If you are opening a new restaurant for the first time, then understanding how best to go about food storage will be an important priority. It is believed that around 4-10 per cent of food in restaurants does not end up being served to the customer. One of the main reasons for this is due to spoilage and staff error. Having an excellent food storage system in place and ensuring that all staffs are well trained is therefore key to minimising waste. Food storage is of course inextricably linked to food safety, so getting the basics right from the get-go and ensuring that everything is running smoothly behind the scenes is an essential part of the process.
Keep all storage dry and dark: All food products, whether it’s dry goods or cold products, should always be stored away from sunlight exposure. This helps with temperature control and stops food from spoiling or losing some of its nutritional value. To help preserve product quality, humidity levels should always stay under 15 per cent. Air conditioning and moisture-proof packaging are good ways to help maintain the right temperature levels.
Monitoring humidity levels: Keeping a hygrometer in your storage areas is one of the best ways to monitor humidity levels and ensure that they stay consistent. If you spot any damp or mould problems in any areas of the kitchen or storage spaces, then this will need to be addressed as soon as possible as any mould should be removed as a priority. This way, you can ensure that your practices are hygienic, and comply with food safety regulations.
Store food based on cooking temperatures: The higher the temperature of the cooked food, the lower the fridge storage shelf. The bottom three shelves are reserved for raw animal products. All seafood, beef, pork, veal, lamb and eggs should be stored third from the bottom, ground or marinated meats on the second, and poultry on the bottom shelf. Dry storage temperatures should be kept between 50° and 70° F, freezers should have an internal temperature of 0° F at most, while fridge temperatures should be kept between 32° and 40° F to prevent bacterial growth. Any hot storage must keep food at a minimum of 140° F.
Stock rotation and labeling: Stock rotation is every restaurant’s first line of defense against spoiled food being served to customers. To ensure that all your food stock is of the highest quality and to prevent food wastage, all staff needs to follow the "FIFO" rule – first in, first out. This means that any newly delivered food should always be placed behind older food to ensure that the system works correctly.
These are some of the most basic and essential food storage guidelines to get you going; however, it is crucial to conduct thorough research to make sure that every single box is ticked. This way, you can ensure that your restaurant is fully sustainable, and customers are always happy and coming back for more!