Distributors are still discovering domestic equipment in commercial kitchens they have been asked to service, particularly in smaller cafes and community-based kitchens.
While the practice is not illegal, domestic appliances are not designed for the demands of commercial use and are likely to break down or even pose a danger to users. CEDA’s director of technical support, Peter Kay, commented: “People buy domestic equipment due to the price and ignorance of the difference in performance. They also possibly do not realise that the warranty on the equipment is null and void if used for commercial purposes.”
He also warned of health risks: “Domestic microwaves are too low powered to quickly heat food to a safe temperature unless it is left in for a fairly long time, while domestic refrigerators do not have the same levels of insulation or compressor power as commercial units and therefore they cannot maintain safe temperatures in commercial use.”
Court Catering Equipment’s Nick Howe said that he would advise his engineers to turn off the gas supply from any kitchen they found using domestic equipment. However, he believes the practice is actually decreasing.
Nevertheless, Phil Bullivant, MD at Bradshaw reported: “We see a huge number of domestic microwaves in smaller catering units. If insurance companies see them being used they can nullify a claim on the basis that the equipment is not fit for purpose.”
Nick Brassett, head of business development at YCE Catering Equipment added: “We have seen a few cases in the centre of London where a client wanted to create a home from home open plan kitchen environment, so they asked us to install high end domestic equipment.
“We have refrained, not least because our engineers are not qualified to fit and install this. They have regretted this and found no end of issues with the equipment, warranty and service.”
As to improving the situation, CEDA’s Kay said: “I cannot see any government introducing legislation on this. However, EHOs could be more thorough when they find domestic equipment in commercial premises. They could check temperatures in refrigerators and of food coming out of microwave ovens.”