We, at Anytime Chefs, have recently begun to offer Private Chef services for people who are interested in having intimate parties or celebrations in their homes.
However, we know that as a result of being cooped up inside their homes due to the lockdown, many people are more eager to dine out.
But safe public dining remains a top concern.
Back in late January of this year, a study concluded that air-conditioned ventilation contributed to a Covid-19 virus outbreak in a restaurant. Granted that the study has limitations, it cannot be denied that room ventilation plays a significant role in controlling the transmission of airborne infectious diseases.
Restaurants have unique ventilation needs, and all of them contribute to your customers, having a safe and comfortable dining experience. From the more obvious need to control food odours and minimize smoke/fumes from the cooking process, the right ventilation in your kitchen can support your Chef and kitchen staff to perform optimally inside high temp locations.
In a pre-Covid-19 world, if your restaurant has a weak ventilation system, you can expect safety violations, frustrated customers, higher utility bills, lower employee morale and productivity. But now, the stakes are higher since it can directly contribute to illness, and worse, death.
If you have no space to provide outdoor dining to your guests, here are just some tips to address ventilation challenges and safe dining concerns:
1. Check Your Makeup Air Systems
One necessary component of ventilation is makeup air, which is the air pumped back into the room to compensate for the air suctioned out by your exhaust ventilation system.
If air is continuously exhausted at a 100% rate, an ample amount of air from outside must come in at a rate of 80%. Without this balance, what results is a condition called depressurization or negative pressure.
Depressurization or negative pressure will:
- Make it hard for your ventilation system to exhaust all the cooking fumes and odours outside from your kitchen and dining, resulting in poor indoor air quality.
- Result to back venting of smoke, odours or harmful gases.
- Make it difficult to open doors, or they may slam shut
- Reduce energy efficiency because your exhaust system will work extra hard to perform its function
But makeup air can also come from a wide variety of sources such as a rooftop intake unit or properly screened doors and windows, which is why opened windows or doors are being encouraged.
According to Prof. Don Milton, Professor of Environmental Health, University of Maryland School of Medicine, researchers find that each person in a room should have 5 to 10 litres of fresh or filtered air per second.
Also, according to Milton, fresh air dilutes the virus and reduces the level of exposure for humans, making infection less likely.
In the abovementioned study, the exhaust fans were sealed up when it happened. That means that access to outside air is shut off.
Consult your HVAC professional to assess if you are exhausting more air than is necessary and if you need to introduce more makeup air into your system.
2. Avoid Air Recirculation
To help control airborne infectious diseases, air should not be recirculated. Air conditioning units should operate on 100% outdoor air.
One way of disabling recirculation is by closing recirculation dampers and opening outdoor air dampers. But if that is not possible, you can maximize the outdoor air level by opening doors and windows or use ultraviolet in-duct irradiation of recirculated air (More of this later..)
If there are areas in your restaurant that have air stagnation, you can use other air circulation systems to bring in outdoor air.
Keep in mind that some popular high energy-efficient systems, called splits, recirculate the air but don’t bring in fresh air or provide filtration.
3. Install Upper UV Lights
Ultraviolet light disinfects. This study states that UV radiation is effective in reducing the prevalence of airborne fungi when used in air handling units. And this study is just one among many.
Uv lights for your HVAC can also help cut energy costs since less energy will be needed to push air indoors as a result of less microbial or organic buildup in the HVAC system.
The primary purpose of a UV light is to improve air quality by stopping harmful particles at the source before they can enter your air supply. Typically, the UV light is installed near the coils to prevent bacteria or mould growth when air passes through.
But do they work for Covid-19?
This is a promising thing. UV lights can kill most coronaviruses. And according to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), ultraviolet germicidal irradiation is one of the most promising decontamination methods for COVID-19, commonly called coronavirus.
As I’ve said, this is promising but not yet proven. Testings are continuously being done. It will be worth following on this topic for consideration.
Ventilation-related interventions partnered with other Covid-19 safety measures will help reduce the airborne infection rates for airborne infectious agents. More than ever, the health and safety of your dining customers take centre stage. If needed, collaborate with infection prevention specialists knowledgeable about the transmission of infection in the community and the workplace and about strategies for prevention and risk mitigation.
That’s it for this week.
As always, Professional Chefs on Call at Anytime!
Ciao for now,