Food storage sins are committed every day. Consider yourself #blessed that these sins can be forgiven and remedied with a penance of sorts. The kitchen life isn’t an easy one, but we’re here to show you the light. Follow these 10 Commandments of Food Storage, and get back on the path of food safety salvation:
Thou shalt not cover any storage container with anything but a fitted lid.
Don’t let missing lids get you down. In a bustling kitchen, it’s bound to happen. Encourage employees to be extra careful when throwing items in the trash and keep lids stored next to containers to keep them easy to see and reach. Even with lids clean and ready, we still see chefs covering their containers in plastic wrap or aluminum foil. Not only is air sneaking into your food, but it eliminates the possibility for stacking. Many chefs say they don’t have enough room in their BOH, but we ask: how much of that space is wasted? In addition to space efficiency, Cambro lids can solve your most common food storage problems. Choose between Seal Covers, FlipLids®, SlidingLids™ and more to keep food fresher and less susceptible to cross-contamination.
Thou shalt not hold food in containers not meant for food storage.
Don’t do your food the disservice of putting it in a container that it wasn’t meant for. Single-use containers were given that name for a reason. You may think you’re doing something good by recycling them for another use, but this is one time that’s discouraged. What you can’t see? Additives that can transfer from the plastic container to new food that’s held inside. That’s when foods start to take on flavors they aren’t meant to—and customers will notice. Plus, single-use containers are usually opaque and covered in writing, meaning labels are hard to decipher and chefs will have to open the container each time to see what’s inside. Do yourself a favor and throw the container of sour cream away and grab your Camwear® Round instead.
The same goes for cardboard boxes that bring fresh produce; these containers are designed purely for transportation. Don’t allow your operation to be compromised by dirt and critters that lie in wait inside cardboard boxes. When deliveries arrive, designate an employee to check it, receive it and transfer it from cardboard boxes to NSF-listed food containers like Camwear Boxes.
Remember to keep FIFO.
FIFO is the kind of acronym that deserves to be tattooed on someone’s knuckles because First In, First Out is one of the guiding principles of foodservice food storage. Its meaning is clear: always organize items by use-by date. When using effective FIFO organization, employees should be able to immediately grab the correct item without having to determine which needs to be used first. For food stored in containers, always use StoreSafe Food Rotation Labels. When it comes to cans, FIFO can be more difficult to manage, especially if you store them on a shelf. When employees are in a hurry and looking for the right ingredient, they are liable to shove every can out of the way until they find it. Any organization that was there is now gone. Every kitchen that uses a fair amount of #10 cans needs a #10 can rack. The Cambro Ultimate #10 Can Rack is superior to the rest for three reasons:
- It’s front-loading and gravity-fed
- Has built-in FIFO rotation
- Lifetime warranty against rust and corrosion
Honor thy food safety protocols.
The absolute worst thing you can do is make food safety any priority but number one. When the devil on your shoulder is telling you to hurry up and grab the plastic wrap, you must resist. It is easy to neglect food safety protocols when you’re busy, tired or tired of being busy—but one little thing can spiral into a big thing very quickly. Many foodservice operations have fallen victim to food safety scandals that could have easily been avoided. With so many things that can go wrong, it’s important to refresh your food safety knowledge from time to time. Each month, we profile businesses that have experienced violations that are extremely common AND easy to avoid. Click here to read the latest Real World Food Safety Violations.
Thou shalt not let food sit in its liquids and spoil.
Valuable time is spent prepping food, make sure that it’s worth it. There’s something very disappointing about seeing a container of prepped tomatoes that’s turned into a slushy mess. In those instances, you’re wasting time, money and food. Keep delicate prepped food safe by storing it in a Camwear Food Pan with a Drain Shelf or Colander Pan. Both items keep food away from drained liquids, keeping fresher for longer.
Thou shalt not store bulk ingredients in containers without an NSF-listing.
Have you ever found yourself somewhere you know feels wrong? Don’t let this happen to your bulk ingredients. Just because they fit doesn’t mean they should be there. Bulk ingredient containers should first and foremost always have an NSF-listing. That stamp of approval means the vessel is safe for food. If you must use a liner for food safety reasons, you’re using the wrong kind of container. Cambro Bulk Ingredient Bins are NSF-listed and made of an FDA-accepted material. We took a step further by adding a hygienic sliding lid to reduce handling and provided an S-Hook to hang your Camwear Scoop on the front.
Thou shalt not keep food past its expiration date.
How do you know if a food is expired? By reading the label, of course! As a reminder, all food containers need a label—and not just any label will do. Professional grade labels are essential for keeping food safety protocols. Many other kinds of tape can leave behind a sticky residue that breeds bacteria and cross-contamination opportunities. Cambro’s StoreSafe® Food Rotation Labels are made with chefs in mind. They are biodegradable, meaning they can dissolve in a dishwater or under running water. You won’t have any sticky residue left behind either—can we get an amen?! Now that you have your containers properly labeled, keep FIFO by organizing food by their expiration date and checking those dates each day to see what might need to be tossed out. We suggest adding this to your list of closing duties to ensure it actually gets done.
Thou shalt not cross-contaminate ingredients for customers with allergies.
We’re living in a gluten-free, nut-free, dairy-free, everything-free world and if you haven’t already accepted it, today is the day. Tickets with substitutions will keep on coming, and its best to ride with the times and cater to these customers to the best of your ability. We make it easier with our line of Allergen-Free Purple products. Available for CamSquares®, CamSquare Seal Covers and Measuring Cups, Allergen-Free Purple allows employees to easily identify which containers are safe for customers with allergies. These products are made with the same virtually unbreakable Camwear material that is durable and easy to clean.
Thou shalt not use dented food pans.
Our first reaction upon seeing a dented food pan is to avert our eyes. It’s too painful. We start to think about all the potentially bad things that could be happening in your kitchen when you have dented food pans. First, if you’re using dented food pans in your steam table, the areas that aren’t flush with the able are allowing steam to escape out and away from the food. Your temperature maintenance becomes compromised and that’s when food safety problems start to happen. When they aren’t in at table, they’re often storing food. Dented food pans don’t stack properly and can easily get stuck. Trying to pull dented food pans apart can quickly turn into an extreme sport.
What is a chef to do? Switch to Cambro High Heat H-Pans™. Designed to withstand temperatures from 40°F to 375°F (-40°C to 190°C), High Heat H-Pans won’t dent, chip or warp.
Thou shalt not waste food.
You might not be able to turn water into wine, but you can keep food from being wasted and that’s just as cool. More and more restaurants are working to waste less food. Not only is wasting food bad for the environment, it negatively affects your bottom line. We suggest monitoring the amount of food you’re ordering and comparing it against the amount of food that expires or spoils before it’s used. If you’re throwing away food because it’s expiring, you’re liking ordering too much of those items. But if you’re noticing a lot of spoiled food being thrown away, it’s likely your food storage practices. Start small by incorporating Camwear Food Pans, Seal Covers and Colander Pans into your regular rotation to see a big difference in the amount of waste your operation is contributing.
Follow these 10 Commandments of Food Storage and your kitchen will feel like heaven. Contact your Cambro rep today to get started on your divine intervention.