Storing fresh foods can be a tricky task. It can be easy to fall into the habit of throwing fresh foods into the refrigerator and assuming they’ll last longer since they’re being stored in a cool environment. Unfortunately, fresh foods are still prone to bacteria and rotting even in the refrigerator, but with proper storage, they have a chance of lasting longer.
There are two bacterias to be concerned about when handling fresh foods: pathogenic bacteria, which causes foodborne illness, and spoilage bacteria, which causes foods to deteriorate and develop unpleasant odors, tastes, and textures.
Safety is a big concern when it comes to storing fresh produce; proper refrigeration can help slow bacterial growth. Pathogenic bacteria grows quickly in what is known as the “Danger Zone,” or the temperature range between 40 and 140°F. In order to avoid this, continuously verify your refrigerator’s temperature. Avoid storing too much food in it; excessive inventory will create added tension in maintaining the proper temperature. Refrigerators should be set to maintain a temperature of 40°F or below, and any foods held above this temperature for more than two hours should not be consumed. Keep frequent opening and closing of the refrigerator to a minimum, and ensure that the doors are closed tightly after use.
While refrigeration of some foods can help them stay fresh longer, others do best in room temperature settings. Commonly refrigerated foods, such as tomatoes, bananas, citrus fruits, onions, peppers, and apples should be stored at room temperature. Placing these items in cool temperatures causes them to become mushy and lose their flavor. However, once these items are sliced into and exposed to oxygen, they should be placed into a refrigerator.
Bacteria is able to grow and spread when temperatures fluctuate inside of your walk-in refrigerator, so storage placement is important. Raw meat is an easy target for bacterial growth, so keep these items separate from fruits, vegetables, and ready-to-serve food that may be stored in your walk-in cooler. Leftover perishable food should be placed back in refrigeration within two hours to keep it fresh for later use. The longer food sits out in unstable temperatures, the more likely it is to become contaminated with bacteria or other microorganisms.
Make sure your food is stored safely with a commercial refrigerator to preserve freshness. The Orlando commercial refrigeration experts at All Temp can help you choose a refrigerator that meets your needs.