Restaurateurs need to ensure that food safety is top of their agenda when they open their business. Their commercial kitchen, and all areas of the building where food is stored and prepared, should be spotlessly clean and set up to maintain all health and safety standards, and abide by all the laws of food hygiene and storage.

Food storage is an essential part of food safety, and it is the responsibility of the owners and management to ensure that all kitchen staff are fully trained and well versed in all areas of food storage, including:

  • Where to store different types of food, including dairy, meat, fish and vegetables
    • What temperatures each item of food need to be kept at in the fridges and freezers of the kitchen
    • How to keep the food storage areas clean and free from bacteria and other biological hazards
    • What all the kitchen signage means – including temperatures, warnings and information on appropriate hygiene and safety procedures

In order to ensure that your kitchen staff – and all restaurant staff – appreciate and understand the importance of effective food storage, you need to instill the following steps into their training so that you can rest assured that they know the guidelines to follow:

Stock Rotation

To ensure that your food stock is of the highest quality, you and your staff need to follow the FIFO rule: First in, first out. Stock rotation is a restaurant’s first protection against potentially spoiled food being served to guests by making sure that new food is placed behind older food when it is delivered. This will also help to prevent food wastage by ensuring nothing goes out of date.

Food Labeling

Every item of food that is delivered to your restaurant should be labeled with a ‘use by’ date then stored in its appropriate place. By labeling your food, you are communicating to everyone in your kitchen what foods need to be used first, and that you are following the correct food safety procedures for quality and freshness.

Keep food in airtight containers

Food should be kept in airtight containers because food starts to spoil from the moment that air gets into contact with it. You will increase the shelf life of your food dramatically if you use containers for all types of food, not to mention the food hygiene and safety benefits of not allowing food to come into contact with bacteria and contaminations.

Meat needs to be stored low

When storing meat, you need to ensure that it is kept at the bottom of the fridges so that you safeguard against any contamination from meat juices dripping onto other food items. Even airtight containers with meat inside needs to be protected against cross-contamination so make sure you keep these stored as low as you can.

Temperature control

All of your kitchen staff should be made aware of all the legalities when it comes to storing food at the correct temperature. Refrigerator temperatures should be at or below 40° F (4° C), and your freezer temperature should be 0° F (-18° C). This should be communicated to your employees via notices and all equipment should be checked regularly (the equipment should have thermometers inside) to ensure that these temperatures are being met.

Don’t overload your storage spaces

Freezers and fridges can only work to the best of their abilities if you don’t overstock them with goods. A crowded fridge or freezer can cease to work properly if there are too many goods inside resulting in food that could drop in temperature and fall into the danger zone. If you serve your customers food that is not being stored at the correct temp, you could find yourself in trouble if they suffer a bout of food poisoning as a result. If you are following the right storage procedures and getting rid of any out of date food, your kitchen storage should be fine.

Cleanliness in all areas

It goes without saying that all equipment, shelves and storage units need to be cleaned thoroughly every day, to safeguard against all contamination and the build-up of bacteria. Kitchens can get pretty dirty, but that is all the more reason for having tough standards of cleanliness to protect your stored goods against any issues that could potentially harm your guests. This also includes keeping all food items at least 6-12 inches off the floor to prevent any contamination from water, dust and dirt. [/fullwidth]