Flooring is an element of kitchen design and outfit that is often overlooked, but the importance of a robust, hygienic surface underfoot cannot be overstated.
The market for commercial kitchen flooring is fairly specialised however, but one leading manufacturer is Hertfordshire-based Altro.
The firm believes that distributors and end-users need to primarily consider safety and hygiene factors when choosing flooring. “Consideration should also be given to creating a comfortable working environment, durability, life cycle costs and minimum downtime when it comes to installation,” said Martyn West, Altro’s specifications manager – North.
“Employers have a responsibility for everyone using their kitchen or industrial catering area. Every food business operation must ensure that food safety is never compromised. The layout, design and construction of food premises must prevent the accumulation of dirt and the shedding of particles. Floors and walls must have impervious, non-absorbent and washable surfaces. All floors, walkways and stairs must be safe for employees or clients.”
He believes that with varied and complex contaminants being an everyday issue, an increased level of slip resistance is a must-have in kitchen and food preparation areas. “Ensure your chosen safety flooring offers sustained slip resistance beyond the HSE’s recommended level of TRRL 36, even when contaminants such as greasy water, milk, flour, cooking oil are on the floor. And do ask for proof of sustained slip resistance – you need confidence that your chosen flooring will continue to perform like new, year after year.”
West reported that the surfaces chosen for kitchens and food preparation areas must meet exceptionally high health and safety and food hygiene standards – increasingly this spells problems for many traditionally used finishes, such as ceramic tiles which can provide a breeding ground for bacterial growth.
“Cost of course is a constraint, but consider life cycle costs as well as installation processes. Downtime costs money, so ease and speed of installation are key,” said West. “Choose products designed to minimise downtime and cause the least disruption to busy kitchens and production runs. For the same reasons consider durability – fit products that are manufactured to perform to a high standard over a long period of time, even in the most demanding environments.”
To conform to the HACCP food safety management standards, excellent hygiene and rigorous cleaning routines are essential, and surfaces must be impervious to bacteria ingress and easy to clean to prevent contamination. “We recommend using a system designed to work together, such as Altro Stronghold safety flooring and Altro Whiterock hygienic wall cladding – both of which are HACCP approved,” he added.