Anyone with any experience in the food industry knows that closely following safety procedures is incredibly important when it comes to protecting food in commercial refrigeration or freezers. Proper temperature control ensures that your perishable food items are adequately cared for and are less susceptible to foodborne illnesses. Because of this, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has created strict safety regulations to prevent the growth of bacteria and the spread of disease.
Safely storing perishable food
Not all food is the same, though, when it comes to keeping it in a commercial refrigerator or walk-in cooler. For example, a walk-in cooler is kept at a colder temperature, which slows down the ability for bacteria to grow. As a result, it’s the perfect place to store any perishable foods, including cooked meats, in addition to fruits and vegetables. The other option is a freezer, which can stop the growth of bacteria entirely.
Optimal food storage temperatures
Much like each food has a different taste or texture, everything from bell peppers to raw meat requires its own temperature to follow safety guidelines for food storage. Some foods are incredibly sensitive to cold temperatures, while others need it in order to be safely served. Here are a few guidelines from your commercial refrigeration contractor in Delaware when it comes to storing food in a freezer or walk-in:
- Walk-in coolers and refrigerators: Most walk-in coolers are set to approximately 36-45 degrees Fahrenheit. This temperature is crucial, because anything less than that could cause the items to freeze, such as milk and dairy products. On the other hand, storing these foods above 45 degrees could cause it to spoil or could result in a variety of foodborne illnesses, including salmonella.
- Walk-in freezers: The temperatures of a walk-in freezer should be kept somewhere between zero degrees and -10. Remember that anything stored in these freezing temperatures will require a significant defrosting period. Otherwise, you could be serving your patrons half-frozen chicken—which is not just gross, but also a huge health hazard!
Maintaining the recommended temperatures
Just because you set the temperature as recommended doesn’t mean that it will immediately happen. It actually takes a bit of time to stabilize the overall temperature of the unit. The bigger the unit, the longer it will take for the new temperature to kick in. Usually, this can take about one day, but accidentally leaving the door open could slow down the process. If you’re still noticing the unit is failing to change temperatures, then consult a professional for commercial freezer and refrigeration repairs.
Remember to consistently check the thermostat to ensure that any food is being stored at a safe temperature consistent with regulations. Typically, this thermostat is located near the door and should be checked at least three times a day.
While properly training staff to recognize any potential issues, regularly checking the thermostat or any other safety procedures are great practices to have in place, they are practically pointless if the unit isn’t functioning properly. Regular maintenance from a qualified technician with Commercial Equipment Service will help you avoid costly emergency repairs, in addition to helping you avoid unexpected costs, spoiled food, sick customers and steep penalties from health inspectors. Contact your commercial refrigeration contractor in Delaware today, and our experienced staff will check to make sure your walk-in cooler or freezer is properly equipped to follow any safety guidelines.