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Chefs' Quick Tips for Food Storage

Food storage is not something you should take lightly, especially when it comes to a commercial kitchen. You’re dealing with more food, greater variety, and a busy area that requires organisation and particular attention to health and safety standards. If you want to ensure you avoid customers getting serious tummy aches, food waste through inefficient processes, and even potential litigation, follow these guidelines when storing food.

Watch Those Dates

In catering, the so-called ‘First In, First Out’ rule is one of the most important that you and your staff should be aware of. The premise is simple: older food should be used and consumed before the new batches. It’s not rocket science, but it’s also something that many restaurateurs get wrong.

Success is all in the way you organise the ‘production line’. Newer food should always be placed towards the back of the fridge. Label each item according to when it was placed in the fridge and the suggested use-by date (this is particularly useful when breaking open multi-packs). Do a complete clear out every couple of weeks, just to make sure there’s nothing nasty left in the back of the fridge!

Store Meat Low

There are two reasons why meat should be stored at the bottom of your fridge. First of all, it’s where the temperature is at its lowest (remember, heat rises!). But there’s a second reason that’s arguably more important. Keeping meats in the lower tiers of your fridge means that juices won’t drip down and contaminate the rest of your fridge’s contents.

Keep Air Away

The chef’s battle with air is a constant one; the minute food comes into contact with air it will start to spoil. That’s why we recommend that you invest in quality airtight containers that are easy to use and reliable. Don’t keep food open for longer than it has to be and remember to double check that lids are tightly closed before putting containers away.

Containers for Purpose

Don’t store all food in a single type of container. Getting your hands on a variety of receptacles is the best way to go: food pans, storage boxes, and ingredient bins will all help keep things organised and free from undesirable elements.

You should also clearly label which items have been used for raw and cooked products – you should always keep these separated and try and use the same ones for each type of food.

Control Temperature Carefully

When it comes to storing food in a commercial setting, temperature is extremely important. Restaurant fridges are usually much larger than your domestic variety, so you want a unit that keeps a constant temperature from top to bottom. It should also have an accurate thermometer installed so you can easily check whether it’s exactly where you want it.

Don’t Store Food on the Floor

We’re always surprised when we hear of establishments that store food on the floor. It’s extremely dangerous and can lead to contamination. Water, dust, cleaning products, and a wide range of other contaminants all pose a serious health risk – keep food at least six inches from the floor. Food storage racks are particularly useful in this scenario.

Remember, food storage is a critical aspect to the success of your establishment. It helps keep your restaurant running smoothly, ensures your food is safe to eat, keeps it tasting fresh, and removes the risk of something potentially damaging like food poisoning! Keep the above tips in mind when setting up your kitchen, however, and you'll be fine.

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