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5 Key Factors To Consider During Mass Production Of Food

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By Author: Akshaya Patra
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When it is about large-scale cooking, hygiene and cleanliness is a major concern. The Akshaya Patra Foundation, a mid-day meal NGO in India is a pioneer in using technology for ensuring healthy and safe meals for children. This NGO began its service since 2000. Over the years, the Foundation has scaled up its feeding numbers from 1,500 children to 1.75 million children in 2018. Currently, Akshaya Patra is providing meals in 38 locations across 12 states of India, on each school day. Of the total, 36 locations operate centralised kitchens and two locations run decentralised kitchens.

Running such as a large programme sustainably and successfully isn’t a trivial task, and Akshaya Patra is well-aware of it. During the past 17 years of its service, Akshaya Patra has ensured that only healthy and hygienic meals reach the children each time and every time. Hence, the Foundation has paid utmost attention to five factors required during mass production of food in both its centralised kitchen concept operations and decentralised kitchen format:

1. Quality assurance of raw materials – Akshaya Patra has adopted Supplier Selection Management System to ensure that only best quality raw material is used for cooking meals. This system includes processes such as Supplier Selection, Supplier Qualification, Supplier Rating and the like. All the raw materials are inspected thoroughly before procurement based on Raw Material Specifications, which has been adapted from Food Safety Standards Act 2006 (FSSA). Vegetables are either procured daily or stored in cold storage. Dry raw materials such as rice, wheat, spices are stored in designated store rooms. FIFO (First In First Out) and FEFO (First Expiry First Out) methods are employed to ensure all the raw materials are fresh.

2. Hygiene and Cleanliness – This NGO in India follows a strict and mandatory hygiene and cleanliness process. Each and every kitchen staff across all kitchens have to mandatorily follow personal hygiene and food safety measures. All the vegetables are cleaned with potable water and sanitised before the cutting process. All the cooking equipment like cauldrons, trolleys, rice chutes and sambar/dal tanks, cutting boards, knives and the like are sterilised using steam before the cooking process begins. The vessels used in the kitchens are made of stainless steel of 304 grade that is best for cooking and handling food.

3. Standard Process and monitoring – The centralised kitchen concept of Akshaya Patra are operated based on Standard Operating Processes. Right from procurement of raw materials till delivery of meals, each stage is monitored closely to ensure safety of food. All Akshaya Patra kitchens have well-trained cooks and Production Supervisors to manage and supervise the production. Quality check is done by designated Quality Officers to ensure food quality is maintained. The Cooked food is packed in insulated vessels and transported in customised insulated delivery vehicles to retain freshness of meals. In addition, the NGO makes use of the GPRS technology to monitor safety and on-time delivery of meals.

4. Continuous Improvement – This mid-day meal NGO in India has adopted methods like Kaizen, Six Sigma, Continual Improvement Projects to enhance its efficiency and increase productivity. These methods have proved beneficial in reassessment of existing processes, innovating new processes, and implementing efficient procedures to enhance operations, maximise production, and benefit more children. The Foundation is a recipient of Indizen Award, CII National Food Safety Award, Lean Six Sigma Award, Quality Mark Award, and Asian MAKE Award by CII.

5. Eco-friendly measures – While taking care in mass production of food, Akshaya Patra is also aware of the pro-environmental measures it has to observe to safeguard the ecosystem. Hence, the NGO has adopted green technologies such as biogas plant, briquette boiler, solar power, and sewage treatment plants in most of its kitchens. The adoption of these measures has not only helped in reducing carbon footprint but has positively reduced operational cost too.

In conclusion, as an NGO in India Akshaya Patra is cognisant about the impact of its service, hence, apart from the above-mentioned five factors, it also takes all necessary measures and steps to provide nutritious and safe meals to millions of children across the country.

More About the Author

I'm a social volunteer, lives in Bengaluru. I do work for NGOs to make society better. Currently I'm working for The Akshaya Patra Foundation. It's an NGO in India which provides wholesome nutritious mid-day meals to government school children to end classroom hunger. https://www.akshayapatra.org/

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