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
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.