Kitchen nightmares – 5 cleaning issues FMs should be aware of

The procurement of cleaning services plays an integral role in facilities management at any organisation, but when it comes to kitchens and foodservice operations, staying on top of hygiene is critical.
Aside from daily cleaning to maintain basic food safety, it is enormously important to arrange regular deep cleans from highly trained, accredited professionals. They can reach the parts that kitchen staff cannot reach, dismantling equipment where necessary to decarbonise, degrease and sanitise.
However, it’s not just cooking equipment that needs attention. Regular deep cleaning of ductwork and ventilation systems is also business critical.

Barry Osborn, MD of TWO Services, an award winning kitchen cleaning and maintenance company, takes a look at some of the less obvious and in some cases dangerous, cleaning and hygiene issues to be aware of.

1 The hidden menace

The majority of vital ductwork, extraction and ventilation systems are concealed, making it easy to forget about the hidden hazards that lie within.
Barry explains: “Grease from cooking oil rapidly builds up in filters, settles on canopies, extractor fans and ductwork. It sits there waiting to catch fire and provides a breeding ground for bacteria. It can put your whole building, business and staff at risk. And unless it’s dealt with properly, it can invalidate your insurance.
That’s why we don’t just clean canopies and filters. We carry out a thorough ventilation and internal ductwork clean to BESA TR/19 standards.
We recommend that kitchens with moderate use (6-12 hours per day) – should plan a clean every six months. However those operating more than 12 hours a day or using cooking processes involving fat frying or wood/charcoal burning, may need cleaning more frequently.”
He adds: “Regular deep cleaning of your kitchen appliances, storage areas and surfaces will also improve baseline hygiene, motivating staff to keep on top of daily cleaning protocols and making it easier for them to maintain.”

2 Risk of prosecution

A spokesman for the Fire Authority has stated “uncleaned grease extract ventilation systems present probably the greatest potential fire risk in buildings with catering facilities”.
The Fire Safety Order of 2005 requires those responsible for workplaces to appoint a ‘responsible person’ to carry out a fire risk assessment of their premises, identifying all possible sources for fire which might endanger the lives of building occupants. They are legally required to take action to eliminate – or at least to minimise – risks to the safety of the building’s occupants.
Barry points out; “If you are that ‘responsible person’, the buck stops with you. Failure to arrange regular deep cleans of ductwork and ventilation is a breach of this legislation, making you liable to prosecution. If a fire causes injury or death, you may be liable to criminal prosecution.”

3 Occupational health risks

Blocked or dirty ductwork and ventilation systems will result in more overheating and fumes in the kitchen environment. Aside from being unpleasant, this is a serious health hazard. Cooking fumes contain airborne contaminants such as carcinogenic and mutagenic compounds, with several studies finding associations between exposure to cooking fumes and an increased risk of respiratory cancer.
What’s more, increased levels of deadly toxin, carbon monoxide (CO), can be harmful with evidence showing that chronic exposure even at relatively low levels, can have significant effects on long-term health. Symptoms of mild CO poisoning include headaches and dizziness.

4 Increased costs

Less harmful to humans, but still harmful to the business, are the economic consequences of dirt. The extra weight of grease build up on ventilation fans, means it can take up to 35% more energy to make them turn.

As Barry explains; “Clean fans means reduced energy bills. Add to that the implications on cooking equipment of wear and tear, reduced reliability and projected lifespan, and the relatively low costs of a clean soon pale into insignificance.”

5 Increased absenteeism and staff turnover

Would you want to work in a kitchen that is regularly hot and smelly? Clean, well maintained duct and ventilation systems mean less overheating, fumes and smells. Staff will be more comfortable, leading to improved productivity, better staff retention and less absenteeism from work-related health issues.

Barry concludes:
‘There is more to cleaning and hygiene than just keeping the environmental health officer at bay and it needn’t disrupt your organisation or break the budget. Expert cleaning companies should be able to offer overnight services, as well as tailor cleans to suit your needs.
For instance as well as full deep cleans, we offer partial cleans of either structure (ceilings, walls and floors) or hot equipment and canopies, plus staggering your cleaning regime can help to spread the cost for budgeting purposes.
For example you could plan a hot equipment clean after 4 months, then 4 months later a structural clean, then four months later, a full annual deep clean. This effectively gives you two full deep cleans a year, but spread over three visits.”
If you would like more advice or information, call 0800 22 44 33 or visit

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