Top 10 Food Trends for 2015: What They Mean For Your Restaurant

Top Food Trends, Fresh Fruits

Innova Market Insights released its “Top 10 Trends for Global Food, Beverage and Nutrition” at the end of 2014. With one-third of the year having gone by, Alsco thought this would be a good time to review the trends and see how you can incorporate them into your restaurant, cafe or bar to keep up with what is in demand these days.

Here are the top 10 trends and our suggestions and ideas on how to make the most of these for your business.

Whilst you busy restaurauteurs go about the business of incorporating these trends, there are some things which are timeless and beyond the trends. From having a crisp table linen or smart, comfortable uniforms for your staff that match your theme, you can always depend on Alsco.

So leave these to us. Just give Alsco a call and we will take care of these for you!

Trend 1 – From Clean to Clear Label

Research has shown that consumers want natural and organic foods with simple food labels. This gave rise to the Clean Label movement.

The problem was that there was no actual standard for a clean label. Clean label has been just a phrase used by food and drink manufacturers to describe products made with no chemical or artificial substances. What was to be considered as a chemical or an artificial substance was not laid out anywhere.

With growing concerns about the definition of natural, the trend now is to move from ‘clean’ to ‘clear’ labelling. The emphasis is on complete and clear disclosure of ingredients so that the consumers can themselves decide on the nature of the ingredients.

How does this impact you?

While this trend is clearly more important for the food and drink manufacturers, even restaurants, bars and cafe’s need to be careful not to misstate ingredients.

Clearly stated ingredients on your menu will not only appease your diners, they will help you avoid any unnecessary action by the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC). The ACCC’s free online Advertising and Selling Guide has some useful information with regards to environmental and organic claims or country and place of origin claims.

Trend 2 – Convenience for Foodies

Cooking shows and blogs by foodies have sparked a renewed interest in home cooking. This is the next big trend that is mentioned by Innova.

It goes on to state that these blogs and shows have also driven a demand for a greater choice of fresh foods, ingredients, including ingredients which may not be as ‘pretty’ as some of the other fresh foods, but are less expensive.

How does this mean for you?

Innova states that cooking shows are seen as fashionable, fun and social events. The introduction of such events at your restaurants and outlets could be a great idea to reach out to a wider audience.

Have special events for foodies and bloggers where they could come and try out some of your recipes or create their own versions of them to blog about.

Trend 3 – Marketing to Millennials

The ‘Millennials’ are the younger, tech-savvy generation heavily engaged with the social media. They are typically aged between 15 and 35, constantly looking out for and trying new things and generally less brand loyal than older consumers. According to Innova, they comprise roughly one-third of the global population.

What does this mean for you?

Using social media to connect with customers has become imperative. According to Social Hospitality.com, almost all restaurants will be on Facebook within the next couple of years and four in every five will be on Twitter.

This is because consumers are increasingly using social media to enhance their restaurant experience, to choose, review or to opt for discounts, promotions or group-buying schemes. So encourage your customers to check-in on Facebook, leave an honest, good review and keep them coming back with regular promotions.

Trend 4 – Snacks Rise to the Occasion

Formal meal times are continuing to decline in popularity. Quick health foods, traditionally considered as snacks, are replacing traditional meal occasions. More snacks are targeted at specific moments of consumption, according to Innova.

What does this mean for you?

How well does your menu cater to this trend? We hope you have enough items for not just a traditional meal, but also for a quick, healthy, light meal or any for any other occasion during the day.

Have a relook at your menu and make those adjustments so that you offer something on your menu for that fitness enthusiast, the mother looking for the something light and nutritious for her children after their rugby match or the corporate executive looking an energising quick bite in between those meetings.

Trend 5 – Good Fats, Good Carbs

Concerns of obesity have led to a growing emphasis on unsaturated and natural fats and oils and rising interest in omega-3 fatty acid content as well as the return of butter to favour as a natural, tasty alternative to artificial margarines that may be high in trans-fats.

In the same way, naturally-occurring sugar is being favoured at the expense of added sugars and artificial sweeteners.

What does this mean for you?

Avoid saturated fatty acids! These come mostly from animal sources including meat and dairy products like beef fat, lard, butter, cream or cheese.

It may not always be possible to remove them completely from your menu and you’re the ingredients in your dishes and switch totally, but make sure you offer enough natural alternatives containing unsaturated fatty acids that are not only good for the heart but also for your bottom line.

Trend 6 – More In Store for Protein

According to Innova Market Insights, the hunt is on for the next big source of protein. Protein is seen as an important part of the meal and associated with important health benefits, be it growth and muscle development or its possible role in reducing the risk of high blood pressure.

Traditional sources of protein continue to be the mainstay, but some like soy protein are losing popularity since they are regarded as cheap. Proteins from pulses, algae or even insects which have been traditionally consumed in certain countries are becoming popular on menus across the world if they are used brilliantly and marketed well .

What does this mean for you?

Proteins from pulses are easily incorporated into menus in soups, salads, casseroles and meat sources. Apart from being a great source of protein, they are low in fat, full of fibre and have a low glycemic index . Not only do they add extra texture and flavour to your dish, they are great for the heart and for those who may be suffering from diabetes.

So include these alternate sources of protein into your menu to make it healthier and taste better too.

Trend 7 – New Routes for Fruit

A product is perceived to be healthier when it contains a real fruit or vegetable ingredient as opposed to synthetic colours, flavours or juices. This is true for dishes on your menu as well.

According to Innova, more product launches are being tracked with real fruits and vegetables as they can function as colouring and flavouring agents. In this role they meet the increased demand for natural colours and flavours.

What does this mean for you?

A study by Mintel and Leatherhead Food Research revealed that, for the first time in 2011, the value of sales of natural colours has overtaken that of artificial/synthetic colours globally. Whereas, global sales of natural colours amounted to an estimated USD600m, an annual growth rate of over 7% since 2007. In comparison, the global sales of artificial colours were an estimated USD570m at a growth rate of less than 4% annually.

With its geographical diversity and great climate, Australia has an abundance of fruits and vegetables to offer. These can be incorporated into virtually any dish, be it a entrée, main course or dessert. Scope out the freshest fruits and vegetable of the season available in your region and get busy to celebrate them.

Trend 8 – A Fresh Look at Frozen

Foods in the fresh aisles appeal to the consumers as being healthy. So frozen or canned foods, although convenient, have that much more work to do. According to Innova, established frozen foods (vegetables and seafood) are focusing their marketing on the freshness of their content, stressing the superior nutritional content in them.

What does this mean for you?

Have a look at the ingredients on not just your food, but also your marketing strategy. Are you conveying the right messages? Fresh food and its nutritional content are important while deciding what goes into your diner’s plate, but it is also critical to communicate the freshness of these to your potential customers.

Regular (and appropriate!) visual content on Instagram or Twitter, articles on your website or Facebook are some simple ways to achieve this objective. Your customers love to hear that they are eating fresh, healthy food. So make sure they know that they indeed are.

Trend 9 – Private Label Powers On

Private labels are gaining market share in terms of new product launches in Europe, North America and Australasia. According to the Innova, in-store brands are increasingly being accepted by consumers and are considered to be superior quality products.

Private labels are typically either comparable in price to, or just slightly higher than the national economy brands. However, they offer superior packaging with an elevated perception of quality across a range of products.

What does this mean for you?

Have your signature sauces, spice blends or confectionery products? These are the perfect ingredients to having your own private label which not only helps market your restaurant, is a great way to introduce another revenue stream into your restaurant.

Many restaurants also private label of wines. This wine could be either a family-made favourite wine replicated at a local winery or wines from the winery that you enjoy very much. Work with the wineries and their design teams to make a great label that reflects your restaurant.

A private label can be a great addition to your restaurant, to reinforce your brand and a wonderful way to encourage more customers and get their stamp of approval. It can be quite handy for gifting seasons such as Christmas.

Trend 10 – Rich, Chewy and Crunchy

Texture is becoming an important driver for taste perception of food and beverages and focus of many of today’s food innovations, according to Innova.

Brands are creatively combining textures with, for example crispy inclusions, soft centres and extra crunchy toppings. Texture claims are shown more prominently.

What does this mean for you?

Most restaurants are obsessed about the flavour of their food and the visual appeal of their dish. In this, the texture often gets overlooked. The crispiness, chewiness and the creaminess of your dish is just as important to your food acceptability. Spend enough time in getting these elements perfect. Rubbery, slimy food, food that has gone soggy or frozen foods with crystals has no place past the pass.

So make sure that the top 10 food trends identified by Innova have a place in your restaurant, café or deli. At the same time, do not overlook the basics. A clean kitchen, smartly turned out staff, comfortably dressed chefs, crisp linens, squeaky clean washrooms are some trends which stay on year after year.

The Fine Food Australia Expo at the Sydney Olympic Park from September 20-23, 2015 will have over 1,000 national and international exhibitors displaying the latest trends in food and drink. So do visit the Expo for more about the latest trends. Save the date now!

Alsco, the market leader in textiles, is there at all times to help you assist you with the basics, leaving you to focus on what you know best – running a successful restaurant. All you need to do is give us a call on 1300 659 892 and speak to our friendly and helpful staff.

 

Photo Courtesy: Pixabay

 

Hand Sanitisers or Hand Soap: The Debate Ends Here

clean hands soap or sanitiser

Hand washing is an effective way to reduce the spread of germs and deadly diseases. These days, we are lucky to have more than just one way of cleaning of our hands thanks to the invention of hand sanitisers.

Manufacturers advertise the use of these bottled gels as a substitute for the old-fashioned hand washing with soap and water. They say that it kills germs and efficiently cleans the hands. However, how much of this is true? How do hand sanitsers measure up against hand soaps? Do they really kill 99% of the germs in your hands? Let’s find out.

Washing with hand soap

Time and again, traditional hand washing using soap and water has been proven to rid your hands of bacteria like c.difficile among others, which can lead to a debilitating disease. In order to ensure efficacy, hand washing must be done properly. But what is proper?

Proper hand washing includes using 1-3 ml of soap which you will work up to a lather, up to 20 seconds of scrubbing between your fingers, wrists, under the fingernails, and if possible, forearms, thorough rinsing, and the essential last step – drying.

Recent studies show that drying is crucial to the effectiveness of hand hygiene – the dampness of the hand has a correlation with the amount of bacteria it can transfer to surfaces. In other words, if you don’t dry your hands after washing, it remains or even becomes a better breeding ground for bacteria that is raring to spread.

A new no-no

Another interesting tidbit from these studies that you might want to give serious consideration to is refraining from rubbing your hands during the drying process. According to the authors of the study conducted at the University of Bradford, rubbing your hands together brings bacteria previously embedded into the skin back to the surface.

Your best bet for hand drying? Towels. Hand dryers are fine, however, most people rub their hands together to speed up the drying when using air dryers. With paper towels on the other hand, it is less likely for you to rub your hands together when drying with good ol’ paper towels.

Anti-Bacterial Soaps

Research shows that antibacterial soaps are just as effective as regular soaps in reducing the spread of infection. But you should be wary about the antibacterial soap you use — consumer antibacterial soap (not like the soaps used in hospitals) can increase bacterial resistance to antibiotics. Should you decide to get an antibacterial soap, it’s best to go with brands that clinical institutions and industrial workplaces trust.

The Truth About Hand Sanitisers

Do hand sanitisers really kill 99% of germs like they claim? Yes. But not exactly on the hands. You see, these products are usually tested on inanimate surfaces and 99% claim is based on that. However, if tested on hands, the results will be different.

Does this mean that hand sanitisers are useless? No. Alcohol-based hand sanitisers are really effective at killing germs. As a matter of fact, plenty of doctors still recommend using them because they find them effective in preventing bacterial and viral infections, with few exceptions.

Hand sanitisers are a good substitute for when facilities are not available, however, it must not replace traditional hand washing with soap and water because there are more aggressive types of bacteria out there that it cannot eliminate.

Also, hand sanitisers are not as efficient as soap and water in cutting grime and grease. So if your hands are visibly dirty, it’s best to go the traditional route — if not, then you can get away with a few squirts of hand sanitiser until you get access to running water and soap.

Choosing the right hand sanitiser

The key ingredient is hand sanitiser is alcohol, which is an antiseptic. This does not mean you should grab just about any hand sanitiser with alcohol in it. Always opt for one with at least 60% concentration of alcohol — anything less is ineffective.

In addition to choosing the right product, it is also important to know how to use hand sanitisers properly. First, don’t be conservative with the amount; squirt two to three pumps of the product on the palm of your hand. Then rub it all over the hands’ surfaces including between the fingers and under the nails, and don’t stop until the product dries out.

Hand sanitisers in the workplace

If you are debating whether to invest in hand sanitisers or in hand soap dispensers, then there should be no debate. Get both if you want to keep your workers healthy and happy.

Proper hand hygiene will keep diseases at bay and boost productivity even on the dreaded flu months. All washrooms must be equipped with a hand soap dispenser to help promote the habit of hand washing.

As for hand sanitisers, they have a very significant place in your office — have them strategically placed by the doorways, by the elevators, other busy areas of the office, and floors with no immediate access to a washroom. With this option installed, it will be easier for workers to remember to clean their hands even in the middle of a hectic day.

Alsco can help you find the best hand hygiene products for your workplace. They offer hand soap dispensers, hand sanitisers, hand drying solutions, and more. Visit their website to see the full selection of products and equipment designed to keep your office clean and healthy. You can also speak with their friendly sales representatives when you call 1300 733 177.

 

Image Courtesy: Chlot’s Run

Green Goal Setting

You can create your own Green Office goals, and work with your colleagues to achieve greater green credentials in your office.Below are some ideas for goals.

In the next year …

  1. Reduce energy usage by 5%. Easy ways to reduce energy use include turning appliances off at the powerpoint and using cloth towels for hand drying.
  2. Launch a recycling incentive program for departments who reduce their waste output.
  3. Increase the number of staffers who bike to work by 25%.
  4. Start an office composting program.
  5. Announce to clients and customers that you are taking steps toward going green.

In the next five years …

  1. Install solar panels, a garden roof, skylights and/or a “cool” roof.
  2. Reduce energy usage by 20%.
  3. Replace commodes and sinks with more efficient models.
  4. Replace your heating and cooling system with one with more programming options.
  5. Go tankless! Depending on your office size, switch to a tankless water heater.

In the next ten years …

  1. Remodel the office with more natural lighting so you can keep the lights off for most of the day.
  2. Meet with clients and associates via videoconferencing to cut down on transportation emissions and costs. Allow staff to work remotely from home.
  3. Landscaping should be watered completely from collected rainwater or other natural irrigation systems, nourished by organic fertiliser and protected with natural pest control.
  4. Raise your standards! Upgrade your building to LEED standards.
  5. Contract an environmental scientist or consultant to assess your environmental impact and a plan to reduce it.

Go For Green

Alsco offers a variety of solutions to help make your workplace a greener environment. These include our Evolution Mats, Continuous Towels and Ecosafe Washers. The revolutionary Evolution Mats are made from recycled eco-friendly materials. The continuous Cloth Towel also offers important benefits with less impact on the environment. The use of cotton towels are environmentally friendlier than paper. Our Alsco Ecosafe Washers are water based utilise a technology where oil and grease are transformed into water and carbon dioxide.

For any of the above, all you need to do is ask Alsco. If that green office is one of your priorities, then why delay?

 

Image courtesy: Chris Cox

Industry Awards – Who Cares?

Restaurant Awards

“People always clap for the wrong things” wrote J.D. Salinger in his famous book The Catcher in the Rye. This statement, made well over half a century ago, could as well be said about the dozens of awards and award ceremonies for every given field and specialisation that are in vogue today.

Surely there must be a reason (or two) behind why there are so many awards and recognitions in every field of life, whether it be recognising creative genius, academic brilliance, sporting excellence or the highs of human compassion. The food and drink industry is no stranger to the trend of multiple awards in any given field.

Not all awards are like winning an Oscar or an Olympic Medal but does that mean that they do not count for anything? People would be lying if they said that. Winning an award is always fantastic. Going up the stage in front of your peers, receiving that trophy while the rest are clapping (jealously?), isn’t that what dreams are made of? Getting that recognition, validation and cheer are worth winning all the same.

It is not just all feel good. There are more reasons.

Efforts in preparing for the awards have never gone waste

More often than not, the team in your restaurant, hotel or kitchen will go that extra mile and put in just that extra bit of effort in order to win. Try out a new improvement on their recipe, a better presentation, ensure the last nook is just as clean as the rest. Surely, the focus on excelling leads to improvement in the institution in particular and the industry as a whole in general.

Improves teamwork

Working towards achieving awards involves entire teams and often cross functional teams. Even individual awards more often have the backing of the team. The chef will have his sous-chef, pastry-chef, stewards and more.

It is a well know fact that the teams which work well together also perform the best. As teams work together towards an objective, not only are they focussed on excellence, they also improve team spirit. A common goal improves communication, reduces friction and fosters camaraderie during the journey, and that is a big victory by itself.

Gets teams to focus on results

Industry awards almost always have trained professional to ask tough questions. Any entry, if it hopes to win, must demonstrate a positive impact on business outcomes, which should be a way of life in a business establishment. This results orientation must start when a team is shaping and designing a program that may someday be award-worthy. An awards program only helps to re-establish that focus.

Great work and best practices get highlighted

Ever so often great work may go unnoticed beyond the narrow realm of that organisation itself. A new way of doing things, a brilliant technique, a time and money saving innovation, need to be highlighted and shared. Awards are a perfect medium to recognise this brilliance and bring it before the entire industry so that everyone benefits from it.

Having said this, it must also be recognised that not all awards are created equal. There will always be an Oscar or a Nobel prize and then there will be others. The standing of the awards is very often determined by the organisation which is backing the awards.

In the hospitality industry, the Restaurant and Catering Awards for Excellence are a marvellous yardstick for the industry and help member organisations of the Association to strive towards achieving more. A large part of the success of the awards is because of RCA. The association works constantly and actively towards the welfare of its members and always has their best interests in mind. It is no wonder that these awards are often thought of as the ‘Oscars’ of their industry.

We hope you have a program for excellence going at your restaurant and have sent in your nominations for the awards. Alsco would be thrilled to see you walk up to the stage and win amidst thunderous applause from the rest of the industry.

And while you and your team work hard towards that recognition, there is always the bright, fresh linen for your restaurants and the smart and stylish chef’s uniform from Alsco to help you along the way. And this help is but a phone call away!

 

Photo Courtesy: US Army Africa

The Disability Act: It Helps Your Business Too!

Disability Act, Accessability

According to the website Disabled World around 15% of the world’s population has some form of disability or the other. The proportion is roughly 1 in every 5 people in America. This could be a huge percentage of additional people visiting your business. In a people and service oriented establishment like a restaurant, a doctor’s clinic or a beauty parlour, you could increase your turnover by a significant percentage by simply providing access to disabled people who would otherwise prefer to go to the next establishment further down the street.

The Australian Disability Discrimination Act 1992 (DDA) aims to promote equal opportunity and access for people with disabilities in Australia. It shares a common philosophy with disability discrimination acts around the world that emerged at the end of the 20th and the beginning of the 21st century.

Like discrimination acts in many countries, the Australian Disability Discrimination Act protects individuals across Australia from direct and indirect discrimination in many parts of public life such as employment, education and access to premises.

Accessibility is an important aspect of the Disability Discrimination Act. A person with a disability has a right to have access to places used by the public. These places could be:

  • educational institutions,
  • shops and department stores,
  • cafes, restaurants and pubs,
  • dentists or doctors clinics amongst others

The complete list can be found in this guide by the Australian Human Rights Commission.

What do building regulations state?

There are three main legislations which have requirements for disability access

The Building Code of Australia / National Construction Codes

The Building Code of Australia (BCA) requirements under Section D3 relating to disability access whereby all access ways and finishes within parts of a building required to be “accessible” must comply with AS 1428.1 Design for access and mobility Part 1 general requirements for access- Buildings. This states that all continuous accessible paths of travel shall have a slip-resistant surface.

The Access to Premises Standards

The Disability (Access to Premises-Buildings) Standards 2010 is Commonwealth legislation which tries to improve access and use of facilities so that they are accessible for all. The improvement in the design not only provides a safer environments, but help to facilitate community interaction by reducing barriers that may affect participation of disabled persons.

Parts of buildings that are required to be accessible must have access ways to and within certain areas. An access way is defined as a continuous accessible path of travel as defined within AS 1428.1, which in turn requires an access way to be slip resistant. Whilst many may argue that slip resistance is not a specific prescriptive requirement, the requirement for slip resistance appears to be an inherent requirement as not to discriminate against those who may have difficulty walking on slippery and/or polished surfaces (for those with difficulty walking on highly reflective surfaces).

State Based Occupational Health and Safety Acts and Regulations

These essentially require employers and those who have control (or part thereof) to show due diligence in ensuring that the risk of injury due to slips, trips and falls are reduced to as low as reasonably practicable (ALARP).

What is expected?

The basic ideas is that every area and facility open to the public should be open and available to people with a disability. They should expect to enter and make use of places used by the public if people without a disability can do so.

So what does this mean for your workplace?

It is the responsibility of the business owner and the manager of the premises to make reasonable adjustments to the physical features to allow disabled guests to access and use the premises like people without disabilities. Physical features include everything from steps, stairways, entrances, floor surfaces and furniture.

The judgement of reasonableness is left to common sense and varies from situation to situation. It is clearly the onus of the business owner to justify what is unreasonable in the given circumstances since there are not rule books to go by.

So how do you comply?

Adherence to guideline would depend upon whether the building is being constructed or has already been constructed.

If a building or workspace is not yet constructed, the design of the building must ensure must be mindful of the requirements for disabled people.

  • Floor materials should not create a trip hazard.
  • The floor surface should help to remove rain water from shoes and wheelchairs.
  • Where mats are provided, the surface of the mat must be level with the surface of the adjacent floor or the sides should be bevelled.

However, if the building is already constructed, then alterations may need to be done, whether at staircases, floors or furniture layout and design.

  • Introduce slip resistance to give firm foothold and good wheel grip under all wet and dry conditions.
  • The ingress of moisture should be reduced to the lowest level possible through the use of floor mats.
  • Slopes and landings of ramps should have anti skid material to grip wheels or help provide a firm foothold.

It is your responsibility to make your premises as accessible as possible. Failure to do so in not only against the law, but also incredibly inconsiderate and bad for business.

Alsco can provide you advice on most appropriate mats for enhancing access for the disabled. Ask Alsco for a free audit of your premises now.

 

Photo Courtesy: Shankar S.

 

Restaurant Fires: Top Tips to Keep Yours Safe

Alsco Restaurant Fire Safety

It is a truth universally acknowledged that fire is the single largest hazard in a restaurant kitchen threatening workers, patrons and owners.

Kitchen fires damage property, injure people and devastate businesses, leading to loss of revenue and in many cases even permanent closure. According to the National Fire Protection Association, there were an estimated 7,640 fires in restaurants annually, which were reported to fire departments, resulting in damages of close to $250 million in property. This estimate does not include the loss in revenues from either temporary or permanent closure of business. Some restaurants may never open after a fire. More than half these fires were due to cooking equipment.

The presence of hot equipment, open flames, electrical appliances and connections, cooking oils and fuels, cleaning chemicals or paper and plastic products make kitchens vulnerable to fire. The number of fires occurring in a kitchen is hardly surprising given the proximity between the sources of fire such as naked flames, heated elements or electrical devices on the one hand and combustibles such as grease and oils on the other.

So what can you do?

Because of the intrinsic nature of cooking, there is really no way to completely erase the threat of fire. However, precautions can reduce the threat of a completely catastrophic event. Care needs to be taken at all time and in a well planned and organised manner.

Here is a list of things that can be done to reduce the incidence of fire in your kitchen.

Fire Suppression Equipment

Fire suppression equipments and sprinklers have become pretty much standard in modern kitchens. Care needs to be taken to ensure that these are of proper standard. Further, a carefully planned and documented maintenance routine to ensure that these are in proper working condition should be a part of your fire policy.

Tip 1: Install automatic fire control systems

It is best to install automatic fire suppression systems in the kitchen which not only respond immediately to fire, they also shut off power and fuel supply to the kitchen.

Tip 2: Have a backup

Install portable fire extinguishers as backup. Ensure that your fire extinguishers are serviced regularly and never out of date.

Tip 3: Have your equipment in the right place at the right time

Other fire equipment such as fire blankets are always kept in their proper place. This place must be known to all be easily accessed.

Electrical Equipment

Short circuits are a common cause of fire. What makes matters worse is that electric fires tend to spread rapidly throughout the premises too.

Tip 4: Regular maintenance

It is important to schedule regular maintenance on all electrical equipment present in the kitchen. Employees should keep a careful watch out for old, frayed or knotted up cords or wiring and open switch plates which should be replaced immediately

Tip 5: Move away

Ensure that no sources of fire or open combustibles are kept near power sources. Fryers should never be kept near switch plate or plug points.

Kitchen Grease

Hood and vents that are not cleaned regularly and properly pose a serious threat of fire. Not only is the grease build up a likely cause of fire, the clogged vents restrict the flow of air.

Tip 6: Clean hoods and vents

Clean your grill, hood and vents properly. An adequate cleaning schedule varies from kitchen to kitchen and will depend upon a number of factors such as the type of cuisine, the number of fryers being used, the type of filters installed. It is important to ensure that your grill cleaning schedule works for your kitchen and your grills never get too greasy.

Tip 7: Install them properly

Ensure that the filter and other parts are installed properly after it is removed for cleaning. An improper installation will result in the vents or chimney functioning sub-optimally causing grease to build up in other parts of the kitchen.

Tip 8: Involve a professional

Have your exhaust system inspected by a professional for grease build up. This ensures that difficult to reach parts are cleaned. The professional will also tell you if some parts are being overlooked or not being cleaned adequately.

Tip 9: Remove all grease

Clean the grease from other places too. Ensure walls, work surfaces, ranges, fryers, grills, broilers, ovens, fans have no grease built up on them.

Tip 10: Don’t forget the cleaning rags

Ensure dirty rags and soiled wipes which have been used to wipe greasy surfaces are stored separately and laundered properly. A professional laundry service such as that from Alsco is very useful.

Be Prepared

Have an emergency plan in place. Fires do happen and will happen. Despite all the prevention and care, the smallest slip can lead to fire. It is better to be prepared for such situations.

Tip 11: Power Down

Ensure that at all times there is someone responsible and trained to shut off the power and fuel supplies to your kitchen to contain the fire.

Tip 12: Evacuation

To ensure minimal damage of life and everyone exits the restaurant safely, a well planned and executed evacuation is necessary.

  • The evacuation plan must be in place at all times and should be formulated after taking into account the possibility of fire in all different parts of the restaurant.
  • Have a person responsible for evacuation. This person will decide if evacuation is required and ensure that every person evacuates the premises promptly and safely.
  • The evacuation plan should be practised periodically. This will ensure that all the members of staff are well acquainted with the drill and with their responsibilities. Panic at the time of an actual fire incident will be reduced if the evacuation process if a well rehearsed one.

Tip 13: Training

Have your staff trained in Fire and Warden Training. There are many Australian state and territory fire safety rules and regulations which mandate having staff trained in fire safety. Not only is this a regulatory requirement, the trained staff will know what is to be done not only to prevent fire, but also in case of an actual incident of fire as well as after the fire.

Tip 14: First Aid Kits

Have well serviced, up to date first aid kits on hand. For any injuries caused by fire, ensure that your first aid kit always has sufficient quantities of medicines and other equipment needed for burn injuries. Alsco first aid kits do just that. The burn module, like other modules, is organised in a clearly labelled box. Everything needed to provide first aid for a burn is contained in the box in the order in which it is needed.

Remember a little preparation can make or break your business.

For more tips on fire safety and first aid in your dining establishment, visit Alsco at stand D76 at the Foodservice Australia 2015 from May 31. Mark your calendars now.

 

Photo Courtesy: Learning Lark

The Hotstepper Oil Cannibals

Oil Cannibals BioRemediation Cleaning

Cannibals can be good. Particularly for the environment. We are talking of the tiny micro-organisms that ingest oil and other hydrocarbons and convert them into water and carbon dioxide. Doesn’t this sound good. It actually is. These environmentally friendly microbes go through a process similar to human digestion to eat away polluting grease and oil.

In technical terms, this process is known as Bioremediation. Simply put, Bioremediation is a process which uses a biologically active product, containing live colonies of microbes, to achieve a designated task. Usually the task is to break down environmentally hazardous or potentially hazardous materials through the action of these living organisms.

Bioremediation has been applied to parts cleaning as well. The designated task in this case is to clean machinery and automotive parts and break down the hazardous chemicals which accumulate on these parts.

The Ecosafe Washer from Alsco successfully uses this technology. Want this technology for your auto garage? Get a free, zero-obligation quote for your business now.

Here is how it works…

In the automotive world, grime, grease and oil that coat components are a haven of toxins and hazardous chemicals.

The sequence of events begins with the breaking of the tight bond between the contaminant and the part itself, thereby releasing the grease into the fluid itself. This is done by the surfactant / degreaser present in the cleaning fluid called OzzyJuice. These cleaning fluids are pH-neutral, non-flammable, water-based combinations of chemicals that contain no hazardous ingredients that could harm workers or interfere with the action of the organisms making OzzyJuice safe yet incredibly powerful at the same time.

The lifted contaminants are emulsified into the cleaning solution. The emulsified cleaning fluid is then passed through the mat contained inside the Ecosafe Washer. The OzzyMat is a filtering device where larger particulate matter such as dust, paint chips or pieces of metal get retained in the mat, while the fluid containing the contaminants flows into the tank below the mat.

The fluid flowing through the mat releases our hungry micro-organisms in the same tank where the grease, oil and other hydrocarbons are contained. It is now that the organisms come into life and ‘eat’ the oil and grease converting them into water and carbon dioxide.

The water combines with the fluid and the carbon dioxide escapes into the air in volumes so slight so as to be immeasurable.

Let’s get to know these cannibals

Our helpful cannibals occur naturally around us. “They are as common as – and no more harmful than – ordinary dirt.”

These hydrocarbon-degrading micro-organisms are ubiquitously distributed in soil and aquatic environments. They normally constitute less than 1% of the total microbial communities. While they may be only a small proportion of a pre-spill microbial community, according to Ronald M. Atlas, the presence of oil-based pollutants can raise their populations to 10% of the total community.

These oil eating indigenous microbes came into global spotlight during the Exxon Valdez and the BP Deepwater oil spills. They played a significant role in reducing the overall environmental impact of both these spills.

Storing these cannibals

The microbes are stored in the mats in an inactive or dormant state and become active only when the fluid is added. This makes storage of these organisms, simple, hassle-free and viable over extended periods of time.

Let them eat

In order to get the best results from your little cannibals and from your friendly Ecosafe Washer, here are a few things to be kept in mind.

The microbial pads should be changed at prescribed intervals. This achieves two objectives

  • Any trace metal particles caught in the mat filter do not accumulate to hazardous levels and are disposed of quickly and easily.
  • A new pad contains refreshed, new and vigorous microbes which replace the old, worn out ones.

Maintaining the right temperature is important to achieve the desired results. Too cold and the microbes will not function properly, slowing down their process. Too hot and they will die. The right temperature provides an optimal environment for the microbes aiding their digestive and reproductive processes.

Adding bleach, disinfectants and other chemicals could kill these microbes.

Want to meet the Ecosafe Washer in person?

Alsco will be at the Australian Auto Aftermarket Expo and the Collision Repair Expo on April 16-18. Do visit stand E17 at the Melbourne Exhibition Centre to find out about the Ecosafe Washer.

Or simply reach out to our helpful sales staff here to know about Alsco’s customer friendly rental and hassle-free maintenance programs.

 

Photo Courtesy: Ferrous Büller

 

6 Easy Ways To Go Green At Work

Green at Work

Being a Green Workplace is important to the modern business. It’s not just about recycling paper; it’s also about promoting business practices that make a real difference to the environment in the long term. Turning your business into a shining example of eco-friendliness is not an overnight exercise – but neither is it impossible. In fact, some relatively simple steps are needed to ‘Go Green’ at work – and to promote it.

Of course, no one has perfected the eco-friendly business model yet, but the idea of adopting sustainable, resource-efficient procedures that are as good for business as they are for the world around us, is no fantasy. By making a series of straightforward changes in how your workplace operates, it can be done.

Promoting such things is what the Greenroom is all about. So we’ve put together a list of 6 easy ways in which your business Go Green, and can enhance its reputation for greener, cleaner and more efficient practices.

Why It Matters?

If you question how much difference it makes for businesses to Go Green, then it’s worth looking at the statistics. Research consistently shows that the public is interested in the environment and in countering climate change, and any business that promotes a greener working environment and eco-friendly work practices is more highly thought of.

A 2009 Auspoll survey Tracking Climate Change Attitudes, which was commissioned by the Climate Institute, revealed that 15% of Australian consumers were ‘Extremely Concerned’ with climate change, 28% were ‘very Concerned’ and 36% were ‘Concerned’. Just 5% were ‘Not At All Concerned’.

In 2010 another Climate Institute-commissioned survey, Climate Of The Nation, revealed that 29% of Australians ‘Strongly Agree’ and 57% ‘Agree’ that businesses should be more active in helping to make the change to a cleaner, smarter economy. It also showed that 84% either ‘Strongly Agreed’ or ‘Agreed’ that it was unacceptable that some businesses focus too narrowly on profits while ignoring the risks of their pollution, and that 35% ‘Strongly Agreed’ that polluting businesses be made to take responsibility and be charged for their pollution.

It’s tempting to think that small operations can hardly be expected to do very much. But for small and medium sized businesses, ignoring the preferences of their customers is dicing with commercial disaster. And besides, because every little step helps, even small things by small businesses make definite contributions to any overall improvements.

6 Easy Ways To Go Green At Work

So, what can be done to Go Green at work? Does it mean introducing life-changing regulations? Does it mean imposing strict practices that make work more difficult? Not at all. The steps are easy, and while effort is required, the results make the working environment better and the working experience more positive for the staff. Here are just 6 of them.

  1. Cut Back
    No prizes for this jumping to mind first, but cutting back on resources is the most logical place to start. That means reducing the amount of paper, the demand for printing, switching off lights in rooms when unused or where there is sufficient light from windows. It’s closely related to worker awareness, with most cutbacks coming down to the decisions that staff make during their working day. Some simple questions staff should ask themselves are:

    • Do the lights need to be on? Or is there sufficient light from windows
    • Does a document need to be printed? If so, why not on both pages?
    • Is the paper used recycled?
    • Are separate recycling bins provided in work – plastic, paper, glass etc? If so, why not?
    • Is waste being placed in the provided recycling bins?
    • What about packing a prepared lunch for work instead of buying a packaged lunch and increasing waste?
    • When work is finished, is the computer turned off?
    • Are the lights turned off when leaving the office?
  2. Switch To Energy-Saving Appliances
    It has been lobbied for long, and in many ways this principle has been adopted. But switching to energy-saving appliances means more than simply switching your computer off at the end of the day, and using energy-efficient compact fluorescent light bulbs (although both definitely help). The actual appliances that you use in your workplace often consume more energy than they need to, making them extremely inefficient and a major contributor to the carbon footprint.
    The best way to address this problem is to upgrade your office and workplace equipment. Older models are much less energy efficient that newer models. In fact, the difference in consumption can range between 50% and 90%. So, switch from laser printers to ink-jet printers, and replace the energy-feasting old office PCs with modern laptops, which have been designed for users on the go.In the restroom, check out hand-dryers which typically use a lot of energy, and consider whether switching to paper towels might be a greener choice.
    And while you’re there, how efficiently is water consumed there too? Consider installing automatic-stopping taps to reduce water wastage, and look into the possibility of modern dual-flush toilet units which use about 25% of the water per flush the older single flush toilets do (12 litres). Urinals can save as much as 30% per flush. Such steps really do work. A survey by Energy Australia asked 2,000 retail and manufacturing professionals how their businesses saved on energy costs. Some 31% said that fitting energy-efficient appliances had worked in saving money, while 22% said installing automated energy control systems and automatic lighting had also made a genuine difference.
    When looking for appliances for a workplace, check out Australia’s own Energy Rating Label for information on the best options. It would also be worthwhile reading the advice Energy Australia is offering.
  3. Regulate Temperature Controls
    Another common source of energy consumption is heating and cooling systems. By installing energy-efficient heating, ventilation and air-conditioning systems or by simply regulating their use, you can slash the figures dramatically. Collectively referred to as HVACs, they account for around 40% of a business’s energy consumptions, but using them correctly can mean energy consumption savings of as much as 50%.For more details, read what the Energy Efficiency Exchange (EEX), the Australian government’s own energy saving awareness drive, has to say.But there are also several small things can be done in the office to help the cause.

    • Open a window and let fresh air in on hot days, instead of using the air conditioner.
    • Attach weather strips on the base of doors to prevent heat from escaping on cold days.
    • Make sure HVAC equipment are regularly serviced to maintain highest performance rates.
    • Set heating system timer, so it’s off after working hours and comes on 1 hour before work begins.
  4. Encourage Green Commuting
    It’s not the most commonly referred to option, but encouraging your staff to get to work with more eco-friendly modes of transport is actually an excellent way to lower your business’s carbon footprint. This is because your footprint is calculated by the effect every aspect of your operation has on the environment, and the requirement for staff to travel to work is one of them.
    Encouraging green commuting can have a greater impact socially and nationally too. According to the National Geographic’s 2014 Greendex survey, Australians still rank pretty poorly when it comes to using public transport, sharing vehicles and otherwise choosing a greener way of getting to work. In Australia-specific survey results, Australians are among the least frequent users of local public transport, and the least likely to frequently walk or bicycle to work. In fact, only 9% of Australians use a bicycle for commuting at least once per week.
    Some of the most popular green commuting options are:

    • carpooling – sharing vehicles reduces the number on the road, therefore the levels of fuel consumption and resulting greenhouse gases,
    • public transport – since these vehicles are on the road anyway, opting for them instead of a private car lowers fuel consumption and the creation of greenhouse gases,
    • walking – a no brainer when it comes to a green commute mode, and perfect for staff living close to work, and
    • cycling – the most popular eco-friendly commuting option for anyone living between 5km and 15km from work.
      The National Heart Foundation of Australia published a survey on Financial Incentives To Ride To Work revealing that 80% of workers aged between 25 and 54 supported the idea of financial incentives to cycle to work rather than drive. That may mean direct or indirect subsidies paid to workers, or a tax deduction provided for bicycles purchased by workers.
    • TravelSmart Workplace is a national program that has been embraced in WA particularly, it offers a host of advice to businesses to get onboard.
    • Ride2Work is a national program which provide workplace coordinators for help in organizing programs.
      There are several ways to encourage your staff to get involved in a green, not least the health benefits to them. Financial are there too, but check with your local authority to see what financial incentives can be passed on via the workplace.
  5. Be proactive
    In most cases, workers are in a habit of doing things a certain way so telling them they have to change is not really a positive step forward. There are better ways to develop a sustainable Go Green program, like getting workers involved from the off, and making clear the benefits on offer to everyone.

    • Staff Involvement – employers can appoint a team to develop the in-house recycling and green practices program. After all, who knows better how things can be changed in a practical way? Working together, more effective recycling and energy reduction drives can be initiated and general best practices and principles can be adopted. Just make sure the necessary resources are available. Also, make it fun! Encourage staff to come up with activities and events that promote the greener practices.
    • Educate on Benefits – when people know why a change is good, they are much more likely to agree to it. Put up posters to promote the benefits of going and staying green. You might also produce a monthly or quarterly Go Green newsletter where information can be shared, not least the results of your own energy-saving and recycling efforts.
  6. Choose Eco-Friendly Cleaning Products
    This is often overlooked as a key step towards a greener workplace, but it shouldn’t be. Every workplace (like everyone’s home) needs to be cleaned, and that usually means using lots of kinds of chemical cleaning products when mopping floors, shampooing carpets, cleaning windows and, of course, keeping the staff kitchen and restrooms hygienically clean.
    So, it stands to reason that choosing eco-friendly detergents are going to have an impact on the greenness of your office or workplace.Of course, depending on the size of your business, you may outsource that particular aspect, but take some time to discuss the matter with the cleaning company you’ve hired.
    If they are unwilling to change, you might want to consider other options, but most already offer environmentally-friendly cleaning services.Good Environmental Choice Australia (GECA) casts an eye over the status of a wide variety of products, including cleaning products. Look for their GECA Green Star rated product. Also, check out what the Australian environmental research and education body, Fresh Green Clean, is saying for more on eco-labeling and what you should be looking out for.
    Alsco’s own Fresh & Clean range offers cleaner restroom hygiene options, while for workshops and garages, Alsco’s EcoSafe Washer provides effective eco-friendly machine parts washing.

The idea that adopting a programme to Go Green at work is a headache and financial drain is hardly accurate. The fact is that modern business is geared for the switch to eco-friendliness. And besides, there is plenty of help out there for those who want to make the switch or maximize their green status.

We have included a lot of links here already, but a few more worth checking out include:

  • Emissions Reduction Fund from the Department of the Environment
  • Australia Government Business website for a host of details on the individual state environmental legislation and codes of practice, as well as federal energy, grants and awards advice and environmental management efficiency opportunities and code of practice

Happy Going Green!

 Image Courtesy : Zhao!

Image licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-NoDerivs 2.0 Generic  license 

I Survived!

AED Defibrillator

A cardiac arrest…

…It can happen anywhere

It is a fact that 80% of all cardia deaths happen at home, at work or in your spare time. In Australia, almost 30,000 people die of Sudden Cardiac Arrest in a year.

…It can happen to anybody

And this person could be you. Id does not matter whether you are a smoker, non-smoker, overweight, underweight, anyone could have a cardiac arrest. Some people are more likely to than others but no one is safe.

….The first ten minute are crucial

Survival rates are best inside the first ten minutes. It usually takes emergency services that much time to arrive.

There is one chance!

So having the right equipment at hand is absolutely critical.

And it is actually quite simple. The only chance of survival is an immediate attempt at resuscitation and for an electrical shock to be delivered to the heart by a defibrillator. That is really the key to survive cardiac arrest!

Survive Cardiac Arrest! Save Lives!

This booklet below tells you about AEDs and the incredible Heartsine Defibrillators that Alsco supplies. Click on the image to read more.

Don’t  forget to give a call to Alsco to get these HeartSine Defibrillators for your workplace.

Remember Cardiac Arrests are a matter of life and death. By choosing Heartsine you could be choosing life!

HeartSine Booklet

RCA Launches Cellar Reserve

An exclusive, cost-effective wine marketplace for Australian restaurants

Alsco, a premier supplier of beautiful crisp linen and functional, comfortable chef coats to the Australian hospitality industry, is delighted to be associated with the Restaurant and Catering Association, the premier association representing this industry.

As a part of its efforts to work towards the interest of the industry, the Restaurant and Catering Association (RCA) recently launched Cellar Reserve, a marketplace for boutique Australian wines.

The Cellar Reserve website at www.cellarreserve.com.au is an exclusive, first-of-its-kind, online marketplace which supports both restaurants and wineries. The marketplace aims to make it simple and cost effective for restaurants across the country to purchase beautiful Australian wines. At the same time it encourages local wineries by providing them direct access to the restaurants across Australia.

Businesses, particularly those looking to buy or sell small quantities of niche wines are sure to find this a useful and handy means that is simple and reliable too. Being brought to you by RCA is a stamp on the quality of the luxurious wines on offer. With RCAs reach right around Australia, they have access to a wide range of fine wines.

Alsco is proud to be supporting the restaurant and catering industry with cost effective and hassle free solutions for them. A fixed monthly rental avoids huge capital outlays in buying linen or the equipment needed for their upkeep and maintenance. Alsco will deliver bright, clean linen laundered in its state-of-the-art units to restaurants.

Alsco realises that linen is a vital element in the creating and maintaining the image of an eatery. Maintaining the quality of the linen is essential and Alsco ensures that all worn out linen are replaced at no extra cost to and with no extra effort on the part of the owners.

“We are proud of our association with the hospitality industry and with Restaurant and Catering Association. The Cellar Reserve is a unique service from this association that is sure to benefit its members. Alsco too strives to bring brilliant products and services that have been a great asset for this industry and its members.” said Jane Lawrence, Marketing Manager at Alsco.

 

Photograph Courtesy: A1404