Tips for Keeping Your Food and Beverages from Spoiling
We all know how important it is that you take every step necessary to prevent the foods and beverages in your restaurant, both cooked and those that you keep in stock, from spoiling before being used. The ramifications of food spoilage are so great, think food poisoning, ruining your reputation, and monetary loss, that food safety and storage should be number one on your menu. While it may be inevitable that some things will spoil, there are many steps you can take to help prevent it.
Keep Food Out of Food Danger Zone
Rule number one: be aware of the temperature of the food danger zone which makes food unfit for consumption. Food-poisoning bacteria grows and multiplies fastest in the temperature danger zone between 40°–140°F, so it is important to keep high-risk foods out of this zone. Items such as raw and cooked meat, dairy products, deli, seafood, pasta, salads, and many other foods, are all prone to the growth of bacteria when left out for too long.
Some tips to follow are:
- Never keep food out of the refrigerator for over 2 hours, if the temperature is over 90°F, the time is reduced to 1 hour. Hot foods can be cooled by using a cooling paddle, which will bring the temperature down quickly so it can be safely stored in the fridge, avoiding the possibility of bacteria growth.
- Keep hot food hot, which is above 140°F. Store hot cooked foods in steam tables, chafing dishes, and other warming and holding equipment before serving.
- Keep cold food cold, which is at or below 40°F. Keep cold food stored in the refrigerator or place it on ice if it will be put out on the buffet table or in a salad bar.
- Note that beer and wine can also sour if they are not stored at the optimal temperatures. Beer should be kept at 50 to 55°F and wine, both red and white, at 55° F.
First In First Out Rule: FIFO
Rule number two concerns how you store items in your fridge, how you rotate them, and the order in which you use them. When you receive a delivery, after you check it for freshness, be sure to place the new stock behind the existing stock. Doing so helps to reduce waste as you won’t have goods stored past their expiration dates. When your staff reaches into the fridge, they will automatically use the stock at the front first, ensuring that the older products are used before the newer ones.
Don’t Be Fooled By Sales
It is easy to be tempted to buy products that you frequently use when they are on sale. However, in some cases you could actually be losing money. Keep in mind that items such as fresh foods, including produce and fruits, will go bad in a shorter amount of time. So try not to buy more than what you will use quickly - remember you can always use up extra food by offering daily specials - otherwise, you will have spoiled produce on hand, not to mention monetary loss.
Another tip to help avoid food spoilage is organization and labeling. Make sure that all foods in the freezer, fridge and dry storage are labeled appropriately. This includes opened and unopened foods. These labels should include the content and storage date. This allows you to easily use those items before the expiration dates.
Dry Food Storage Tips
Another important rule is storing dry goods properly in order to maximize their shelf life. When you are storing dry goods in a pantry, it is important that the items be stored in a dry, cool, dark area - out of direct sunlight. This will help control the temperature and prevent the food from spoiling. It is also advisable to store items in moisture-proof storage containers and utilize air conditioning whenever possible to maintain the ideal humidity levels.
Make sure to avoid opening and reopening containers, and check your dry goods frequently to make sure they are dry. Food that is exposed to air and moisture will lower the quality of the food. Also note that food needs to be protected from contaminants and vermin. So be sure to place your dry goods on rust-resistant, sturdy shelves that are placed at least 12 inches from the floor, away from walls, and one foot below the ceiling.
Food spoilage will cost you time, money, and your reputation, therefore it is best if you utilize any way that you can to prevent food spoilage in your restaurant.