Back-of-the-house savings

When it comes to this year's crop of new products, once again it's all about "green." Of course, "green" means products that are energy savers or environmentally friendly. But you can also think of it in terms of products that will save you "green"—ones that deliver direct cost or labor savings. So here are a few of this year's new products that will help your operation become a little more "green," or put a little more green in your pocket.

Energy savers
Dish machines and warewashers—big consumers of both water and energy—have new features designed to make them more energy-efficient. While you might not think of your warewasher as a recycler, that's one of the functions of the new Advansys Ventless Warewasher from Hobart. It captures the water vapor created by the washing process and reuses it to preheat incoming cold water, which lessens the amount of energy needed to heat that water. The arched rinse arm on the Jackson CREW series of conveyor dish machines reduces water usage. It also has a control system to ensure that the machine operates only when a rack is being washed or rinsed, thus avoiding accidental empty operation.

Another energy-saving device that's being included in many different types of back-of-house equipment is the automatic power-down or reduced-energy switch.

It can be especially useful in machines that cook or heat food, due to the high amount of energy used in the heating process. The Alto-Shaam CombiTouch combi oven and Middleby Marshall's Mini WOW conveyor oven are just two pieces of cooking equipment that now include this feature.

You can also find an increasing number of environmentally friendly products for front-of-house usage. Operators who are looking for more natural alternatives for their tableware and cutlery might want to check out the Packnwood line of products from First Pack. Made from such natural materials as wood, palm leaf and bamboo, the line includes displayware, cutlery and even baking molds. Eco-Products has introduced a cold beverage cup made from 50 percent recycled PET bottles—the type of bottles often used for packaged soft drinks.

For cleaning jobs, Daimer Industries' Eco-Green cleaning products are plant- and vegetable-based chemical solutions that are soap-free and readily biodegradable.

Money savers
Almost every foodservice operation has a fryer of some type—and that means buying lots of oil. With that in mind, fryer manufacturers have developed ways to cut down on oil usage. One such oil saver, the Spin Fresh frying system, picked up one of the Kitchen Innovation awards at the 2010 NRA Show. The system has a rotating frying basket which, after the food inside it has fried, spins to allow excess oil to drain off. That excess oil goes back into the oil tank and can be reused, thus saving money on replacement oil. It's available in a floor model fryer from Pitco and a countertop model from the Perfect Fry Company. A more traditional line of deep fryers, the Frymaster OCF30 series, has a controller to manage oil quality and life, as well as an automatic replenishment system to avoid overfilling.

Proper food rotation and storage systems are essential to avoid health citations, wasted food and wasted money. Ecolab's Prep-N-Print food labeling system combines an updatable, Web-based food labeling program with a dedicated label printer. As a food item is checked in, the system prints out a label for the item. The label shows the exact product description and predetermined shelf life, thus eliminating errors caused by incorrect dating or illegible handwriting. Cambro's new Camshelving Elements line of shelving is made from a composite material, with shelf lengths ranging up to 78 inches. The shelves come with a lifetime warranty against rust and corrosion—potential food safety hazards that can sometimes develop when traditional wire shelving becomes wet.

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