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10 Food Safety Storage Tips

10 Food Safety Storage Tips

Adopting a systematic approach to food safety in commercial kitchens and restaurants is essential for maintaining public safety. So here are 10 strategies designed to help chefs and restaurant and kitchen managers store food safely while ensuring it remains fresh and appetising.

1.       First In, First Out. As deliveries or prepared foods are stored, they need to be rotated so the dates with the closest use-by are readily seen by staff who then know which to use first.

2.       Refrigeration and Freezing. Cool rooms, freezers and refrigerators are machines that require maintenance. As per the manufacturer’s instructions, establish a process and schedule for checking they are functioning properly and maintaining temperatures. When chilling food, this should be below 5C and when freezing food below -18C.  Do not overcrowd your refrigerator or freezer. Air must circulate freely.

3.       Separate Different Foods. Store raw meats away from fresh fruit and vegetables. This will simplify the management of your kitchen and reduce the spread of bacteria from one to the other. Store prepared foods above raw foods in the fridge.

4.       Store Food in Airtight Containers. Airtight containers assist in reducing the spread of harmful bacteria in the fridge and at room temperature. Ensure containers are clean and sanitary before storing food in them.

5.       Maintain Seals. An airtight container is only as good as its seal. When washing, ensure seals are checked and discard any with cracks or excessive signs of wear. Bacteria will grow in the cracks and could easily spread to the contents of the container.

6.       Get Organised. Use high quality labels to clearly indicate –

a.       Use by dates,

b.       Best before dates,

c.       Contents,

d.       Preparation dates,

e.       Storage dates,

f.        Who prepared it,

g.       Ingredients contained within,

h.       The contents contain known allergens,

i.         The food is suitable for vegans, vegetarians, people with celiac disease and other conditions.

7.       Use the Right Label Adhesive. When choosing labels to indicate the above information, ensure the adhesive on those labels is suited to its application and is of a food safety standard. Specific label adhesives are manufactured to be either removable, permanent, dissolvable and durable. Ensure the correct one is applied to suit the storage requirements of the selected food.

8.       Be Extra Cautious with High Risk Foods. The temperature danger zone with food is between 5C and 60C. Bacteria readily grows in this range. Dairy products, meat, seafood, prepared casseroles, roasts, stews and soups are high risk foods and must not be stored within this range.

a.       Keep cool desserts, sliced meats, dairy products, sandwiches and salads below 5C.

b.       Keep roasts, stews, casseroles, curries and soups above 60C.

9.       Cover Food. This keeps dust, insects and airborne bacteria away from food and is a simple technique for practicing effective food safety.

10.   Maintain Safe Temperatures of Displayed Foods. Displayed food is at particular risk of falling within the temperature danger zone. Using a quality food thermometer, periodically conduct temperature checks to see that displayed food is above 60C or below 5C.

Maintaining food safety standards for stored foods is an essential element for maintaining public health. Following the suggestions above will help chefs and restaurant and kitchen managers to protect their patrons and clients. However, it’s always a good idea to live by the maxim – if in doubt, throw it out!

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