By Jenny Eagle
James Day, Smashing Cleaning Services, launched the first of a series of Green Chef networking events recently to bring together people who work in kitchen FM to discuss green technologies that reduce water and energy consumption
Industry experts are urging Dubai Municipality to update its Food Control Department regulations in accordance with new technology, which is more cost effective for facilities managers and helps to protect the environment.
Organiser of The Green Chef networking event, James Day, general manager, Smashing Cleaning Services, said he had been working with government officials for four years to prepare for the Dubai Green Building Code and many design specifications, construction practices and FM methods will need to change.
He said the common goals for FM and people who work within and support the food industry are to reduce food waste, limit the number of landfill trips, use less energy, improve indoor air quality and reduce overall maintenance and facility operation costs.
“The aim of the Dubai Green Building Code is to lower carbon emissions and promote sustainable development through ventilation and air quality. Catering units will have to comply with new regulations regarding this and air inlets, exhausts and the isolation of pollutant solutes,” he said.
“These changes should help to improve conditions in the kitchen for the facility manager and in turn, reduce waste to curb climate change and reduce carbon footprint. We need to wor with the authorities to update some of the knowledge the inspectors have and try to build on that to create an opportunity for people to have greener kitchen operations.”
Steven Benson-Flower, head chef, Hilton Jumeirah, said he had been using Oxytech, a chlorine free food and vegetable water disinfectant for three years but Dubai Municipality did not understand why the chefs were not washing food with chemically treated water and how it can save time and money, while protecting the environment.
The solution returns to its natural components hydrogen and oxygen after usage and is a non rinse product. Customers include Emirates Palace, Abu Dhabi. The Atlantis, Palm Jumeirah, DWTC, The Westin hotel, Mina Seyahi, Dubai, the Kempinkski Hotel as well as the Mall of Emirates.
“There needs to be more education with the Municipality because the inspectors don’t understand how the non-rinse solution works. Rinsing at the end of the process is a waste of water. The whole point is not to use more water and save costs,” said Benson-Flower.
“There are new products on the market now and it’s a matter of educating Dubai Municipality. It needs to look at the life extension of food and the green technical benefit of products. We want to see changes in the government specifications.”
Abdulwahed Kassim Mohammed, food health inspector, Dubai Municipality, who was at the event, said he was surprised at the comments from guests.
“As a HACCP auditor (Hazard Analysis Critical Control Point) we take every approach to food safety very seriously.
“There are many technical issues where it is difficult to define them clearly in the regulation and that is where the skills and knowledge of the auditor can be applied,” he told the audience.
“Dubai Municipality is always looking to upgrade its education system and to be more informative especially in light of recent changes in kitchen technology.
“It is obvious what the Food Control Department (FCD) is achieving and accomplishing year after year to tackle food safety issues. The subject has never been publicized so much as it is today. The HACCP system is applied to almost more than 90% of Dubai’s food factories, hotels and catering industry.”
He added thanks to FCD’s ongoing surveys and studies, it has to enhance and get a better hold of small and medium sized businesses, like restaurants and cafeterias in terms of risk control in addition to tight scrutiny and routine inspections carried out on a weekly basis.
“We have been switching from one food safety programme to another in previous years to accomplish our target and we recently launched the Person in Charge food safety programme, which pushes us ahead compared to other countries,” he said.
“FCD always updates its own systems and regulations in the context of food safety and if there are any concerns regarding the new changes, individuals can take part in our annual training programmes to educate themselves and their staff to keep them refreshed and up to date.”
Other speakers at the event included Michael Wunsch, MD, Barakat fruit juices, Leo Radford, 1st EnviroServices, a division of Smashing Cleaning Services, Thomas Pfordte, business development manager, MGK, (below), transferring solid kitchen waste to water, Tim Walsh, regional manager international sales, Meiko vacuum waste extraction and Chris Rajamani, technical and business development manager, Al Hoty food and water testing services.
MGK, known for its wireless temperature monitoring system, ‘TempTrak’ is launching Waste 0, a food waste digestor in the UAE in March.
According to Pfordte, the system is not a composter because that takes a longer to break down food waste but has micro-organisms that digest up to 180kg of food turning it into grey water in 24 hours.
“With Waste 0, we are helping to reduce the cost of storing a waste facility in a building, transport charges to take the waste to a landfill site and taking away the need for an AC controlled garbage room. It is a great opportunity for improved FM even in existing catering units,” he said.
“Food is dropped into a top loader machine, enzymes are injected automatically then water is added. It can take a maximum of 45kg at a time. All that comes out after 24 hours is grey water meaning it has less labour time and traffic movement.
“The machine weighs 220kg, fluid is replaced once every 30 days, and it needs an annual top up of wood chips, which is part of the digestion process. It takes meat, fish, vegetable and fruit but can’t take anything a human can’t digest ie bones, frozen food. It indirectly saves the FM money, services food waste from a 500-seat restaurant and has a positive impact on the environment.”
Meiko wants to enter the UAE market with its WasteStar System, a disposal system for organic kitchen waste.
The company is known for its dish washers but recently created a waste management division, transporting food waste out of the kitchen in a clean way. It has been approved by Abu Dhabi Municipality and is currently available in Kuwait and Saudi.
“Waste is transported in a vacuum through a stainless steel pipe into a collecting tank. Here, the waste is stored temporarily until its disposal by a tanker. The vacuum needed for the transport of the waste is created by compressed air over an ejector,” said Walsh.
“It is green because it uses a vacuum not water. A tanker then comes by once every two weeks to collect the food. Landfill is becoming illegal in Dubai so eventually companies will have to look to reduce their waste in other ways.”