Blog posts of '2018' 'December'

4 Food Storage & Safety Procedures Every Food Handler Should Know

According to the latest research about food waste, over 40% of the U.S food supply is never consumed.

The most common reasons for this food waste is that restaurants are not sure how to store food, what food can be refrigerated, and the best use of their food.

Proper food storage involves having procedures to ensure that all of the food gets used up before it expires as well as storing it at the right temperature and location. Knowledge of proper food storage is not only important for restaurants to ensure the health of diners, but it’s also critical for food handler certification and employment.

Below are a few tips for every food handler or restaurant manager should know when it comes to food storage and safety.

1. Follow Stock Rotation Rules

Let’s talk about stock rotation. Stock rotation is the practice of moving products with earlier expiration dates forward to prevent food spoilage. Following stock rotation rules ensures that food doesn’t have to be thrown out because it wasn’t used before it expired. When following stock rotation rules, remember the acronym FIFO—first-in, first-out!

Use the shortest shelf life items first.

When using food that you have in stock for cooking or meal preparation, it’s important to use those items with the shortest shelf life first. That way, older ingredients won’t expire and go to waste.

Place items with the shortest shelf lives up front

When storing or displaying food, always put the stock with the shortest shelf life at the front. You will be able to see it more easily, and it will be cooked with first.

2. Use Recommended Refrigeration Temperatures

Keeping your refrigerator at the recommended temperature is crucial in preserving food and preventing pathogenic bacteria from multiplying. Here are some helpful safety tips to keep in mind when refrigerating food.

Take special care of high-risk foods

High risk time and temperature control (TCS) foods, such as milk, eggs, shellfish, fish and meats, must be refrigerated – they are the main priority.

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. Anything over 41°F bacteria to multiply at a rapid speed.

Aside from high risk TCS foods, here is a list of perishable items that should 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
  •          Prepared salads

Make sure that these foods are not left out for more than 2 hours. Bacteria could multiply to dangerous levels and cause foodborne illnesses.

Transfer and cover the contents of open cans

The contents of opened cans should be refrigerated once they have been transferred to suitable storage containers. Never put an opened metal tin of food in the cooler. The metal will rust quickly and cause chemical contamination.

Refrigerate vegetables and fruits

Some vegetables and fruits can be refrigerated if desired, but make sure that they are separated from other foods. Mixing produce with other food stock can result in … (contamination?)


3. Store Food in Coolers Correctly

Understanding how to stack food in 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 practices for safe food storage in coolers.

Store raw meat and poultry separately

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 space for air circulation

Don’t overcrowd your cooler (the same goes for your refrigerator). Allow enough room around the food for air to circulate. This way, the cooler will be able to operate efficiently and maintain its target temperature.

Keep the cooler door shut

Do not leave cooler doors open any longer than necessary. Otherwise, the temperature inside the cooler will rise, putting food at risk for rapid bacteria growth.

Do not put hot food in the cooler

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 moisture onto other food.


4. Label Food Accurately and In Detail

Labelling food items before storing them lets a food handler know when the 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 date.


Tips on When to Throw Out Food

Following these food safety procedures will ensure that less food gets thrown out, but some food will inevitably go bad and need to be thrown out. Here are some

  •          The FDA says that prepared food and leftovers must be thrown out after 7 days maximum.
  •          If a TCS food is left out of the refrigerator for over 2 hours, you must throw it out.
  •          If the food is past the use by date, it is time to discard.


To learn more about proper food storage techniques, as well as other food safety tips, enroll in our food handler course.


You can also watch this quick video more more details.

Barbecue Food Safety

What do Tom Cruise (Lt Pete “Maverick” Mitchell) and a hamburger have in common? They’re best when kept away from the danger zone……

Now, if you don’t understand the above terrible joke it means that you are either too young to have seen Top Gun (It’s on Netflix, definitely worth a watch) or you  need a little help in the Food Safety department. Either way if you work in the food industry and need your food handlers card, then you might just find the below article very useful With summer just around the corner people will be in the mood for BBQ food! Cooked well, Barbecue food is tasty and delicious but it’s important that you follow some simple rules to keep your customers safe.

What exactly is the food “temperature danger zone”?

Bacteria grows most rapidly in the range of temperatures between 40 °F and 140 °F (the danger zone), doubling in number in as little as 20 minutes.

When pathogens grow at these temperatures they are harmful and can make your customers very ill.

Below are a few tips for you and your staff.

Points to remember – Best Practice!

  • Store cold food at 41°F or lower
  • Prepare the food ideally within 30 minutes (if not put it back in the cooler)
  • You shouldn’t be making huge batches of food – cook little and often and don’t get things out too far in advance.
  • Cook the food to at least 135°F (to the center or thickest part)
  • Serve the food within 20 minutes (or hot hold at above 135°F)

Need more Information on being always food safe?

Our Food Handler Courses take just 2 hours to complete with online video learning that features real people in real kitchens. Understanding the food temperature danger zone is one of many important areas that staff will learn on their Food Handlers Course with The Always Food Safe Company.

Seafood Safety – Key Things to Remember

Seafood is becoming ever more popular among restaurant goers, however, from a food safety viewpoint it can be one type of food that without proper food hygiene training can put customers at risk.

Over the past few weeks there have been public health officials warning of increasing dangers from foodborne bacteria in raw and undercooked shellfish as summer approaches.

A worker from the State Food Health Department in Florida is reiterating the importance of cooking and handling seafood properly,

“Each year, we see cases of food-borne illness resulting from eating raw or under-cooked seafood, particularly raw oysters. I cannot stress enough the importance of enjoying oysters and other seafood that are properly handled and cooked.”

How to reduce the risk - 3 easy steps!

With seafood being a high-risk food there are several things you can do to greatly reduce the chance of foodborne illness.

  1. Wash your hands, properly! – This may sound obvious, but you’ll be surprised at the amount of people who don’t know how to wash their hands properly. Below is the simple 6 step guide.

Step 1: Wet your hands with warm running water and apply soap

Step 2: Rub your hands together palm to palm to make a lather

Step 3: Rub the palm of one hand along the back of the other and along the fingers. Repeat with the other hand

Step 4: Put your palms together with fingers interlocked and rub in between each of the fingers thoroughly.

Step 5: Rub around your thumbs on each hand and then rub the fingertips of each hand against your palms.

Step 6: Rinse off the soap with clean water and dry your hands thoroughly on a disposable towel. Turn off the tap with the towel and then throw the towel away.

     2. Food prep, things to remember - With food preparation there are a few simple steps to minimize cross contamination, which is a huge reason for many cases of foodborne illnesses. Below are just a few things to remember:

  • Sanitize your chopping boards after every use – Warm water and soap will not kill all bacteria on your chopping board after handling raw meat or seafood, so it’s important you clean all areas including chopping boards, work surface and knifes etc. properly with hot water and sanitizer.
  • Use different chopping boards for different food groups – To stop cross contamination we recommend using different chopping boards for different food types.
  • White - bakery and dairy products
  • Yellow - cooked meat
  • Brown - root vegetables
  • Red - raw meat
  • Blue - raw fish
  • Green - salad, fruit and fresh vegetables

    3.Eat shellfish promptly after cooking and refrigerate leftovers – Avoid the temperature danger zone! -

If you are unaware of the temperature danger zone, then you best watch our demo chapter on pathogenic bacteria. It’s important as someone who works in the food industry to understand how to heat and refrigerate food correctly.


Need help with your restaurant's food safety? Take a look at our Food Safety courses!