When you think about how to store manufacturing materials, you may understandably envision piles of nuts, bolts, sheet metal and other parts that are used by a construction or machinery company to make equipment and other products. While this is an accurate way to describe the situation, there is another type of business that uses materials to manufacture products every single day: the restaurant industry. Only in this case, it’s things like meat, cream and vegetables.
With food costs rising seemingly by the day, it is more imperative than ever for restaurant owners to be sure their form of precious manufacturing materials are stored correctly and safely. Here are a few tips to keep in mind when storing food.
Think Dark & Dry
To help maximize how long you can store perishable food, it must be kept as dark and dry as possible. As EControSystems notes, whether you are storing flour, sugar and other dry goods in a walk-in pantry, or eggs in the fridge and home-made ice cream in the freezer, it must be kept out of direct light. In addition, food storage must be dry with a humidity level of 15 percent or less, and using moisture-proof containers will help with this process, as can keeping food storage rooms air conditioned.
Know the Correct Temperatures
Temperatures in restaurant food storage units will range from 0 degrees to 140 degrees Fahrenheit. Ideally, freezers must be at 0 degrees and the refrigerators should be kept between 32 and 40 degrees to prevent bacteria from taking over. Dry storage areas should be between 50 and 70 degrees, and when foods are prepared and kept hot, they should be at least 140 degrees.
If you notice your fridge and/or freezer are struggling to stay cold, it may be an issue with the seal on the door and/or one or more of the o-rings in the refrigeration unit. To prevent cold air from leaking out, it is imperative that the seals and o-rings are in excellent condition and that the correct types are used for the equipment. For instance, fluorocarbon o-rings are the gold standard when it comes to a universal o-ring material and help create excellent vacuum seals.
Cold foods must not only be kept at a correct temperature and for a limited amount of time; they must also be placed in the refrigerator in a certain way to remain safe to eat. As ZIP HACCP notes, ready-to-eat foods that are cut or prepared and not cooked should be on the top shelves, with fruits and veggies that are waiting to be prepared or cut on the middle shelves. The bottom shelves should be reserved for raw meat, poultry and fish, all of which should be wrapped in cellophane until they are ready to be prepared; this will help prevent cross contamination. Shellfish, because of its ability to cause severe allergic reactions, should be kept separately from all other food. As a side tip, eggs should be kept in their original cartons that contain their “best by” dates.
Reduce Waste, Increase Profits
All manufacturing materials, no matter what they are used to create, are valuable and must be stored properly. This is especially true for fresh foods, which are not only expensive but can also spoil much more easily than other products. By keeping ingredients correctly placed in dark and dry storage areas, at the proper temperatures amd making sure o-rings and gaskets are in great shape, you won’t end up figuratively throwing money in the garbage.