10 Top Tips for Food Storage in Restaurants

Food Compliance

By Food Focus on 13 November 2015

Proper food storage in restaurants is not just a matter of convenience; it is a critical aspect of ensuring food safety and the well-being of your customers. The way you manage, and store food can make a significant difference in preventing foodborne illnesses and maintaining the quality of your ingredients.

Here are ten top tips for best practices in food storage:

1. FIFO (First In, First Out)

Implement a strict first in, first out policy in your kitchen. This means that the oldest food items should be used or sold first to prevent any product from exceeding its shelf life. Label products with their purchase or production date to make it easier to follow this practice.

2. Temperature Control

Maintaining the proper temperature for different types of food is essential. Keep your refrigerator at 40°F (4°C) or lower to slow the growth of harmful bacteria. Freezers should be set at 0°F (-18°C) or lower to keep items frozen solid. Monitor temperatures regularly and invest in temperature alarms to ensure safety.

3. Label Everything

Proper labelling is crucial. Clearly mark containers with the name of the product, date of preparation, and use-by date. This helps you keep track of food items, ensuring that older items are used first. When in doubt, throw it out.

4. Use Airtight Containers

Whenever possible, use airtight containers to store food. Airtight containers not only preserve the quality of the food but also prevent cross-contamination with other products. Additionally, they help keep foods from drying out.

5. Separate Raw and Cooked Foods

To prevent cross-contamination, always store raw meats separately from cooked foods. Use color-coded cutting boards and containers to ensure clear differentiation.

6. Elevate Storage

Keep food at least six inches above the ground and one foot below the ceiling to prevent contamination and pest infestations. Proper shelving and organization are key.

7. Store Based on Cooking Temperature

Organize your storage based on the cooking temperatures of different food items. High-risk items, like raw poultry, should be stored on the lowest shelves, while fully cooked and ready-to-eat foods should be placed higher to prevent any contamination.

8. Regularly Check Expiry Dates

Consistently check the expiration dates of your food items. Replace older products with newer ones to minimize waste and ensure that you are serving only fresh ingredients.

FEFO stands for "First Expired, First Out."

In a food restaurant, this method is used to manage inventory and ensure that the items with the closest expiration dates are used or sold first. This approach involves organizing and using products based on their expiration dates, prioritizing those with the earliest expiry to minimize waste and maintain product freshness. It's a fundamental practice in food safety and inventory control, helping to reduce the risk of serving expired food to customers and minimizing financial losses due to expired inventory.

9. Keep Dry and Dark

Create storage conditions that are dark and dry. Sunlight can lead to temperature variations and degrade food quality, especially for items with fat-soluble vitamins. Maintain humidity levels below 15% to prevent moisture-related issues and use moisture-proof packaging when needed.

10. Hygiene Practices

Promote proper hygiene practices among your staff. This includes thorough handwashing with warm water and soap when handling food. Avoid using the same cutting boards for raw meats and ready-to-eat foods to prevent cross-contamination.

By following these best practices for food storage in your restaurant, you can ensure food safety, minimize waste, and maintain the quality of your ingredients. Prioritizing proper food storage is not only essential for complying with regulations but also for building trust with your customers and protecting your reputation.

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