How to Store Your Refrigerated Goods
5th February 2016
The importance and advantages of keeping food fresh and refrigerated
are well known to every business within the food and drinks industry. Certain foods need to be kept cool to prevent the germs that can cause food poisoning from growing on them, and food that is past its best cannot be sold, and is therefore a loss of profit to the business. But even refrigerated food can go off, so just how long can you store certain items in your commercial refrigerator before they are no longer safe to eat?
This depends on a number of factors: the type of food, how long it was sat on the shelf before you bought it, the packaging, and the efficiency of your fridge or freezer (which is why it is important to have a good, well maintained commercial refrigeration unit).
Different food groups can be stored for different amounts of time, and some food groups should not be stored together. The legal requirement for chilled food requires that it be no more than 8°C, but the best practice guidelines suggest that it should be 5°C or lower, as that allows a margin of error below the legal standard (note that care should be taken to ensure that the given temperatures are correct for the food, and not the air surrounding it). The Food Standards agency provides the following demonstration of food placement, if separate fridges or bespoke cold-rooms and chillers are not available:
Ready to Eat Foods:
- Dairy Products (yoghurt, cream, butter, cream cakes)
- Cooked Meats
- Covered Leftovers
- Packaged Foods (coleslaw, jams, condiments, ready meals)
It is important to keep dairy products, including pasteurised milk, and other ready to eat foods refrigerated to prevent the spread of harmful bacteria that can cause food poisoning. For the same reason use-by dates should also be carefully watched, and any foods that have passed theirs should be thrown out. The average length of time that these products will last in a properly maintained fridge can be found here, but if in doubt, throw it out.
Raw Meat, Poultry and Fish
Meat, poultry and fish is often the easiest thing to become contaminated, especially if not prepared and cooked properly. Storing it separately in sealed containers on the bottom shelf ensures that it will not touch any other food products or drip onto them, preventing the spread of harmful bacteria. If you are thawing frozen meat, poultry or fish make sure it is placed in a covered container on the bottom shelf, and it is not in contact with anything else.
Fruit and Vegetables, including Salad Vegetables
Keep fruit and vegetables in sealed bags or containers in the salad drawers or in a separate area of your commercial refrigeration unit, ideally a bespoke cold-room or chiller designed for that purpose. Fresh produce can come into contact with harmful bacteria from any number of sources, from contaminated soil to exposure during transport (lessen the risk of this by using Transport Refrigeration), so it is vital that it is washed thoroughly before use, especially if it is to be served raw.
Commercial refrigeration is a vital part of any food related business, and so it is important to have the right cold room or chiller for your needs. With over 35 years of experience, R.S Refrigeration has the experience and know-how to make sure you get the right product for your requirements, and are experts in creating bespoke refrigeration units, cold-rooms and chillers at competitive prices.
More information on food storage can be found from the Food Standards Agency website.