Title: Exceptional Food Hygiene Standards
Publication: Masala Magazine
Date: June 2010
Photo: Ajmal Mushtaq
It was not by chance that Mushtaqs Restaurant in Hamilton, Scotland, were awarded the Eat Safe Award by South Lanarkshire’s Environmental Health Department, which made it the cleanest Indian restaurant in the county. A cleaning system, developed by Chef Director Ajmal Mushtaq, was implemented over a 12-month period, that was well above the requirements of the law and Ajmal is delighted with the result.
“Based on our exceptional standards of food hygiene, the number of meals we serve on a daily basis and the fact that all our food is prepared in-house from scratch, I doubt there is a cleaner kitchen out there”.
“Customers are becoming increasingly demanding and they now have access to On-Line Hygiene Reports and it’s more important than ever that restaurants achieve high standards of food hygiene”, explains Ajmal.
“My passion is cooking and it is very important that everything is fresh, clean and washed thoroughly. I believe this makes the food taste better. Our customers can have the confidence that their food is cooked in the most hygienic conditions possible”.
How Mushtaqs achieved award-winning standards;
The health inspector arrives without prior notice, so it important to ALWAYS have exceptional standards of food hygiene. Mushtaqs followed these steps;
Understand Rules. Food hygiene is a complex area and has many requirements such as Cooking, Cooling, Chilling, Cross Contamination and Management. The first step was to understand ALL the rules and all the areas that are affected. There is a lot of good information available on the Food standards Agency’s website. www.food.gov.uk
Manageable tasks. Tackling both food safety and hygiene at the one time was overwhelming. Mushtaqs broke down the tasks into the following sections: Cooking, Cooling, Chilling, Cross Contamination and Management. This ensured that each of the areas were manageable, but more importantly doable.
Training. It is vital that all team members have good knowledge of the rules. There are many courses available on DVDs, visual aids, videos; posters etc are available act as excellent guidance for the learning process. www.cooksafe.co.uk
Motivate Team. Mushtaqs ensured the whole team was bought into the vision and that they understood the benefits of working in a very clean environment. This open communication approach was beneficial throughout the process.
Commence Cleaning. Mushtaqs took one area at a time, for example Cross Contamination and concentrated on raising our standards to the point where we were exceeding the requirements of the law. This simple approach was then rolled out to the other areas.
Specific Time. It was difficult to implement operational change and conduct normal business at the same time. Mushtaqs dedicated additional time to daily deep cleaning. This additional cost is well worth the investment.
Management Checks. Mushtaqs created a 160-point cleaning system that ensured the whole kitchen was immaculate from top to bottom. Management spend one hour inspecting the kitchen and any areas of attention would have to be dealt with on the same day.
Equipement. One way of telling how clean an establishment is, is to look at the cleaning equipement and chemicals being used. We invested in brand new cleaning equipement and regularly replace it. Ensuring you are using appropriate chemicals with the correct dilution was fundamental.
Routine Checklists. Mushtaqs knows the value of maintaining standards. We implemented checklists for every aspect of management. This made it simple for the duty manager to conduct tests and report results with accuracy.
Policy Document. The Mushtaqs Health & Safety policy document sets out the objectives, explains the structure of the policy and describes the procedures in place to ensure the stringent standards are met. This acts as the plan of action for all our Food Safety activities.
Ajmal said, “Having an exceptionally clean kitchen and food safety standards can only be good for your business. The benefits include – increased confidence in the team, safer working environment, elimination of cross contamination and finally, it gives your customers added confidence”
Ajmal Mushtaq Profile
Ajmal is a Business Expert and Chef Director of Mushtaqs Restaurant in Hamilton, Scotland. He was part of the management team at the largest Management Consultancy in the world and was responsible for delivering multi-million pound business improvement projects for some of the top FTSE100 companies. He has three degrees from the University of Glasgow Law (LLb), Corporate Finance (MFin) and Management Accounting (MAcc). His passion lay in Indian food and he has now fused his experiences as a chef with the best academic theories and lessons from consultancy to develop the Mushtaq Business Model that is responsible for the continued growth in sales.