Our Kitchens

Quality Assurance During the Procurement of Raw Materials

The Safety and Quality Management System (SQMS) covers subprocesses like supplier selection, supplier qualification, supplier rating, etc., to ensure that the right and best raw materials are procured. Our quality control process ensures that raw materials are accepted only after a thorough quality inspection to meet all the requirements of our raw material specifications, which are generally taken and adapted from the Food Safety Standards Act 2006 (FSSA).

Storage, Handling and Preservation of Raw Materials

Fresh vegetables are procured on a daily basis. After procurement, vegetables are sorted to retain the best quality. All the vegetables are cleaned with potable water and sanitised before cutting. Cold storage is used to store ready-to-cook cut vegetables to retain freshness. Rice is supplied by the Food Corporation of India (FCI). Before the cooking process, the rice is machine-cleaned and washed thoroughly. In order to ensure all the raw materials are fresh, all the kitchens follow the FIFO (First In-First Out) and FEFO (First Expiry-First Out) methods while issuing the raw material for production. By doing so, the kitchens are able to properly identify, store and retrieve the raw materials in an appropriate manner.

Quality and Safety During Cooking

All our kitchens follow a standard process for preparing mid-day meals. This process is charted out to adhere to food safety standards and ensure the hygiene and quality of the cooked meal. All the cooking equipment, like cauldrons, trolleys, rice chutes and sambar/dal tanks, cutting boards, knives, etc., are sterilised using steam before the cooking process begins. The vessels used in the kitchens are made of stainless steel of 304 grade and are best for cooking and handling food.

The decentralised kitchen units are equipped with necessary cooking equipment like chapati pans, cooking vessels for rice and dal, and vessels for transporting the cooked mid-day meals to schools. Personal hygiene and food safety training are provided regularly to the kitchen staff to ensure that hygiene standards are met.

All the kitchens have well-trained cooks and production supervisors to manage and supervise the production. Critical Control Points (CCPs), like cooking temperature, are checked and recorded at periodic intervals to ensure the quality of the meal.

To ensure food quality is maintained, regular quality checks are done by the quality officers in each kitchen.

Food Packing and Transportation

The cooked food is packed in steam-sterilised vessels. We use specially designed and customised transport vehicles to deliver food packed in stainless steel 304-grade vessels. The vehicles are also steam sterilised before the loading process. These vehicles use a puffed body to reduce the temperature loss and a honeycomb structure to hold the vessels upright and keep the freshness of the cooked meal intact till it is served to the children. Methods like logistic charting for route optimisation and GPRS are used to track the delivery vehicles for safety and on-time delivery.

Post Delivery Process

In order to consistently maintain the quality of the meal, we take regular feedback from schools. The quality officers in the kitchens review the feedback and initiate appropriate corrective or improvement actions as deemed necessary to improve the quality and delivery of food. We also circulate ‘Do’s and Don’ts’ pamphlets to all schools on a regular basis to create awareness on food safety and hygiene while serving mid-day meals.

Audit and review mechanisms play a crucial role in monitoring the key processes and systems and their performance. We have institutionalised Good Manufacturing Process (GMP), monthly audits, surprise audits on food safety and quality, etc. Quality metrics performance is reviewed on a monthly basis. Detailed customer satisfaction surveys are done by the quality staff at periodic intervals apart from the day-to-day feedback we take during food delivery. In certified kitchens, ISO 22000 Internal Audits are done twice a year by qualified Internal Auditors led by quality and FSMS managers. Our certification body undertakes surveillance audits twice a year. The data from all the respective audits are reviewed and appropriate improvement or corrective actions are taken. All actions are further monitored till effective implementation.

Continual Improvement Methods

As we aim to maintain and better our services by sustaining the quality of the mid-day meals we provide, there is a need for continual improvement. We need to advance the performance of various processes continuously so that every cycle of improvement leads to the next level of achievement. We adopted a holistic approach and designed a programme called ‘AkshayaPragathi’. As a part of the programme, we are adopting and implementing Kaizen, CI Projects and Six Sigma methodologies to ensure and make every member a part of these initiatives. Training is an integral part of the Continual Improvement Programme. Regular training workshops on 5S, GMP, Lean and Kaizen, and ISO 22000 Awareness are conducted for kitchen employees across all locations.

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