Tips for Safe Food Storage in a Restaurant

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Storing your food safely in your commercial kitchen is very important; not only might you cause a customer to get sick if your food becomes contaminated from unsafe storage, but you might also face fines and even a shutdown if it's discovered that you're not storing food as you should. Putting things in the refrigerator may not be a sufficient suggestion for you, as you need to know how to cover and store food so that it's safe and also doesn't change in flavor or texture due to its storage. Note a few tips for how to store some common items in a restaurant.

Store meat on lower shelves

Even if meat is covered, always store it on lower shelves in a refrigerator and never stack different types of meat on top of one another. This will reduce the risk of meat juices dripping on other foods as it thaws or becomes warmer. Once meat juices drip onto other foods, those foods are considered contaminated even if you cook them. Invest in additional solid racks for your refrigerator if you need more room on those bottom shelves for your meat.

Don't overload the refrigerator

The refrigerator will only stay cool if air can circulate. If you cannot see the back of the refrigerator from any one rack or shelf, it's overloaded. Invest in a second or larger refrigerator if necessary.

Wrap food, even if stored in plastic

Plastic bins and totes can keep out damaging air and moisture, but note that the bins and totes themselves are holding air. If you don't wrap items like vegetables and leafy greens before you put them in plastic totes, they're likely to still wilt or turn brown. Use plastic zipper bags from which you squeeze out all the air or wrap these things tightly in plastic wrap or brown paper bags before putting them in the bins.

Store cut vegetables in water

Water is another way to ensure that foods like pre-cut potatoes, beans, and the like won't turn brown or go bad. You can usually submerge these foods in water in a plastic bin, cover them, and store them overnight without having them get soft or go bad. For potatoes, you might also add some acid to the water to help preserve them; this might be a few drops of vinegar or just a few pinches of salt. They typically won't absorb this flavor if just stored this way overnight, but this will help keep them from turning brown. Keep these tips in mind if you frequently purchase wholesale pre-cut potatoes.