Professional kitchens in Cincinnati, Ohio must meet specific guidelines regarding physical facilities, equipment, utensils, water and plumbing before operations begin. The Ohio Uniform Food Safety Code provides the detailed requirements for each category; kitchens and restaurants must meet all stated guidelines and requirements to operate legally. The Cincinnati Heath Department’s Environmental Health Food Safety Office conducts physical facility inspections and provides guidance to current and potential business owners regarding the state regulations.
Physical Facility Guidelines
All floors, walls and ceilings must be smooth and easily cleanable. Exceptions to this include anti-slip flooring and other safety-designed flooring which may have a rough or pebbled surface. All light bulbs used in areas with exposed food, clean equipment, linens, or utensils must be shatter-resistant. Temperature and ventilation control systems must not contaminate food preparation areas with air intake or exhaust. Exterior doors, opening to the outside must be solid, self-closing, tight-fitting doors to protect against rodent or insect entry.
Equipment and Utensil Standards
Utensils and other materials used in the preparation of food items must not transfer colors, odors or flavor to foods and must also be “safe, durable, corrosion-resistant, and nonabsorbent; sufficient in weight and thickness to withstand repeated warewashing; finished to have a smooth, easily cleanable surface; and resistant to pitting, chipping, crazing, scratching, scoring, distortion, and decomposition,” according to the Ohio Department of Health. Equipment or materials made of reactive metals, wood or sponges must not be used, as food contamination risk increases with these materials.
Each food facility must contain equipment to properly sanitize all equipment and utensils using the hot water or chemical sanitizing methods. Sanitizing must occur after cleaning equipment or utensils and before their use. Hot water sanitizing requires that the surface temperature of the utensil meet or exceed 160 degrees Fahrenheit. Immerse utensils for a minimum of seven seconds in a chlorine solution with a pH of 10 and minimum temperature of 100 degrees Fahrenheit to chemically sanitize equipment and utensils.
Water and Plumbing System
Water used in a professional kitchen must come from an approved public water system or a private water system that meets the Ohio Administrative Code. The water source must meet the peak water demands of the food-service business, and hot water supplies must also meet peak demands. Equipment and employee use must be considered when determining peak water usage. All plumbing systems must meet general Ohio building codes, be easily cleanable and maintained in good repair.