Food Storage Area Tips in Your Restaurant

Posted on August 29, 2023

Proper food safety practices are a must-know for anyone working in the food and beverage industry. Knowing the best practices for cooking, prepping, and food storage safety keeps your diners from contracting food-borne illnesses and prevents your business from violating health and safety codes. 

After a busy lunch or dinner rush, you may have to deal with ingredients that can still be used. Knowing proper food storage safety ensures that these ingredients are properly stored and can be used in the next service. Before throwing out any leftover food, here are some food storing tips for cost-effective inventory management while keeping your diners’ health and safety in mind. 

Best Practices for Food Storage Safety

Whether you’re a seasoned professional in the kitchen or just starting out, these are some valuable tips you should know.

1. Use the FIFO Method

A practice that most, if not all, restaurants practice with their stock is First In, First Out (FIFO). This means that older stock should be used first while newer ones are placed behind and used later. This ensures that old stock is used first and won’t be stored past its expiration date. FIFO is used for fresh produce, dry goods, and all items in the pantry. 

2. Label Your Food

Ensure that any prepared food in the refrigerator or freezer is adequately labeled. Indicate details such as what’s in the container, the date it was made, and, if applicable, its expiry date. This is to help you and other kitchen staff identify food and determine if something has gone beyond its freshness or may be expired. 

3. Prevent Cross Contamination

Cross-contamination can lead to food poisoning, allergies, and potentially ruining food quality. There are several ways to prevent cross-contamination while dealing with food storage:

  • Use Separate Cutting Boards: Your kitchen should have designated areas and kitchen tools for raw meat, fish, cooked food, pastries, and other dishes. If your restaurant uses colored cutting boards, use these guidelines as a standard:
      • Red: Raw meat 
      • Blue: Raw seafood
      • Yellow: Raw poultry
      • Green: Salad and fruits 
      • Brown: Cooked meat
      • White: Bakery and dairy products
  • Place Meat on Lower Shelves: Unless you have a designated refrigerator for meat and poultry, your meat should always be stored on the lowest shelves. This is to reduce the risk of meat juices leaking and dripping down to other food items on the lower shelf. When placing meat on the shelves, avoid flat trays with no way to keep liquids from spilling.
  • Wash Your Hands: Anyone handling food knows that hand-washing is the first step to proper food handling. Wash your hands thoroughly with soap and water before handling food, even if you are wearing gloves while working. 

4. Dark and Dry Storage

Both dry goods and cold products are best kept in dark and dry conditions. Ensure your storage spaces have less than 15% humidity and are kept away from direct sunlight to prevent food degradation and altering the composition of your inventory. Additionally, using the following practices can optimize how you keep your food away from light and moisture:

  • Install a calibrated hygrometer in the kitchen and pantry to determine humidity levels. 
  • Use moisture-proof packaging and air-tight containers. 
  • Place food at least six inches above the floor and walls and one foot from the ceiling, as these surfaces can capture moisture. 

5. Inspect Food During Delivery

Before storing away newly received ingredients, double-check them for signs of packaging damage and spoilage. Since most kitchens practice FIFO, it may take a while for your new deliveries to be used. This means that compromised packaging and food showing signs of degradation could be spoiled or unsuitable for consumption by the time you get to use it. Additionally, check frozen food temperatures in case your deliveries thawed on the way. 

6. Avoid Refreezing Meat

Most professional and home kitchens avoid refreezing meat, poultry, and other frozen products. While it can be safe to refreeze meat if it was thawed in the refrigerator and wasn’t left out or reached a specific temperature, refreezing can cause changes to the color, odor, moisture, and flavor. Avoid refreezing if your meat has undergone water or microwave thawing. 

7. No Food on the Floor

It should go without saying that your floors are a hotbed of bacteria, dirt, and other organic matter that can contaminate your food. However, even if your food is in sealed containers or placed in boxes, you should avoid placing them on the floor to reduce the risk of bacterial contamination. Instead, palace your food in raised platforms, shelves, and other storage areas at least six inches off the floor. 

Maintain Clean Kitchen Facilities with JAN-PRO Commercial Cleaning

Restaurants and other food-service establishments must practice stringent food storage practices to comply with local food health and safety regulations and keep their customers safe. On top of proper food handling and cooking practices, this can be done with regular cleaning services that reduce the risk of contamination and the spread of harmful germs. 

With JAN-PRO Commercial Cleaning, food service establishments in the Greater Bay Area can ensure clean spaces for both the front and back of the house. Improve your operations with reliable cleaning solutions, and contact JAN-PRO Commercial Cleaning for more information.