Food Safety – How to Store Cold Foods Properly

Lemons and pepper in baskets

When storing cold and perishable foods in your food service facility, it’s important to remember to keep cold foods cold and frozen foods frozen solid. Having a clean, and maintained, cooler and freezer will keep your foods at their freshest points.

Storing Cold Food Safety Tips

Cooler and Refrigerator Tips:

The items stored in your cooler or refrigerator should be produce, dairy products, ready-to-eat foods, meats, condiments, etc.

Keep your cooler at 35 – 38 degrees to keep foods at 41 degrees or below. Be aware to not overstock your cooler, as it may prevent air flow.

Freezer Tips:

Make sure your freezer is working properly; this is very important since food must be thrown away if not kept frozen solid. Remember to never thaw and refreeze foods, as this can lead to foodborne illness.

Keep your freezer between 0 to -10 degrees. Also, defrost your freezers regularly so they operate efficiently.

General Cooler and Freezer Tips:

  • Schedule regular maintenance to ensure correct temperatures
  • Monitor food temperatures regularly by randomly sampling the temperature of food items
  • Check temperature of units at least twice per day
  • Check thermometers regularly for accuracy
  • Consider cold curtains to maintain temperatures
  • Use open shelving – do not line shelves
  • Clean shelves, walls, and floors frequently
  • Clean up spills and leaks right away to stop contamination of other foods

The Nutrition Resource Center, a team of registered dietitians and certified food-safety professionals at Gordon Food Service, offers many food safety tools and resources for customers. If you are currently a customer, learn more about our food safety service offerings.

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