This week focuses on proper methods for storing food. Here are nine rules to follow at your restaurant or foodservice operation:
- Identify use-by or expiration dates. Make sure you and your staff members are aware of when food items should be used and are no longer safe to serve.
- Rotate your food items. Make sure those with the earliest use-by or expiration dates are used before those with later dates. Consider the FIFO approach: First in, first out.
- Discard expired food. Throw out anything that has passed its manufacturers’ use-by or expiration date.
- Keep at least one thermometer in every cooler. Make sure you put it in the warmest part of the unit.
- Monitor your food temperatures regularly. Randomly sample the temperature of stored food to verify the cooler is working.
- Don’t overfill coolers and freezers. Storing too many food items prevents good airflow and makes the unit work harder to stay cold.
- Store frozen food properly. Hold it at a temperature that will keep it frozen.
- Use open shelving when storing food. Lining the shelves with aluminum foil, sheet pans or paper restricts air flow.
- Correctly store foods that need time and temperature control. Cold food should be stored at an internal temperature of 41°F (5°C) or lower, while hot food should be stored at 135°F(57°C) or higher.
Throughout September, the National Restaurant Association is using National Food Safety Month to help educate operators and their employees about proper food-safety techniques. For more information on food-safety practices and certification for restaurant and foodservice professionals, visit the NRA’s ServSafe website.