Food safety has always been of utmost importance, but today’s retailers have a few more things on their daily checklist than the retailers of yesterday. When the days of fresh food preparation consisted of fried chicken and a few cold salads went away, do did the days of rather simple equipment needs.

With prepared foods, in-store dining and diverse menus on the rise, retailers must look to equipment innovation in their quest for the highest levels of food safety.

Keeping it cool

Food prep can be a dangerous and challenging task when it comes to food safety. Keeping foods at a consistent, safe temperature in a hot kitchen environment is a tough-but-vital chore.

Traulsen’s Glycol Prep Table helps in this challenge by utilizing some chemistry. The tables use R-404A refrigerant to chill glycol — through a heat exchanger — down to approximately 27 degrees. The glycol is then pumped through the fixed rails in the prep table where food pans are located.

“The glycol rail uses proximity cooling to keep the product in the pans within the food safety zone 24 hours a day, seven days a week, without closing the lids,” says Laura L. Gutkowki, sales development and marketing manager for Traulsen “The chilled glycol is continuously flowing through the fixed rails at temperatures between 27 and 29 degrees.”

Every fourth cycle, the glycol temperature is raised above the freezing point in order to melt off any ice that may have accumulated on the rails.

This system can be a replacement for traditional “cold wall” systems, also known as wrapped rails, Gutkowski says.  Those systems run refrigeration coils inside the walls of the rail and the coils must run at extremely low temperatures in order to cool the product in the pan.

“As a result, it is common to have ice build-up on the rails that require frequent defrosting,” Gutkowski says. “This does not happen on a glycol unit.”

The glycol unit has fixed rails with flowing glycol that require the operator to use smaller pans. This ensures close proximity of the product to the rail and eliminates the need for the operator to constantly stir the product.

“The product in the pans will not freeze nor will there be areas of unsafe temps,” Gutkowski says.

Spread it out

The more food options a retailer offers its customers, the more prep areas it will need.

“Retail meal solutions have increased at many grocery stores, often with multiple in-store dining options,” says Jerry Socha, marketing manager for Hobart. “In addition to an enhanced deli and bakery, a store may have specialty items like a pizza kitchen, soup and salad, sushi, coffee shops, and a wine or beer tasting bar.”

These satellites, if you will, are typically spread out across the store and your equipment solutions should be as well.

Take ware washers, for example. It will be more convenient to wash plates, utensils, pans and more at each location instead of carting dirty ware across the store to a centralized dish room.

“Washing can be done in a three-compartment sink, but sinks are time consuming, with inconsistent results and sanitation, so many chains opt for specialized commercial dishwashers in each location,” Socha says.

Hobart’s PW 10 and PW 20 prep Washers are designed to handle multiple large items at once and pack enough punch to power off tough food soils that are baked on, Socha says.

Meanwhile, pizza kitchens and coffee shops in the supermarket might do well with the LXe undercounter, Socha says. It has a large opening for versatility in washing a variety of ware items in a small space.

Ventless Energy Recovery technology, which is available for the LXe and LXGe, keeps steam out of the room, providing a more comfortable environment for operators and consumers alike, Socha says.

“For beer and wine glasses, the LXGe Glasswasher provides spotless, taste-free glasses,” he says. “And all Hobart automated dishwashing solutions provide fast, efficient washing and consistent sanitation, saving labor time and supporting safe food delivery to customers.”