According to the latest research over 40% of the U.S food supply is never consumed. (Food Safety News)
One of the reasons for this is restaurants simply not being sure of how to store food, what can be refrigerated and the best use of their food.
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Below are a few tips for you and your staff when it comes to food storage:
- Remember FIFO - The golden rule!
Let’s talk about stock rotation, we know you want to!
When using food that you have in stock it’s important to use stock with the shortest shelf life first. When storing or displaying food always put the stock with the shortest shelf life at the front – that way it will be used first.
2. What needs to be refrigerated and at what temperature?
High risk TCS Foods such as Milk, Eggs, Shellfish, Fish and Meats MUST be refrigerated – they are the main priority! (FDA regulations).
It’s important to understand that keeping raw and TCS foods at 41°F or below will prevent or slow down pathogenic bacterial multiplication. Remember, the trick is to ensure that you keep food out of the Temperature Danger Zone.
Aside from High risk food, here is what else needs to be refrigerated at 41°F
- Cooked meats, such as salami or ham
- Pies and pates
- Coleslaw, cottage cheese, and sandwich fillings
- Vacuum packed raw meat, poultry, and fish
- Anything labeled for refrigeration such as bottled sauces without preservatives.
- The contents of opened cans once they have been transferred to suitable containers - never put an opened metal tin in the cooler! The metal will rust quickly and cause chemical contamination
- Prepared salads
- Some vegetables and fruit can be refrigerated if desired, but ensure they are separated from other foods.3. Stacking food in coolers – Best practice suggestions
Understanding how to stack a cooler correctly can reduce risks of cross contamination, keep food fresher for longer and ultimately save you time and money as you will be able to get longer use out of your food inventory.
Below are a few best practice suggestions:
- Always store raw meat and poultry on shelves below other food so that blood or juices cannot drip onto other foods and cross-contaminate them
- Allow enough room around food for air to circulate. This way the cooler will be able to operate more efficiently and maintain its target temperature
- Do not leave cooler doors open any longer than necessary as the temperature inside the cooler will rise
- Unless you have a separate cooler, do not put hot food in a cooler as this will raise the temperature inside and may cause condensation which can cause cross-contamination by dripping onto other food
4. Labelling food correctly – Best practice suggestions
Labelling food is important so you and your staff know when food needs to be used by. Below is a breakdown of how you should label different types of food:
- Highly perishable packaged food such as cooked meat, fish and dairy products, should be marked with a Use By date.
- All ready-to-eat food that is prepared in-house must have a label that includes the name of the food and a Use By or expiration date.
- Less perishable items such as dried fruit, flour, chips, cereals and canned food should have a Best Before