Foodservice Equipment & Supplies

JAN 2014

Foodservice Equipment & Supplies magazines is an industry resource connecting foodservice operators, equipment and supplies manufacturers and dealers, and facility design consultants.

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38 • FOODSERVICE EQUIPMENT & SUPPLIES • JANUARY 2014 ith the new federal school nutri- tion guidelines, fresh produce has become a staple in the K-12 foodservice community. Of course, intro- ducing more fresh produce to the school foodservice segment does not come without its challenges, such as increased labor for washing fruits and vegetables delivered by local farmers. In an effort to provide students with the cleanest and safest local produce possible, Texas' Con- roe Independent School District (CISD) sought a sanitary solution that would help decrease labor in its cafeteria kitchens. The district has come a long way since classes were frst held in a one-room schoolhouse back in 1886. Created by the Commissioners Court of Montgomery County, Texas, CISD now encompasses 30 elementary schools, 9 intermedi- ate schools, 7 junior high schools, 3 ninth-grade campuses, 6 high schools, 2 academies and an alternative-discipline program spread out over 348 square miles. As one of the fastest-growing school districts in the nation, CISD has more than 55,000 students and more than 6,000 full- time employees. "CISD uses a lot of local produce that needs to be thoroughly washed," says Robert McNamara, Produce Soak product specialist for Unifed Brands. "Schools in the district were washing produce daily by hand with an antimicrobial bacterial solution." Unlike school nutrition, there are no guidelines for washing produce in the K-12 segment, which has led to schools washing all, some or none of the produce. And how schools ap- proach washing produce can be all over the board. Some schools use an antimicrobial solution; others use plain water or a safe concentration of bleach that requires rinsing. "Proper produce washing and sanitizing extends the life of pro- duce, because most of the bacteria are removed and killed by a sanitizing solu- tion," McNamara says. "Yet, people feel if prepackaged produce is prewashed, it's free of bacteria, but this is not the case. One hundred percent of the bac- teria cannot be removed at any stage of the washing and sanitizing process." CISD was already a Unifed Brands customer, utilizing more than 50 of the company's Power Soak continuous- motion pot and pan washing systems. These units work using a pump and wash jet system to rotate pots and pans from the back to the front of the sink bay to dislodge soil. "Power Soak reallocates labor used for pot and pan washing by as much as 50 percent," McNamara says. "We were looking to reallocate labor that was dedicated to produce washing, while increasing the shelf life and ensuring fresh, clean, sanitized produce for students." Previously, the district had purchased a competitor's produce washing system. Since CISD was pleased with its con- tinuous-motion warewashing system, management asked Unifed Brands to develop a produce washer based on its Power Soak technology. About three years ago the frst Produce Soak was created and tested in the district. Today, CISD has 38 of these systems in use at its schools. Simply put, the new system automates manual produce washing by disengaging bacteria from fruits and vegetables in gentle, free-fowing wash water. This allows the free-rinsing antimicrobial to kill bacteria, providing clean, safe and sanitized produce for students, while extending its shelf life. SPECIAL ADVERTISING SECTION t FRESH - TO - TABLE FUSS Conroe Independent School District (CISD), Conroe, Texas • Type of service: K-12 school foodservice • Number of locations: 30 elementary schools, 9 intermediate schools, 7 junior high schools, 3 ninth-grade campuses, 6 high schools, 2 academies and 1 alternative-discipline program. CISD serves 55,000 students daily. • Challenge: The school district needed to effectively and efficiently clean fresh produce without compromising food safety or adding labor. • Solution: Unified Brands' Produce Soak • Results: More consistent produce cleaning, extended food shelf life and reduced labor costs CASE STU Conroe Independent School District, Conroe, Texas Cantrell Industries and Unified Brands, Kansas City, Mo. Each section of the Produce Soak system includes three high-volume jets and wash inserts, which rotate produce while it's being cleaned for more uniform and sanitary results

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