Refrigeration is essential for food safety in commercial kitchens where large quantities of perishable food is stored, such as in cafeterias and restaurants. The FDA and USDA set strict guidelines, but a few simple steps can help keep commercial kitchens organized and prevent waste.
1. Always use old stock first. it’s called the first in, first out rule which is pretty simple—always use older stock first. This rule not only protects food quality and safety, but it ensures that you don’t lose money by tossing spoiled product. Whenever a new shipment arrives, make sure it is placed behind older stock. Take this a step further and label each group of shipments with a visible use by date.
2. Wrap and store in airtight containers. Once food comes into contact with air it starts to spoil. Air tight containers increase shelf life, which in turn help to maintain food quality. Containers also limit exposure to other possible contaminants.
3. Place meat on the bottom shelf. Even if you follow tip #2 and meat is in a separate sealed container, placing on the bottom shelf is an additional safeguard against meat dripping on other food.
4. Control temperature. Temperature set points should be properly maintained. A temperature of 40°F or below minimizes bacterial growth. Workers should check temperatures daily to ensure that refrigeration equipment is working properly. Even better—install a cloud based management system to collect and store real time and historical data; it may even detect faults and alert users before a problem becomes a catastrophe.
5. Do not over stock. Overstocking means that refrigeration equipment has to work harder to reach maintained set points. The cold air might not be able to reach all products if the cooler is too full. Overstocking might also block vents. Keep the cooler system cleaned and maintained to prevent failure.
Food spoilage is avoidable. The steps above are just a few of the ways to prevent waste with commercial refrigeration.