The long-term efforts to control hygiene at Chinese food restaurants
We visited Ginza Aster Co., Ltd. to find out how they are managing food sanitation with SARAYA products in their restaurants. We hope that you can find some tips that you can use for your business.
Ginza Aster Co., Ltd.
• HQ location: Tokyo, Japan • Line of business: Chinese restaurant management, production and sale of Chinese takeaway food. • Number of offices: 41 Restaurants, 13 Deli, 1 Factory • URL: http://www.ginza-aster.co.jp/
First, can you please tell us about Ginza Aster?
We started as a San Francisco-style, modern Chinese restaurant in 1926. We have always worked to provide delicious food that is also exciting and surprises our guests. This is how our founder did it. We started technical training in mainland China in 1964, when Japan and China still had not resumed diplomatic relations. In fact, we have studied the dishes and food culture from all over China more than 40 years. We sublimated the arts of food/service/atmosphere and tweaked them for Japanese tastes, preference and sensitivity. Ginza Aster has a tasting event called the Meisaiseki as its showcase. The Meisaiseki, which started in 1977, has been held 358 times so far and is one of our sources of creativity that establishes Ginza Aster a top tier restaurant.
Please tell us about your restaurants.
We focused on opening restaurants at department stores after World War II, started a lot of large guesthouses during Japan’s period of high growth and then expanded into delicatessens. We have recently been opening restaurants at landmarks like Osaka Abeno Harukas and Tokyo Sky Tree. We now have 41 restaurants, 13 delis and a factory that supplies food to delis. We sell food cooked at our factory and restaurants at our delicatessens.
When did you start business with SARAYA?
About 20 years ago. I heard that we started working together when we were considering using alcohol to sanitize our kitchens. We would sanitize cutting boards, knives and towels not with alcohol, but with bleach when I first was in charge of the kitchen. Suddenly we were able to easily sanitize various things like kitchen counters and cookware once adopting SARAYA’s alcohol sanitizers.
How did everybody wash hands before?
We used to wash hands with bar soap, disinfect with a quat based soap and dry with a towel that contained sodium hypochlorite before alcohol was introduced. Sodium hypochlorite bleach made our hands rough, wasn’t as effective as alcohol and takes a very long time. That’s why we changed to alcohol sanitizer. We also started using an antibacterial liquid soap, Shavonet, because bar soap just wasn’t sanitary enough and leads to cross-contamination. Right now we actually wash our hands with a sink that automatically dispenses liquid soap, water and alcohol. It’s dramatically changed since the beginning.
Why did you start using Sanistar electrolyzed water?
We have many appetizers. We cannot always say that Chinese food is safe just because we fry food. The cooking process is getting more complicated than ever, since there are dishes that cross boundaries such as Chinese-Japanese or Chinese-French on our growing menu. The process is even harder at the restaurants that cook for our delis. This food isn’t eaten for hours after cooking. SARAYA introduced Sanistar to us when we were trying to figure how to deal with the risk of food poisoning in our new menus. Our employees liked the Sanistar after trying it out in our restaurant kitchens.
What are some benefits you have found with the Sanistar?
It has improved workability all around. The kitchen staff like the fact that they can rinse and sanitize cutting boards and knives at the same time. It frees up time to take orders and cook. Vegetables are all about their texture and flavor in Chinese cuisine, and the Sanistar never affects either of those. We felt that we were able to make work more efficient and provide safer food at the same time. The Sanistar has high sanitizing power, is safe and leaves no residual chlorine or odor.
What is hygiene education like at Ginza Aster?
Restaurant hygiene is strengthened and hygiene training is done by a food sanitation supervisor for employees on the 10th day of every month—Food Sanitation Day. Hygiene education is conducted several times a year in a seven-year educational program for cooks.
How do you take measures against norovirus?
We start taking measures against norovirus from every summer. We conduct education, certification and testing with internal hygiene audits of all the restaurants by winter. What we pay the most attention to is employees’ personal hygiene and health. Employees are to report any symptoms and restrain from coming to work until they test negative on a stool test. We also investigate with internal audits whether employees fully understand what to do. I know it is very hard to have somebody absent when it is busy because I used to be a head chef. But employees need to know the risks of bringing viruses into the kitchen. It is important for those in the the food service industry to manage infection risks and know how to handle the situation if infected.