Food safety from start to end; Aramco takes no shortcuts to ensuring food hygiene
Aramco has end-to-end processes to ensure food hygiene, starting with the procurement of ingredients, monitoring the freshness of fruits and vegetables, all the way to safe food disposal.
Every single day, an army of cooks, sous chefs, and attendants produces an astounding 70,000 healthy meals a day in Aramco’s communities across the Kingdom. That’s 25 million meals a year.
Given the incredible volume of food, it should come as no surprise that Aramco has end-to-end processes to ensure food hygiene, starting with the procurement of ingredients, monitoring the freshness of fruits and vegetables, all the way to safe food disposal.
The process — developed by Community Services (CS) as part of its Safety Management System — begins at the point of purchase, where inspectors oversee the quality of the thousands of vegetables, poultry, and dairy products from the local market, while managing food contamination risk such as:
- Chemical: pesticides and detergents
- Biological: bacteria, viruses, and mold
- Physical: hair, plastic, and stones
- Allergenic: peanuts, eggs, soy, and fish.
In addition, inspectors individually check each item for rotten vegetables, dented cans, melted or spoiled food, or dirty containers.
CS inspectors will also inspect the food supplier’s trucks as well. Each truck is inspected and logged for the right transport temperature, ensuring that the transport temperature is neither too cold nor too hot.
‘’Food safety and quality is critical to our success as a business. Ensuring safe and high-quality products that satisfy our customers is a top priority,’’ said Amal Hamid, Food Group leader at one of the food concession operations.
On arrival, the food is unboxed and separated into one of two zones for storage; the dry store and the chiller area. By using a first in, first out method, Aramco ensures that the restaurants and dining halls in its community are ensuring freshness and avoiding expired items.
Each storage area has its own safety and environmental standards, according to its type, such as dry or chilled. The best temperature ventilation, lighting, space, and floor type are crucial. For instance, dry store temperatures must be maintained at below 30 degrees Celsius (86 degrees Fahrenheit); all shelves must be elevated and never attached to the wall, with enough space between for housekeeping.
To clean fresh vegetables without causing contamination, a closed designated area containing a three compartment sink for washing, sanitizing with chlorine solution, and rinsing has been designed. Once the cleaning is done, all vegetables are prepared in clean containers and saved inside chillers for the chefs’ use.
Far from the veggies in a separate room is the preparation area for meat, fish, and chicken. Meat products are considered a high-risk food, and must be handled with their own equipment, sink, and chopping board. Food preparers even use a color-coding system for cutting knives and boards to avoid cross-contamination.
At the food cooking stage, inspectors monitor the food visually along with the temperature. The temperature is checked while food is on the stove, and later it is monitored at the serving line every two hours, making sure that all hot food is kept above 60 degrees Celsius (140 degrees Fahrenheit) or higher during display and service. All cold food is kept below 5 degrees Celsius (41 degrees Fahrenheit).
Also, inspectors take food samples of the serving dishes and hold those samples for three days as a reference for any potential reported foodborne illness.
Highest global standards
CS follows the highest global standards, including the International Organization of Standardization and Hazard Analysis Critical Control Point Certified Food Management System. It also provides training to every individual food supply chain vendor for Level 4 International Award in Managing Food Safety for Catering certification.
In addition, third party audits are conducted annually across all of our facilities to ensure food safety, quality, and excellence.
Caption for top photo: Chefs and attendants across Aramco’s operations take care to prepare and handle food safely at all points, from purchase to storage to cooking and delivery.