You may look at your commercial refrigerator as the perfect place to store everything, assuming the cool environment will ensure that all of your product lasts longer. But even when stored in a cool environment, food is still prone to bacteria and spoilage. With the proper storage, however, you can help guarantee your food lasts.
When handling fresh foods, there are two bacterias that you need to be concerned with: pathogenic bacteria and spoilage bacteria. Pathogenic bacteria can cause foodborne illness, while spoilage bacteria can cause foods to deteriorate, developing unpleasant odors, textures, and tastes.
Proper refrigeration can help slow bacterial growth. Pathogenic bacteria grow quickly between 40 and 140°F, in what’s known as the “Danger Zone.” To prevent your refrigerator from maintaining this dangerous temperature, monitor your commercial refrigerator’s temperature. Perform temperature checks throughout the day to ensure the temperature is constant. Set your refrigerator to maintain a temperature of 40°F or below; any food that is held above this temperature for more than two hours should be tossed. Avoid storing too much food in your refrigerator, as excessive inventory can create tension when maintaining the proper temperature. Try to keep opening and closing of the refrigerator door to a minimum, and always ensure that the doors are tightly closed after use.
While refrigeration can help most foods stay fresh, others perform better in room temperature settings. Tomatoes, bananas, citrus fruits, peppers, onions, and apples are all commonly refrigerated, however, placing these items in a cool environment can cause them to lose flavor and become mushy in texture. Note that once these items are exposed to oxygen, they should then be refrigerated.
Because bacteria is able to grow and spread when the temperature inside of your commercial refrigerator fluctuates, storage placement is crucial. Raw meat, an easy victim to bacterial growth, should be kept separate from fruits, vegetables, and any ready-to-serve food that is stored in your refrigerator. To keep it fresh, any leftover or perishable food should be placed back into the refrigerator within two hours. The longer any food sits out in unstable temperatures, the more likely it is that it will suffer from bacteria or other microorganism growth.
Proper commercial food storage is crucial to the safety of your guests. For more walk-in cooler tips, check out the All Temp blog.