that every commercial kitchen needs adequate hand washing and utensil washing facilities available. Clean dishes and sanitary hands are crucial to maintaining overall food safety in a commercial kitchen. Here are some suggestions for dishwasher and sink placement based on the Food Code:
- Make the dish room its own area. With all of the water splashing around, the dish room can become a dangerous place if too many people are walking through. Put rubber service mats on the dish room floor to protect employees from slips and falls. Also, be sure to properly ventilate the dish washing area, since washing dishes produces a lot of heat and humidity that can become overwhelming.
- Have manual warewashing equipment available. The Food Code requires a back-up plan for dish washing should the commercial dishwasher fail. The most common backup is a three compartment sink that is able to fully submerge your largest kitchen utensil or pot. The three compartment sink is necessary to accommodate all three stages of the wash cycle; wash, rinse and sanitize.
- Put an extra sink near the prep area. You cannot use the same sink to wash food as you do to wash dishes, due to possible chemical contamination of the food. Use a one- or two-compartment food prep sink to wash produce, for recipes that require water and for filling pots, pans, steam kettles, commercial steamer reservoirs and any other equipment that requires water.
- Carefully locate your hand washing sinks. The Food Code has two stipulations with regards to the placement of hand sinks. They have to be placed in or immediately adjacent to rest rooms, and they need to be easily accessible for employees in food preparation, dispensing and dishwashing areas. So, anybody using the rest room, handling food or cleaning dishes must have easy access to a hand sink.
The Food Code guidelines just indicate the bare minimum of requirements to assure food safety. Most local health departments have stipulations that go above and beyond the FDA Code. For example, the Code does not define what “easily accessible” means for hand washing sinks. A local health department may define it as “one hand sink every 24 feet” or “one hand sink for every three employees.” It just depends on the locale, so be sure to check with your health department when designing your kitchen.