The Importance of Food Safety Refrigeration for National Nutrition Month
There have been numerous stories in the news lately of food borne illnesses spreading in restaurants all over the country due to improper health and safety processes that restaurants have in place. While food prep is an important procedure to prevent food borne illness from spreading, the efficiency and effectiveness of your refrigeration system can create illness in your customers. March is National Nutrition Month and Todco Mechanical is taking the time to give some food safety refrigeration tips to help avoid restaurants from becoming the next food borne illness headline.
Tip #1: Avoid Food Stuffing
Restaurants often want to use up all their refrigeration real estate with food items, but this can be a good way to spread bacteria and therefore food borne illness. When your refrigerator is stuffed with food, cold air cannot circulate around the items. This causes the food items to be warmer than they are supposed to be and allows them to spoil faster without your knowledge. Giving your food items some breathing room is a great food safety refrigeration tactic.
Tip #2: When the Worst Happens, Act Quickly
The worst thing that can happen to spread bacteria in a refrigeration unit without your control is the unit going out. No doubt this always happens on the weekend or on one of your busiest nights. Unfortunately, Todco often arrives on the scene of an emergency repair only to find that the restaurant staff has opened and closed the refrigerator door a dozen times to see if it was working yet. This is one of the ways illness spreads due to the warming of food.
If the worst happens and your refrigeration unit goes out, you want to train your staff on the emergency steps to take. Once you know the commercial refrigerator is no longer working, do not open the door. Call for commercial refrigeration repair and let the technicians take it from there.
Tip #3: Be Mindful of Danger Items for Food Safety Refrigeration
Certain foods have a higher potential for spreading food borne illness than others. There was even an entire day about this in March named Poultry Day to spread awareness about proper chicken handling. Many people know the food safety rules for handling chicken safely, but there are some food safety refrigeration rules for poultry as well. This includes:
- Separate raw poultry from other items in a commercial refrigeration unit.
- Poultry should be stored at 40 degrees or below to prevent bacteria build up.
- Frozen poultry should only be thawed in cold water or in the refrigerator.
- Poultry can only be marinated for up to two days without danger of bacteria developing.
Tip #4: Remember Food Storage Rules
When performing inventory and completing ordering, it is not only important to look at projected demand for each food item and dish, but also how long each of those items can last in a refrigerator. Remember your food safety refrigeration basics about how long to store certain food items. For example:
- Hamburger and other ground meats can be stored one to two days in a refrigerator or three to four months in a freezer.
- Fresh beef, veal, lamb, and pork can be stores three to five days in a refrigerator.
- In a freezer, steaks can be stored six to 12 months. Chops can be stored four to six months. Roasts can be stored four to 12 months.