Full steam ahead as combi oven study gets underway

Rational combi ovens

The chief trade body for suppliers of catering equipment will examine the volume of water used by combi ovens and steamers following talks with the Water Regulations Advisory Scheme (WRAS) in the wake of proposed changes to its Product Approval Scheme.

The water consumption of combi ovens attracted scrutiny after WRAS announced plans to change the Product Approval Scheme acceptance criteria for combi ovens that incorporate a facility using fresh water to cool the appliance’s wastewater from 1 April 2015. This related to undue consumption of water under the Water Supply (Water Fittings) Regulations and Byelaws.

However, officials from WRAS and CESA met up to discuss the issue last month after CESA challenged the changes and expressed its desire to have them withdrawn. It said that the re-interpretation would prevent approval being given to steamers and combi ovens that incorporate a facility using water to cool the waste water.

In a letter to WRAS last month, CESA patron, Rt. Hon. Lord Trefgarne PC, stated: “CESA has not been provided with the criteria for the decision… We would like to know the process for the decision being approved, the knowledge and expertise of the individuals making the judgement, and why the interpretation by the WRAS of the 1999 regulations has changed.”

The meeting, which was held at CESA’s London office, was led by the CESA patron, Lord Trefgarne, with Keith Warren, director, and Bryan Whittaker, technical advisor of CESA, plus representatives from Rational, Convotherm and Hobart, as well as PKL. WRAS was represented by chair Stephen Kay, MD Julie Spinks and technical manager Paul Millard.

CESA used the meeting to present the generic case that water should be able to be used to cool the waste water as an integral part of the process of the effective functioning of the appliance. CESA members were able to demonstrate that the timing of the change had not taken into account the significant impact on manufacturers or allowed time for them to prepare for the change and suggest reasonable practical alternatives. In response, WRAS agreed to postpone the introduction of the acceptance criteria and actively work in partnership with CESA to find a solution.

CESA has agreed to investigate the volume of water used by combi ovens and steamers, especially compared to other cooking methods for similar volumes of food. Meanwhile, the manufacturers will be devoting resources to the development of technologies that will further reduce the water consumption of their equipment.

WRAS will work with manufactures and water companies in line with the need to reduce water consumption, but recognised the significant timescales that manufacturers need for research and development to bring new products to market.

“This was an excellent meeting and the outcome is everything we had hoped for,” said CESA director Keith Warren. “In accepting our submissions, WRAS made it clear that in future they will work more closely with CESA on this issue. Manufacturers are already committed to minimising energy and water consumption of the affected appliances — they will now focus resources on finding a solution to this aspect of the technology.”

Julie Spinks of WRAS said she was pleased with the outcome of the meeting. “I believe that WRAS and CESA can work together to find a better solution and that manufactures can play their part in reducing the use of water in their products for the benefit of their customers.”

The purpose of WRAS is to contribute to the protection of public health by preventing contamination of public water supplies and encouraging the efficient use of water by promoting and facilitating compliance with the Water Supply (Water Fittings) Regulations and Scottish Water Byelaws. The organisation says its Approval Scheme is the best way to demonstrate compliance as it is granted directly by representatives of the water suppliers and is therefore accepted by every water supplier in the UK.

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