Use these 9 tips to store food properly

The National Restaurant Association has offered tips to ensure your food maintains its quality and also limit potential for bacterial growth and foodborne illness incidents. This article originally appeared here.

Here are nine rules to follow at your restaurant or foodservice operation:

  1. Identify use-by or expiration dates. Make sure you and your staff members are aware of when food items should be used and are no longer safe to serve.
  2. Rotate your food items. Make sure those with the earliest use-by or expiration dates are used before those with later dates. Consider the FIFO approach: First in, first out.
  3. Discard expired food. Throw out anything that has passed its manufacturers’ use-by or expiration date.
  4. Keep at least one thermometer in every cooler. Make sure you put it in the warmest part of the unit.
  5. Monitor your food temperatures regularly. Randomly sample the temperature of stored food to verify the cooler is working.
  6. Don’t overfill coolers and freezers. Storing too many food items prevents good airflow and makes the unit work harder to stay cold.
  7. Store frozen food properly. Hold it at a temperature that will keep it frozen.
  8. Use open shelving when storing food. Lining the shelves with aluminum foil, sheet pans or paper restricts air flow.
  9. Correctly store foods that need time and temperature control. Cold food should be stored at an internal temperature of 41°F (5°C) or lower, while hot food should be stored at 135°F(57°C) or higher.