Food storage is not just a chore anymore, it is a fundamental step in ensuring your restaurant maintains the highest hygiene standards. Food storage and safe handling can prevent your customers from getting sick. Whether you are a veteran or need some advice, these tips can improve your restaurant’s operations and keep your diners safe.
First in - First out
When storing and stocking products you should use the First in - First out rule.
Basically this means that new products put in the depot are always at the bottom or back. If you need to use products for food preparation, they must be at the front. Simple, right? First in, First out.
Each product has a printed expiry date. When you open frozen or dried products, this date doesn’t change. Make sure that the date on the packaging is clear, that it can be seen, and that the product is stored in closed containers. Information must be clear and organised. Keep the product labelled with the expiration date, production, opening, freezing and thawing records. This makes communication easier between you and your colleagues and lowers the chance of mistakes.
Proper Food Storage
Here are some general guidelines for proper food storage.
- When storing goods, place new items behind same items already stored.
- When using foods from storage rotate items on the same basis First in - First out.Take goods from the front of the shelf
- .Never return open cans or bottles to storage.
- Foods must be stored at least 15 cm off the floor and 8 cm from the wall. This allows air to circulate and makes cleaning easier.
- Label all storage shelves in walk-in storage areas with appropriate shelf tags.
- Cover, label and date code unmarked food containers.
- Know and understand the shelf life and expiration dates of food items.
- Keep all storage areas clean.
- Lock all storage areas when not in use.
- Any lighting must be covered and replaced when it fails.
- Ensure all storage areas are protected against rodent and insect entry.
Easy Frozen Foods Tips
To keep your frozen foods at their best, here are some easy tips to follow.
- All freezers must operate in the temperature range of -18 ºC to –22 ºC.
- Open freezer doors only when necessary.
- Check thermometers for correct temperature readings daily and report malfunctions to the Manager.
- Freezers must be cleaned and defrosted in accordance with the Manufacturer’s instructions. Spillage and ice build-up indicate unsatisfactory routines.
- All foods in frozen storage must be covered or wrapped to prevent drying and discolouration.
- Do not refreeze foods when thawed.
- Maintain freezers in a clean tidy condition at all times. Door seals must be clean, in good condition and be well fitting.
Ensure Your Food Doesn’t Spoil.
Here are some considerations and recommendations to ensure your food doesn’t spoil.
- Refrigerators – except fresh fish and dairy fridges – must operate at temperatures of 5 ºC or below and preferably in the temperature range of 0 ºC to +3 ºC.
- Refrigerators for fresh fish should operate at –1 ºC -to +1 ºC.
- Dairy refrigerators should operate at 0 ºC to +5 ºC.
- Open refrigerator door only when necessary.
- All refrigerators must be provided with an external temperature dial or have an internal thermometer.
- Temperatures must be checked daily and any malfunction immediately reported.
- Spillages should be cleaned as they occur. Units must be stripped out, cleaned and sanitised at least twice per week.
- Place opened food in plastic or cleanable containers. Cover, label and date. Label and date any leftovers to ensure effective stock rotation.
- Wrap all poultry, fish and meats loosely and place on pan racks to catch drips. Cover all foods wherever possible.
- Where separate fridges are not available ensure all raw meats are stored away
- from and below cooked meats and prepared foods.
- Do not overload refrigerators. Allow adequate air circulation.
- Maintain refrigerators in a clean and tidy condition at all times. Door seals must be clean, in good condition and well fitting.
It's Important to Pay Attention
It is very important to pay attention to storage temperatures. Storing at the right temperature helps stop bacteria from multiplying. Here are storage temperature guidelines to follow
- Milk and milk products: 7 ºC or less for up to 5 days.
- Eggs and other products: 10 ºC or less, for up to 7 days.
- Beef, poultry, and other raw products handled, but not mixed skewers: 4 ºC or less, for up to 3 days.
- Mixed skewers, turtleneck steak, raw meat and preparations with ground beef: 4 ºC or less, for up to 2 days.
- Fish and their products handled raw: 2 ºC or less, for up to 3 days.
- Ready-to-eat bakery and confectionery products with toppings or fillings containing ingredients that require refrigeration: 5 ºC or less for up to 5 days.
- Cold cuts and sliced sausages, chopped or ground: 4 ºC or less, for up to 3 days.
- Food after cooking (but not fish): 4 ºC or less, for up to 3 days.
- Fish after cooking: 2 ºC or less, for up to 1 day.
- Desserts and other foods containing dairy : 4 ºC or less, for up to 3 days.
- Mayonnaise and mayonnaise mixtures with other food: 4 ºC or less for up to 2 days.
- Fruits and vegetables cleaned, opened, cut and peeled; juice, pulp, sugar cane juice: 5 ºC or less, for up to 2 days.
- Other prepared food: 4 ºC or less, for up to 3 days.
Even if we store perishable products at the right temperatures, following the rules with humidity and closing containers properly, the food can still be contaminated by bacteria and other microorganisms. So, to make sure of food safety, we must always monitor how these products are stored.
Cross-contamination is a big food safety hazard in the kitchen, it’s vital to ensure that all risks of infection are prevented.
- Keep toxic chemicals and cleaning products away from food! Never put hazardous substances above food.
- Do not store boxes on the floor, but on a raised platform or shelf. The floor is a source of bacteria.
- Make sure the storage space and products are clean and hygienic. You should be able to close the storage area to keep it dry and safe from pests.
- Store perishable food in refrigeration at 0 ºC to 5 ºC.