Friday, 1 August 2014

Duct Work Cleaning – Commercial Kitchen Cleaning in Peak Summer

Don't Neglect Kitchen and Duct Work Cleaning During Peak Summer Season

Duct work cleaning and hygiene in commercial kitchens is important for customer safety – and the reputation of your business – all year round. But for many food businesses, summer is the busiest time of the year, as well as being the hottest, making maintaining hygiene levels a bigger challenge than normal. 

Many restaurants and food outlets experience a summer surge in business for a number of reasons, and summer 2014 is no exception:
  •  Restaurants, cafes and takeaways located in popular tourist locations will usually have a summer season and some will even close over the winter.
  • As well as serving the local population, there is usually an influx of tourists to many UK cities and attractions.
  • The school holidays – combined with an increase in families taking holidays at home in the UK – means that there are more people out and about during the day, looking for places to eat.
  • The World Cup and Commonwealth Games, both taking place this summer, mean more people opting for takeaways or combining watching football on a big screen with a pub meal.
  • The economic upturn is encouraging people to eat out more often, even if it's only a high street takeaway.
  • Finally, this summer is already delivering far better weather than last year, and many people are keen to make the most of it, encouraging them to take advantage of longer summer evenings to socialise with friends and eat out more often.

But while food businesses relish the prospect of a summer boom, maintaining hygiene at this time of year is more challenging for a number of reasons:

  • Higher use of kitchens means waste, dirt and grease build up more quickly – perhaps faster than daily cleaning can cope with.
  • Kitchen staff are under extra pressure to deliver more meals to more customers, leaving them less time than usual to carry out vital daily cleaning.
  • Summer is a time when staff are more likely to take their holidays, and when it is most likely that the business takes on temporary staff – which means that cleaning standards can easily slip.
  • Higher ambient temperatures means food can go off more quickly and any bacteria present on surfaces can multiply to dangerous levels in a very short time.
  • Higher temperatures also means that food smells are stronger and can attract unwanted pests from much further afield.
  • Higher temperatures, even at night, within duct work means that any bacteria or mould present will breed faster; and, contaminated air is more likely to get back into the main kitchen (especially when the ventilation is turned off overnight), causing invisible but potentially serious hygiene problems.
  • Insects and bugs of all kinds are in peak breeding season and looking for easy food sources for their eggs and larvae. This means there is an increased chance of infestations which simply adds to the hygiene problem as well as attracting unwanted attention from customers and hygiene inspectors.

Our advice:
These extra summer hygiene challenges can be easily minimised and managed with a strong daily cleaning regime, combined with extra help from a professional cleaning company. We recommend:

  • Carrying out thorough duct work and kitchen extract cleaning at the start and end of the summer season. This is especially important for restaurants and takeaways with a high output of fried goods.
  • Minimising the build up of hygiene problems in the rest of the kitchen with regular commercial kitchen cleaning – at least pre-season and end of season. This should include areas inaccessible to daily cleaning such as behind and under cooking and preparation units – even small amounts of food left in these spaces can attract insects, mice and so on.
  • Minimising the impact on your business by choosing contractors willing to carry out cleaning at times to suit your opening hours. Ingot Services can arrange to clean overnight or at other times to minimise disruption to your business. If in doubt about the state of your duct work or other inaccessible places within the kitchen, get an inspection from a professional kitchen and ductwork cleaning contractor.

Call Ingot Services to arrange a visit on 0800 731 7892.

Commercial Kitchen Cleaners – Restaurants Fined for Poor Hygiene

Restaurants Fined Thousands for Poor Hygiene – Commercial Kitchen Cleaners Would Have Been Cheaper

Arranging regular, scheduled cleaning by commercial kitchen cleaners can be a sound investment in your food business, in more ways than one – as some restaurants have recently discovered to their cost.

Courts are taking hygiene in restaurants seriously and are not afraid to impose significant fines on offenders. Here are just a few examples from the first half of 2014:

  • A French "fine-dining" restaurant in Hove was fined a whopping £10,000 in May this year after inspectors found a number of serious hygiene problems, including a fruit fly infestation, a dangerous build up of grease in duct work, and food waste left on floors.
  • In April, an Indian restaurant in Gillingham was fined £800, plus £2000 in costs, after cockroaches were discovered in a kitchen described as "filthy".
  • Meanwhile, a Brighton restaurant was fined nearly £9000 in January, after inspectors found extensive evidence of mouse droppings within the kitchen. In addition the restaurant was forced to close down while the premises were cleaned and treated.

In the case of the Hove restaurant, inspectors gave the restaurant notice of the problems which needed to be addressed and only proceeded to prosecute when it was clear on a further inspection, a few weeks later, that many of the hygiene issues had still not been dealt with. A single call to commercial cleaning contractor could have resolved the entire issue for them in a weekend – and saved them several thousand pounds.

The Real Cost of Prosecution
The fines that are possible following a successful prosecution for poor hygiene can be high enough to make a severe impact on the cashflow of a business. Not many small businesses can easily find £10,000, for instance, and in some cases this type of fine could even threaten the viability of your business.

But financial cost aside, a more serious – and long-lasting – problem is probably the negative publicity surrounding a hygiene prosecution. All such cases are a matter of public record and a court case inevitably means press attention.

Local papers are always on the lookout for items relating to the local area and won't hesitate to publish the details of the case and a picture of the premises in question. And it's not hard to predict the likely effect on customers of this type of publicity.

Even if the hygiene problem itself is sorted out quickly and thoroughly, a bad reputation can take years to recover from. In many cases the only solution may be to sell up or to completely rename and relaunch the business – with obvious costs involved.

Commercial Kitchen Cleaners – Business Insurance for Restaurants
Using professional kitchen cleaners on a regular basis effectively acts as a form of business insurance for restaurants, takeaways and other food outlets:

Regular, scheduled, professional cleans can help to prevent prosecutions, fines and negative publicity by preventing hygiene problems building up to serious levels. Kitchen deep cleaning also makes it far easier for kitchen staff to maintain good daily hygiene practices afterwards.

Even when staff are vigilant about cleaning in the areas they can reasonably access (worktops, floors etc), they can't get everywhere. It is often the invisible places (under and behind appliances) where dirt can build up to a point that it can attract pests, leading to infestations.

In addition, being able to demonstrate that your premises are cleaned regularly by professionals (in addition to a good daily cleaning regime, of course) is invaluable in the event of a hygiene inspection.

Protect your business and make a professional kitchen cleaning service part of your hygiene solution by calling Ingot Services today or visiting our site at

Wednesday, 18 June 2014

Duct Cleaning: Advice from Commercial Kitchen Cleaners Ingot

Duct Cleaning: A guide to fire safety in restaurants and catering premises from commercial kitchen cleaners Ingot Services 

Taking Steps to Ensure Fire Safety in Commercial Kitchens

Fires are a risk which people operating commercial kitchens must constantly guard against. There are various regulations which need to be borne in mind, covering everything from alarms to duct cleaning.

Under the Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005, it's a legal requirement for business owners, including those running catering establishments, to carry out a fire safety risk assessment. This involves identifying any potential hazards and planning escape routes in the event of a fire. These routes must then be kept clear of obstructions, and fire doors must not be wedged open. Fuel and combustible items must be safely stored, well away from any potential sources of heat.

Staff also need to be trained in how to react if fire does break out. If five or more people work in the premises or the restaurant is licensed, then records have to be kept of the fire risk assessment, which is also good practice in any case.

Fire Alarms: Having working fire alarms is a legal obligation and restaurant owners have been fined for failing to do this. There have been cases of people in restaurant kitchens turning off alarms to avoid them being set off during cooking, but this is a dangerous practice, as well as being illegal. It is possible to install specialist alarm systems which won't be set off by ordinary cooking, and to site them in a way which will also avoid this. 

Fire Extinguishers: It is essential that all restaurants have fire extinguishers installed, which must be suitable for the size of premises and the type of cooking carried out. You will need at least one wet chemical extinguisher and a fire blanket. Increasingly, restaurants are choosing to install specialist fire suppression systems, which can both detect a fire in a commercial kitchen and immediately act to extinguish it. These systems are especially advisable if you use deep fat fryers. 

Safe Use of Equipment: All equipment in commercial kitchens needs to be installed in line with manufacturers' instructions, but that is just the start. The equipment must also be well-maintained. Gas Safe registered engineers are needed to service gas cookers, while an automatic shut-off at high temperatures is a valuable precaution for fryers. Keeping cooking equipment clean and avoiding grease and fat build-up is also essential, not only from a hygiene point of view, but to avoid fire risks. This is one of the many reasons why industrial oven cleaning and regularly-scheduled deep kitchen cleaning are both musts.

Kitchen Extract Systems: Extract duct systems in restaurant kitchens must be properly installed, with the correct clearance from ceilings. Kitchen ductwork also needs to be kept clean and free of dirt and grease build-up, which poses both health and fire hazards. As experts in duct cleaning, Ingot can advise you on the best cleaning schedule for your kitchen extracts. We issue certificates and keep full records for your peace of mind so you can prove that your extraction system is being kept properly clean. 

Ingot's industrial and commercial cleaning service is available to businesses across the UK, including those in Ipswich, Suffolk, Norwich, Norfolk, Cambridgeshire, Essex and London. Get in touch now to find out more about our duct cleaning service.

Commercial Kitchen Cleaners: Keeping Restaurant Equipment Clean with Ingot

Commercial Kitchen Cleaners: Ingot's guide to choosing top items of equipment for a restaurant and arranging deep kitchen cleaning

5 Top Items of Equipment for a Restaurant Kitchen

Whether you are opening up a new catering establishment or updating an existing kitchen, it is important to make sure you have equipment which will do the job. Commercial kitchen cleaners Ingot have drawn up a list of some of the items which will help to keep you ahead of the field.

  1. Industrial Ovens. The type of oven you choose will depend on the types of food you want to prepare – and also on the space you have available. Convection ovens not only cook more quickly than conventional ones, but also spread the heat more evenly, so you save time and get better results too. Induction hobs are similarly effective. Combination ovens are highly versatile pieces of equipment for a restaurant kitchen, while specialist pizza ovens can be used not just for pizzas, but also for other large dishes.
  2. Deep Fat Fryers. While fried food admittedly isn't the healthiest option on the menu, it is still popular, and most restaurant kitchens will need commercial fryers. These items can be difficult to keep clean, so you need to choose a quality model which can easily be dismantled when necessary for kitchen deep cleaning.
  3.  Commercial Dishwashers. Some smaller restaurants have a designated team of staff who wash up all the dishes by hand, but this is very time-consuming. Specialist commercial machines can wash at much higher temperatures and get through large volumes of crockery. It's possible to buy smaller commercial dishwashers if space is at a premium. Choose an energy-efficient machine which is also high on performance as dirty dishes and cutlery can damage the reputation of your restaurant.
  4. Fridges, Freezers and Ice-Making Machines. In a commercial kitchen, refrigerators and freezers are needed which can maintain a steady temperature. This will guard against any danger of food becoming too warm when the machines have to be opened and closed regularly. A supply of ice is another kitchen essential, especially in summer, with many uses ranging from food storage and preparation to popping cubes in a drink. Various different types are available to choose from, including cube and flake ice machines.
  5. Stainless Steel Sinks. These will be in constant use, with sinks needed not just for washing dishes but also for hand-washing and food preparation. It is essential that you plan your kitchen with enough sinks, conveniently placed, at the right distance from food prep areas, and that they can easily be kept clean. 

Installing all these essential items, and others in your kitchen, is just the start. To perform properly and to give a lasting service, they need to be kept in good condition. This means drawing up a regular cleaning and maintenance schedule, as well as calling in a kitchen deep cleaning company at regular intervals.

As commercial kitchen cleaners with many years of experience, Ingot can advise you on the best kitchen deep cleaning schedule for your premises. We offer a full range of kitchen equipment cleaning services including industrial oven cleaning, arranged at a time to suit you, and we provide full certification. Our service covers all of the UK, including Bristol, Newcastle, Cambridgeshire, Essex and London.

Commercial Kitchen Cleaners – Contact Ingot Services now to find out about our specialist equipment cleaning service

Wednesday, 14 May 2014

Deep Kitchen Cleaning – Maintaining a Healthy Commercial Environment

Keep Mice at Bay: How to Avoid Kitchen Nightmares with Deep Cleaning

If you are running a cafe, hotel or bar, the last thing you want is to find mice running about in the kitchen. One Brighton restaurant was landed a £10,000 bill after failing to tackle a mouse infestation. Yet the problem could easily have been avoided by imposing adequate hygiene measures including deep kitchen cleaning.

The restaurant was prosecuted twice by Brighton and Hove City Council and admitted five food hygiene offences. This incident underlines how important it is to maintain a clean kitchen environment in any catering establishment. Neglecting this basic duty of care can put staff and customers at risk, and damage your business reputation.  

Dealing with an Infestation
After someone reported a mouse problem at the restaurant in question, the Brighton and Hove Council food safety team paid a visit. Their discoveries included mouse droppings on shelves and floors and even on food. There was also poorly-wrapped food lying around, which attracted the mice, and unclean surfaces, with a build-up of grease on walls.

This type of incident is a particular worry because mice can spread illnesses, such as food poisoning. They taint not only the foods they actually nibble, but also other foodstuffs in the vicinity – as well as damaging equipment and cables. 

All this makes it vital to tackle an infestation quickly. At the first sign of mice, any restaurant should contact a pest control organisation. Expert pest controllers can quickly get rid of the rodents and also take preventative action to keep them out of the building.

Deep Kitchen Cleaning
Tackling the vermin themselves is only part of the answer to this type of incident, which also underlines the importance of basic kitchen hygiene. Aside from adequate pest control measures, to ensure complete cleanliness the only way to go forward after an infestation is to undertake deep kitchen cleaning. 

Deep cleaning gets to all the places you can't reach during daily kitchen cleaning, including hidden parts of cooking equipment and areas under and behind machinery. As a specialist kitchen deep cleaning company, Ingot can undertake a comprehensive service to ensure all these potential trouble spots are thoroughly cleaned. 

Working from the ceiling right down to the floor, we clean all preparation surfaces and strip down all equipment, reassembling it after the work. Deep cleans can be carried out as a one-off, for instance, at the end or start of a season or after a change of ownership. However, our advice would be to schedule regular deep cleaning, which underpins the daily cleaning by staff. Every catering business should have a deep clean at least annually, but Ingot can advise you on the optimum frequency for your business.

Deep kitchen cleaning reduces the risk of infestation by mice and other pests, but that is just one of its advantages. It will also lead to better hygiene all round, helping to protect customers and staff alike. Yet another plus is that it will demonstrate your commitment to cleanliness, potentially helping you to achieve a higher “score on the door” from environmental health officers. After every deep clean, Ingot provides a certificate to show  you have reached the highest standards of hygiene. 

Our service is available throughout the UK, in areas including Norfolk, Suffolk, Essex, London, Manchester and Liverpool. 

Ingot Services  – Click here to find out more about our deep kitchen cleaning.

Air Duct Cleaning – Air Conditioning Duct Cleaning – All about Sick Building Syndrome

What is Sick Building Syndrome and What Causes it?

One of the many reasons for regular air duct cleaning in the workplace is that it helps to keep your staff and customers healthy. In particular, taking this precaution is a way to combat sick building syndrome.
This is a genuine condition, recognised by doctors, where people can become ill if they spend a lot of time in a building, usually a place of work. The syndrome usually occurs in buildings with many people working in close proximity and little access to outside air, because of windows being kept closed. It can occur everywhere from office blocks to hospitals. 

Recent studies estimate absenteeism and loss of production cost UK industry around £500 million a year. Public concern over this has risen during the last decade, and there has been increasing education over how to avoid workplace illness. Managers are responsible for healthy indoor air and other factors affecting the health of their employees at work, as stated in Health and Safety at work regulations and the Control of Substances Hazardous to Health (COSHH) regulations.

Symptoms of Sick Building Syndrome

The most common symptom among people suffering from sick building syndrome is fatigue, which can make it hard to concentrate. Other symptoms include eye problems and nose and throat irritation. Sufferers might also suffer from aches and pains, nausea, dizziness and headaches, as well as dry skin.  

These symptoms could also be caused by other factors, such as viruses. However, if a number of colleagues notice the same problems, then sick building syndrome might be the cause. Official NHS advice is to raise the issue with a health and safety representative, and the employer then has a duty to look into the problem.

The Causes of Sick Building Syndrome

There are believed to be various causes of sick building syndrome, but among them is inadequate ventilation, with not enough outside air coming in. Dirty air conditioning units, contaminated duct work and filters which need replacing are also implicated. The Health and Safety Executive advises employers to carry out a survey of staff and examine the cleanliness of the whole building, including heating, ventilation and air conditioning (HVAC) systems. 

If you discover that there is a build-up of grease and dirt in air conditioning systems, or that filters need replacing, contact an air duct cleaning specialist and arrange for your system to be cleaned. Also check the schedule you have for ventilation duct cleaning is suitable, as you might need to up its frequency. 

How to Prevent Sick Building Syndrome

Sick building syndrome obviously affects individuals in the workplace, but it also affects businesses, with staff taking days off sick and resulting loss of production. It could even lead to people leaving their jobs because of the bad conditions, and make it harder to recruit replacements.

For all these reasons, businesses must work to prevent sick building syndrome, and one of the easiest ways to do this is to schedule regular air duct cleaning. Ingot can help to draw up a schedule that is right for your organisation. Effective ductwork cleaning will help both the workforce and the employer, improving health and helping productivity. Our nationwide service is available in areas including Ipswich and Suffolk, Norwich and Norfolk, Cambridgeshire, Bristol and London.  

Ingot Services  – Follow the link for more information or call 0800 731 7892.

Wednesday, 23 April 2014

Deep Kitchen Cleaning: Maintaining Top Levels of Hygiene in Restaurants

5 Reasons Deep Kitchen Cleaning Should Not Be Just "One Off Cleans"

Many restaurant owners only decide on deep kitchen cleaning as a one-off measure – perhaps when they are taking over new premises, or at the start or end of a season. However, this type of cleaning should be built into your schedule, to guard against problems before they occur. Here is a look at five reasons why deep cleaning is essential. 

1. Daily cleaning can't reach everywhere
Even if staff are following cleaning rotas diligently, the fact is that there will be places that they just can't reach – for instance, under or behind machines and counters. This means there WILL be build-up of dirt and grease in some corners or gaps. However careful you are in cleaning all visible areas, this build-up in the areas you can't see will eventually compromise your kitchen hygiene – so it needs to be addressed regularly. 
It is also vital to remember that grease will be building up unseen in your kitchen extracts, so a proper schedule for ductwork cleaning is another part of maintaining top levels of hygiene and safety. 
2. Proactive, not reactive
Deep cleaning is sometimes seen as an "emergency" measure – reacting to a perceived or actual problem. But this isn't the right approach to safeguard both diners and the restaurant's reputation. Instead, restaurateurs need to take preventative measures, and ensure that cleanliness is maintained at a high level as a matter of course.
3. A cornerstone of good food hygiene ratings
Having an excellent food hygiene rating is being seen more and more as a competitive advantage by food businesses. Many establishments with 5 stars display their “score on the door” prominently and there is no doubt that meeting this standard helps to attract customers. Regular, scheduled deep kitchen cleaning is a cornerstone of these ratings and helps to ensure that kitchens meet the gold standard.
4. Instil pride and professionalism
Regular kitchen deep cleaning sends a powerful message to all staff that your establishment works to the highest standards. Bringing in a professional kitchen deep cleaning company to carry out this task will set the tone and tell your own staff what you expect from them. This is likely not only to boost standards of hygiene generally, but also increase a sense of professionalism. Staff who are proud of the place where they work will be more motivated – and this will translate into general customer service and attitude.
5. It doesn't have to be disruptive
Many establishments put off deep kitchen cleaning because they can't work out how to fit it in around a busy restaurant schedule. But, as professional commercial kitchen cleaners, Ingot make it easy by arranging to clean at times which will suit you. If you have any concerns about scheduling, contact us and we will arrange a visit to look at what is involved and discuss your needs with you. We will also provide you with a certificate once the deep cleaning has been done, giving proof that your kitchen has achieved the highest standards of hygiene.

As commercial cleaning contractors serving businesses across the UK, Ingot can arrange a schedule of kitchen deep cleaning which is suited to the needs of your restaurant. We can also arrange one-off deep cleans where required. The areas we serve include Ipswich and Suffolk, Norwich and Norfolk, Essex, Cambridgeshire, London and further afield.
Deep Kitchen Cleaning – Click the link for more information or call Ingot on 0800 731 7892.

Ductwork Cleaning: Ingot Services Cleans Kitchen Extraction Systems

Fire Insurers Set for Ductwork Cleaning Crackdown

When restaurants fail to carry out vital ductwork cleaning, the risk of grease build-up causing fires isn't just a theoretical possibility. It is a real and present danger and is happening more frequently, as evidenced by the Association of British Insurers (ABI). 

Its figures show that the cost to insurers of fires caused by grease and dirt in extraction systems has more than doubled, from £25 million to £65 million, over just two years. But what's behind this increase, and how should businesses respond?

Reasons to Step Up Ductwork Cleaning

Already, a ductwork cleaning certificate is mandatory for fire insurance to be valid. However, looking forward, businesses can expect insurance companies to get stricter about this. They are likely to want to see proof not only that air duct cleaning has been scheduled, but also that its frequency is appropriate to the level of use. Increasingly, insurers are refusing cover to restaurants which don't arrange adequate cleaning, and they may even refuse to pay out after a blaze if it is caused by neglecting this precaution.

There are various reasons why your schedule may need to be reviewed. For instance, if business has picked up recently, kitchen extract cleaning could be needed more frequently than the statutory minimum of once per year. This is because more cooking means a faster build-up of grease. Another factor to consider is whether your menu has altered. A change in customer demand, the season or even shifts in food fashion could mean a change in oil or grease levels. For instance, if you cook more burgers and fry-ups than you used to, that is something to bear in mind.

Your cleaning timetable may also need a rethink if the opening hours of your business have expanded. Perhaps you are staying open later or opening at weekends, or you might have added a lunch service as well as evening dining. Any of these changes will put more pressure on kitchen extract systems.

A Shift in Thinking

All businesses obviously have to consider their budgets, and therefore there may be a temptation only to do the statutory minimum when it comes to scheduling maintenance. However, companies should think less about being compliant on paper and more about protecting their businesses from the risk of fire. 
If your catering firm has to shut down temporarily because of damage to your building, the costs will far outweigh those of preventing the fire in the first place. There is also a risk that customers will go elsewhere during the shutdown and be lost for good. And, of course, no price can be put on the risk to human life posed by any fire.

All this means that professional advice is needed about the optimum frequency of duct cleaning for your particular business to ensure fire safety. The officially recommended levels are that extract ductwork should be cleaned annually if there is only light use of the kitchen, for up to six hours a day. However, if usage goes up to between six and 12 hours daily, six-monthly cleaning is needed – and if usage is between 12 and 16 hours, which is the case with many busy commercial kitchens, you need to schedule it in every three months. 

About Ingot Services

Ductwork cleaning experts Ingot can carry out inspections as well as cleaning, and can advise on whether your current schedule is adequate. This is especially important if there have been any changes in the way the kitchen is used since your schedule was agreed. We provide a UK-wide service, including London, Suffolk, Norfolk, Manchester, Birmingham and Newcastle. Call 0800 731 7892 or follow the link  for a free quote.

Thursday, 20 February 2014

Industrial Kitchen Cleaning – Ventilation Cleaners – How Regular Duct Work Cleaning Can Help Prevent Restaurant Fires

Regular Industrial Kitchen Cleaning – A Vital Way to Minimise the Risk of a Restaurant Fire 

Regular industrial kitchen cleaning is vital - that’s the message from Suffolk Fire & Rescue Service after a blaze ripped through a popular Ipswich town centre restaurant.

Eight fire crews tackled the fire which broke out in the kitchen of at the Townhouse Restaurant in Orwell Place on the morning of January 8.

Fortunately, no one was injured in the blaze, but a spokesman for the fire service said it had caused ‘substantial’ damage to the venue.

The cause of the fire was accidental and it had started in the mesh filter of the extraction system, prompting a warning from the investigating fire officer for restaurant owners to regularly maintain their kitchen ductwork.

Officer Chris Gibbs, of Suffolk Fire & Rescue Service, who carried out the investigation into the blaze, said: “Fires in extraction systems are not uncommon. Kitchen extraction systems naturally become contaminated with combustible materials as they remove grease and other products from the kitchen during cooking; these build up over time within the filters and duct work. 

“The filters and ducting should be cleaned regularly to help prevent this and to remove combustible materials.”

He emphasised, however, that regular industrial kitchen cleaning regimes were in place at the Townhouse, and added that he was unsure whether there was a standard to which this should be done.

The blaze, in the kitchen extraction system, ripped through the entire ducting, breaking out at the joins, before spreading to the fabric of the building, causing damage to the first floor and roof.

To help prevent future restaurant fires, Officer Gibbs warned of the importance of industrial kitchen cleaning, saying the risk of fire within a property is increased if duct work is not maintained:

“Fire can spread quickly and unseen throughout an extraction system,” he said. ”It is likely to intensify and may not be seen until it breaks through. Regular cleaning of all parts of the system should reduce the risk of fire starting or spreading.”

He said there are various steps that all businesses should take to minimise the risk of fire. 

This includes completing a fire risk assessment which should take into account the sources of ignition, combustible materials present, and measures to lessen the risk of a blaze in the property.

The kitchen extract system and its ducting should be included in the risk assessment, and any fire prevention measures such as means to isolate the system and installing fixed fire fighting systems within it, to help put out the fire. Or, if it is safe to tackle the fire, the use of portable fire fighting equipment.

Businesses should also have an evacuation plan to ensure the safe exit of staff and customers.

Officer Gibbs said: “In the event of a fire, the best and safest advice is to isolate any apparatus if possible, raise the alarm, evacuate the building and call the Fire and Rescue Service.”

Businesses take time to recover from fire due to the potential delays with insurance payments, staff retention and possible loss of customer base, as well as the time it takes to replace damaged buildings and equipment.

Officer Gibbs added that the best way to ensure business continuity is to prevent a fire from happening in the first place.

Two chefs from the Townhouse raised the alarm at the first sign of smoke, and there were no suspicious circumstances surrounding the fire.

Diversions were in place so fire fighters could tackle the blaze and investigate the cause of the fire.
Duct work cleaning must be carried out every two years by law, although Ingot Services advised that the busiest kitchens should have a more regular cleaning regime. 

Organising industrial kitchen cleaning, including regular commercial ductwork cleaning is one way to prevent kitchen fires. For complete peace of mind and a free of charge quotation, call us today on 0800 731 7892.

Commercial Ductwork Cleaning – Ventilation Cleaners – Respiratory Diseases from Unclean Air Conditioning

Commercial Ductwork Cleaning – Is There a Link Between Dirty Air Conditioning Ductwork and Respiratory Disease?

If you don’t organise regular commercial ductwork cleaning for your business, there’s no getting away from it – it does have its consequences. While putting off ductwork cleaning may save money in the short term, this won’t pay off in the long term as dirty ductwork can pose as a health hazard for staff and customers.

The start of the New Year is always a good time to take stock of your organisation and think about ways to improve it. This should not only be about reviewing staffing and finances, but also to consider ways to eliminate potential hazards in order to keep a healthy and happy workforce.

Cleanliness, in particular, should be high priority as this is vital to the reputation of your organisation and helps your business run more efficiently. Ventilation cleaning is one of the things that should feature on your list, as neglecting this is detrimental to the health of your staff and can ultimately affect the output of your business.

Putting off ventilation cleaning won’t help keep your workforce healthy. Staff sickness leads to lost work hours and this slows down productivity. If deadlines can’t be met, it is hard to make up for the lost time and this is particularly damaging for smaller companies without enough staff to fill the void.

This article spotlights why commercial ductwork cleaning is essential to the smooth running of your company and considers the link between dirty ductwork and respiratory disease – and what you can do to prevent this.

Dirty Air Conditioning Ductwork and Respiratory Disease – Is there a Link? 

With most air conditioning systems, a proportion of the air that supplies your office is taken from outside, and a portion is re-circulated air. If the air does not circulate properly, this can create a hot and stuffy environment which is not only unhealthy, but is also unpleasant to work in. It is vital to organise regular maintenance of your air conditioning ductwork and to remove obstructions, check for leaks in the system, clean components and replace filters. This is for two main reasons:

  • A build up of dirt and grime restricts the air flow and can impact on the air quality within the building. 
  • Germs, mould, and other contaminants can harbour in unclean air conditioning ductwork which creates an unhealthy work environment.
Recent studies have shown that workers who spend a long period of time in air conditioned buildings are more susceptible to respiratory related illnesses such as breathing difficulties, wheezing, and coughing. And, if there are other people sharing the same room, it will put them at risk of infection too. It was recommended that the regular cleaning and maintenance of air conditioning ductwork will help minimise the risk.

Dirty air conditioning ductwork can also put people at risk of hypersensitivity pneumonitis – a disease which can be caused by bacteria and fungi in air conditioning equipment and humidifiers. Among the symptoms are chills and fever, coughing and breathlessness and in more serious cases, a loss of appetite and weight loss.

The best way to reduce the risk in your workplace environment is by organising industrial cleaning, including regular commercial ductwork cleaning and air conditioning cleaning.

For a free of charge quotation, call us today on 0800 731 7892 and you can look forward to a healthier workplace environment in 2014.

Friday, 24 January 2014

Duct Work Cleaning: How Often Should Your Kitchen Extracts Be Cleaned?

Is Duct Work Cleaning Every 2 Years Enough?

As a general rule, the minimum requirement for duct work cleaning is every 2 years, but for many businesses a more frequent schedule is vital. As a business owner, you have a duty to ensure that extract cleaning is carried out as often as necessary to keep air quality to acceptable levels. How quickly ducts and filters need cleaning will vary, depending on the type of use and type of occupants. 

The Law
Current legislation states that duct work cleaning must be carried out at least every 2 years for general systems, such as air conditioning for offices. However, there is a more frequent requirement for yearly cleaning of kitchen extracts and duct work. Although "every 2 years" or "every 1 year" is often regarded as the guideline, the law actually says each premises must be assessed on its own requirements. That means you need to call on professional expertise to get the frequency of industrial extraction cleaning right.

Under fire regulations, as well as those covering health and safety at work, the manager of any workplace must take action to eradicate any risks or keep them to a minimum. These rules make it a requirement to check kitchen extract systems in order to find any possible fire dangers, and act to remove them by ensuring any grease build-up is regularly cleared.  

Reasons You Might Need More Frequent Duct Work Cleaning
If you work in an establishment which has high levels of airborne dust or grease, it is likely your duct work will need to be cleaned far more frequently than the legal minimums. This especially applies to kitchens where equipment such as deep fat fryers, grills, wood or charcoal burners is used.

According to expert duct cleaners, in some hamburger restaurants using this kind of equipment, especially those open round the clock, duct work cleaning may be needed as often as monthly. For some other fast food outlets, the suggested frequency is around every two months, while a 90-day regime may be appropriate for most restaurants and works canteens. In some smaller restaurants, six-monthly kitchen extract cleaning is suitable, but you should get expert advice to decide on the optimum schedule for your particular business. 

Other types of business where frequent industrial extraction cleaning is necessary include manufacturing works, such as printworks and those handling paper or textiles. Workplaces close to an external source of pollution, such as motorways, factories or chimneys, are also likely to require duct work cleaning at shorter intervals than the statutory norm. In these types of premises, where there is heavy use, of up to 16 hours a day, the typical cleaning schedule should be every three months. When premises are in use for between 6 and 12 hours, that may come down to six monthly. 

Greater frequency of extract cleaning is also advised in any establishment with vulnerable occupants, such as kitchens serving schools, care homes and hospices. Ingot has carried out air duct cleaning for a care home group in East Anglia for the last five years, and liaises with facility managers at each site in the group to ensure  cleaning is carried out at a convenient time. 

How Can I Tell What Frequency is Right For Me?
Duct cleaning contractor Ingot can inspect your duct work and give you advice based on the last cleaning date and the current level of build up. We will also take into account factors such as the level of usage and the environment.

If you are unsure over the best schedule, the way forward is to take advice from a professional cleaning company. This will help to protect you under legislation and will also ensure that your duct work will always be kept to an acceptable standard of cleanliness.

Duct Work Cleaning – Follow the link to get in touch.

Thursday, 23 January 2014

Starting A New Catering Business - Some Tips

Starting A New Catering Business – Tips To Get You Started From Duct Work Cleaning Company Ingot Services

In the course of carrying out duct work cleaning and other types of cleaning for commercial kitchens, we at Ingot Services have gained an extensive knowledge of the elements that are needed to make a successful catering business, especially when it comes to setting the right standards in hygiene, health and safety.

Tips When Starting Your Commercial Catering Business 

Whether you are starting up from scratch or taking over an existing catering business, it can pay dividends to make sure that your business is run efficiently and effectively. Once you have registered your premises with the environmental health service something which needs to be done at least 28 days before opening making sure you have good working practices in place is paramount, especially for health and safety. You need to bear the following factors in mind:

General hygiene: Hand-washing and toilet facilities must obviously be hygienic and suitably situated, and there are special requirements including making sure that toilets don't open straight into rooms where food is prepared and having washbasins used only for cleaning hands, as well as a separate basin for washing food.  

There must be hygienic and suitable arrangements for waste disposal and other rubbish, covering it up properly to avoid attracting pests, while the regulations also cover ensuring an adequate supply of drinking water and making sure it can't be contaminated, for instance by water from your refrigeration system.

Another area which must be remembered is your heating, ventilation and air conditioning (HVAC) systems, and here regular duct work cleaning is vital to ensure that pipes stay clean and do not become clogged with grease and dust where mould and bacteria can breed. 

Food preparation: Hygiene is paramount in your areas for food preparation and you need to make sure staff are trained and supervised in handling food properly to avoid any risk of cross-contamination or other health risks. Any surfaces where food is prepared must be easy to clean, so you need smooth work surfaces which can be washed easily and any worn ones with corners where dirt can collect will not be approved. Facilities to clean all your cooking equipment and disinfect it where necessary are also essential, and both equipment and surfaces need to be cleaned and disinfected in between preparing different items, especially raw and cooked food. 

Insect screens are needed on any windows which open straight on to areas where staff prepare food, and any doors which are open a lot of the time will also need screens. Equally vital is hygienic storage of food at a safe temperature and in a place where it will be safe from pests. Fridges and freezers need regular checking to make sure they are at the correct temperatures, and chilled food should only be removed from the fridge for as short a time as possible before it is prepared. It's also obviously vital to make sure that food is thoroughly cooked before it is served to customers, especially with dishes like pork and poultry. 

Fire safety: There are strict rules to make sure commercial kitchens comply with fire safety, including ensuring that staff are properly trained in fire prevention and know what to do if a blaze does break out. You also need to have appropriate fire extinguishers to hand and keep them properly maintained. Smoke detectors are important too, and more sensitive models are now available which will not constantly go off as a result of normal cooking. 

By law, also, anyone operating a commercial kitchen needs to ensure that fire risk assessments are carried out and updated regularly. An important part of fire prevention is regular duct work cleaning, to prevent any build-up of grease and dirt which could be a fire hazard. Many insurance companies now require duct work in kitchens to be professionally cleaned at least once or twice per year as a fire safety measure.

Health and safety: Risk assessments need to be carried out regularly to protect both your staff and customers. The aim is to identify any hazards which could cause injury or illness and then decide on action to deal with the risks. In a kitchen this could, for instance, include taking precautions to guard against staff being injured by knives or cooking equipment. Cleaning ventilation systems is another element to consider here too, to avoid any risk of staff being made ill by bacteria breeding in pipework. 

There are numerous laws and regulations which anyone running a catering business needs to comply with, including the Food Safety Act 1990, Food Premises (Registration) Regulations 1991, Food Safety (General Food Hygiene) Regulations 1995, Food Safety (Temperature Control) Regulations 1995, and Workplace (Health, Safety and Welfare) Regulations 1992, which include regulations on regular cleaning of HVAC ducts.

Ingot Services – Duct Work Cleaning and Kitchen Cleaning Services To Help Meet Your Regulatory Requirements

Ingot Services offers a range of services to help catering businesses to meet their regulatory requirements. We are accredited by three professional organisations and will carry out deep cleaning of your kitchen, including duct work cleaning, using the correct equipment, as well as issuing you with full paperwork and keeping records to show that you have conformed with the legal regulations.

Duct Work Cleaning Contact Ingot Services for more information.

Ductwork Cleaning: Ingot Services Advises on Food Hygiene Ratings

5 Steps to an Excellent Food Hygiene Rating in 2014

An excellent food hygiene rating has become the new must-have accolade for food outlets everywhere – and ductwork cleaning is among the essential steps needed. Make 2014 the year to get this aspect of your business right. This is vital to preserve your reputation with new and existing customers and protect your business from negative publicity. As an expert duct cleaning contractor, Ingot can advise you on the best steps to take.

About the Food Hygiene Rating System
Anyone eating out in England, Wales or Northern Ireland will probably have noticed the “scores on the doors”. These are numbers displayed outside a catering business, which show its rating for hygiene. They range from 0 – meaning “urgent improvement needed” – up to 5, or “very good”. 

The ratings in Scotland are different, with companies either being awarded a “pass” grade or one of “improvement required”. Whichever system you operate under, your business should aim to achieve the top rating available. This will reassure your customers that food is handled hygienically and all possible steps are being taken to keep the premises safe, including meticulous kitchen extract cleaning.

1. Train all staff in Food Hygiene
It is a legal requirement for all staff working with food to have at least a Level 2 Hygiene Certificate in Catering. An Environmental Health Inspector will carry out an inspection every three years to ensure their knowledge is up to date, so you must ensure all members of your team regularly attend courses and are aware of any changes in best practice.  

It is also a good idea to have supervisors, managers and owners qualified well above the minimum, achieving a level 3 certificate, designed for anyone running a team of food handlers, or level 4, which equips workers to train others. This is not just a box ticking exercise to impress inspectors, but an important safeguard for your business and its customers. 

It is also good to give training to all employees, including waiters and bar staff, even if they are not actually handling food. This will ensure the awareness of hygiene runs through every level of your business.

2. Get staff on board
It is essential to tell staff about the food hygiene rating system and make sure they know how important it is to the business, and to their own jobs. You need to foster daily vigilance to ensure there is no danger of slipping into bad habits, such as skimping on kitchen cleaning or failing to schedule ductwork cleaning. Put measures in place to reward good hygiene and encourage people to spot and report any problems they might notice. Remember, your staff are your first line of defence in promoting good hygiene.

3. Review your regular cleaning regime
It is a legal requirement to have a properly documented cleaning rota, with adequate supplies of cleaning materials. However, what was a suitable cleaning regime when you started the business may not be enough as demands change. You will need to look at it again if your restaurant expands, you change the range of foods being served, or you buy different equipment and change the layout of your kitchen area. 

In the hectic atmosphere of a busy kitchen, with so many demands on your time, it is easy to put off reviewing your cleaning regime, but this is a recipe for problems. You must make it a priority to look at your daily routine and make any necessary adjustments.  

4. Back up with scheduled deep cleaning
Deep kitchen cleaning gives everyone a fresh start. Having this carried out regularly guards against hazardous build-up of dirt in areas which are not easily accessible every day, such as behind cupboards and appliances. Deep cleans demonstrate to staff the importance of hygiene and reduce the chance of problems.

5. Include invisible kitchen extracts and ductwork
Because kitchen extracts and ductwork can't be seen or accessed by staff, it is tempting to overlook the need for them to be cleaned regularly. However, these are potential sources of contamination, where grease, bacteria and germs can build up. If you fail to arrange ductwork cleaning on a regular basis, it can undermine other hygiene efforts. Dirty extracts and ductwork alone are enough for inspectors to withhold a good food hygiene rating, so you need to give full attention to these areas.

Ductwork Cleaning  – Click here to contact Ingot and find out more.