Food Safety Rules Everyone Should Know

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If you own a restaurant or you are in the catering industry, then this is definitely a must read. We are no experts in the food business but we definitely know some of the basic safety precautions when dealing with refrigerated foods. Here are a few safety tips to follow:

1.    Monitor refrigerator temperature

First and foremost, make sure the fridge is in good working order. Refrigerators should always be set to maintain 5°. Use an appliance thermometer to monitor the fridge temperature and be sure to keep records of these temperatures. Appliance thermometers are specifically designed to work in cold temperatures. Monitoring will allow you to adjust the thermostat whenever necessary. If you are not sure how long the temperature has been out for, throw the food away.  Storing food at the correct temperature reduces bacteria growth that causes food borne disease. The food temperature for ready to eat food should be 5° Frozen at -12° and cream based ice cream -18°. Some fridges use digital controllers but you cannot rely on it as it is not calibrated annually according to the food safety laws of South Africa so it is best to take temperatures both in the morning and in the afternoon for the refrigerators.

2.Store food correctly

Ready to eat food should be stored on top, thawing products should be stored on the bottom shelf. Red meat and fish should be thawed and stored in separate containers. Raw stock should always be on the bottom shelf to avoid cross contamination when the meat thaws onto other food items in the refrigerator. Thaw in separate containers. Segregate food, like we mentioned earlier, you cannot store ready to eat food next to thawing meat.  As a general rule, avoid refreezing thawed food. Food that is frozen a second time is likely to have higher levels of food-poisoning bacteria.

3. First in first out (FIFO)

When dealing with food, it is very important to practice the rule of FIFO.  It’s the idea that the food that comes in the fridge first, should be the first to be consumed.  Record the date on the stock in the fridge so it is easier for trace-ability, any product you remove from its original container needs to be dated so that you know the decanting date. and to monitor shelf life. When you are not sure of the expiry date, throw it away. Label the shelves and containers so that anyone can easily see what to use first

4. Storage

Do not put boxes in the fridge to avoid pest infestation. If food comes in boxes, repackage it into other plastic airtight containers.  Food stored in the refrigerator should be in closed containers, or sealed storage bags at all time to avoid cross contamination where bacteria from one food spread to another.

 

5. Clean and sanitize everyday

Lastly, what is food safety without a clean fridge. Cleaning the refrigerator is one of the most important factors to consider when dealing with food in the refrigerator as food poisoning bacteria easily multiplies in a dirty fridge. Always address spills immediately and clean regularly with a mixture of warm water and vinegar.

How to make your refrigerator last longer

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1.CHECK THE PLACEMENT

Imagine you are trapped in a box where you can hardly breathe, your lungs have to work twice as hard. The same thing happens with your fridge, if it is placed in a confined space with no air circulation the compressor has to work twice as hard, which in turn shortens its lifespan. We often fail to consider placement as an important fact when we buy our fridges. Yes, it looks nicer right against the wall but will it last? We also tend to ignore that like any other machine, our fridges need servicing every now and again.

FIX

Do not place your fridge near the oven, direct sunlight or any heat vents. Keep a distance of 50mm between your walls and fridge.

2.KEEP YOUR COILS CLEAN

Coils are usually at the back of domestic refrigerators and at the bottom of commercial refrigerators. They are an important part of the cooling process. Not only do dirty coils make your compressor and motor work harder, it shortens the life of your refrigerator.

FIX

Vacuum the coils with the upholstery brush on your vacuum cleaner as needed. If you have pets or live in a very dusty environment, vacuum the back monthly.

3.CLEAR THE TOP

Cereal boxes, a crate of eggs or even a decorative plant that goes so well with our kitchen theme, all those need to move from on top of the fridge. By covering the top of your refrigerator, heat cannot properly dissipate and the motor overworks to cool the fridge

FIX

Keep the top of your fridge clear and also dust it every now and again.

4.MAKE SURE YOUR GASKET IS SEALING CORRECTLY

A refrigerator gasket is designed to form an air-tight seal that serves as a barrier between the cool air inside the appliance and the warmer external environment. There can be so many reasons why the gasket does not seal properly.

A gasket that doesn’t seal properly allows cold air to escape and moisture to enter which makes the motor work hard to keep your items cool. You also want your gasket to seal properly to avoid any ice buildup in the refrigerator. The ice also makes your refrigerator motor work twice as hard and prevents it from getting cold.

FIX

Replace gasket if torn or damaged, clean your gasket often to keep it free from dirt, food, grime etc.

5.KEEP THE FRIDGE FULL

Living in a house full of kids this might be very difficult; the fridge gets empty faster than it gets full, not forgetting how the economy is making it tougher and tougher to keep the refrigerator full. Here is the thing about fridges; there is some kind of balance you need to maintain inside, if it has less items then it means the fridge has to work harder to cool the empty space and maintain a constant temperature. Remember, an over-filled fridge will not work effectively either, so keep it full but not over-full

FIX

Use bottles of water to fill empty spaces

Allow air to circulate by leaving a gap between items in the fridge

When freezing, allow room for expansion.

6. DEFROST WHEN NECESSARY

As I mentioned earlier, ice builds up sometimes because of items not being stored properly or the door not sealing. The ice can cause the motor to work hard which shortens the life of the fridge.

FIX

Avoid ice by cooling things before you put them in the fridge, never store uncovered food and check your gasket for damage.

7. USE A SURGE PROTECTOR

Load shedding has been one of the country’s biggest problems for the past couple of months. Electricity keeps going off that is why it is advisable to buy a surge protector to protect your fridge from surges when the power comes back on.

FIX

Connect the fridge through a surge protector that has an indicator light to show it is working.

8. NIP IT IN THE BUD

Last but not least, the minute you hear an unusual sound or notice anything unusual about the cooling rate, get it checked, the sooner the better so that your problem can be sorted before it becomes irreparable.