food-safety | 7 mins read

Why A Food Safety Storage Chart Should be a Staple in Every Kitchen

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Archita Wagle

By Archita Wagle

What is a Food Storage Chart?

Food storage is an important determinant of food safety. If food is not stored properly it can spoil or become contaminated. Consuming spoilt food can cause people to suffer from food poisoning and food-borne illnesses.

Food storage involves depositing food in a cold, cool, or warm receptacle to keep it safe. TheUnited States Food and Drug Administration has issued guidelines on proper food storage. These guidelines, outlined in a food storage chart, specify temperatures at which different types of food must be stored in order to avoid contamination.

Ensuring that food is stored correctly will go a long way in maintaining proper food safety standards.

How Will Improper Storage Cause Food Poisoning?

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It's important to keep food safe to prevent it from spoiling and getting contaminated. If food is not stored properly, it can cause mold and bacteria to grow on it. This can lead to food decay, contamination and waste.

Improper food storage can cause food poisoning and food-borne illnesses. There are two primary causes of food poisoning- biological contamination and chemical contamination. Food is biologically contaminated when bacteria grows in food. Chemical contamination occurs when food that is not stored correctly, or left out too long, undergoes chemical changes.

Improper food storage leads to these additional problems-

  • Penalties for not following proper food safety practices
  • Loss of reputation
  • Loss of customers
  • Legal repercussions when a business is sued by a customer

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Ideal Storage Temperatures for Meat Poultry and Fish

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Freezing is the most common method of preserving meat poultry and fish. Food safety guidelines state that the ideal temperature for storing fresh meat is between 28F and 32F. Ideally, meat should be kept in the coldest part of the refrigerator freezer. Cured and smoked meats and canned hams, which don't spoil as easily as raw meat, should be stored in their packaging.


The ideal food storage temperature for raw poultry is 38F40F. The proper storage method is to keep it in a bowl or on a platter at the bottom of the refrigerator. Quick freeze fish to prevent spoilage, which occurs due to protein denaturation. Storage guidelines recommend quick freezing between 32F to 23F in less than two hours. At complete freezing the ideal food storage temperature should be around -4F.


According to the food safety storage chart guidelines of the U.S. Food Drug administration, these are the ideal food temperatures for meat poultry and fish-

Food
Refrigerator
(40F or below)
Freezer
(0F or below)
Egg, chicken, ham, tuna, and macaroni salads
3 to 4 days
Does not freeze well
Luncheon meat
Opened package (5 days)
Unopened package (2 weeks)
1 to 2 months
Bacon and sausage
Raw (1 to 2 days)
Cooked (1 week)
1 to 2 months
Hamburger, ground meats and ground poultry
1 to 2 days
3 to 4 months
Fresh beef, veal, lamb, and pork
3 to 5 days
4 to 12 months
Ham
Raw (3 to 5 days)
Cooked (5-15 days)
Canned (6 to 9 months, not to be frozen)
Raw (6 months)
Cooked (1-2 months)
Fresh poultry like chicken turkey
Whole bird or pieces (1-2 days)
9-12 months
Fin Fish
1 - 3 days
Up to 8 months
Shellfish
Up to 10 days
Up to 18 months


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Ideal Food Storage Temperatures for Vegetables and Eggs

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Once fruits and vegetables are harvested, it's crucial that they be kept in proper food storage units that maintain the right temperature and humidity. Fresh vegetables and fruits have to kept at relatively low temperatures, between 32F and 55F. But they need relatively high humidity, of around 80-95%, to slow down their metabolic rate.

The ideal temperature for storing canned vegetables, fruits, and fruit juices is 50F70F, for up to one year. Frozen vegetables can be kept in the freezer at 0F for 8 months. Dehydrated vegetables can be stored for around six months in a cool and dry place.

Eggs should be stored in their original cartons in a clean refrigerator at 40F or below, and used within 3 weeks. As per guidelines on foodsafety gov, the ideal food storage temperature for storing raw egg whites and yolks is 2-4 days in a refrigerator, and up to 12 months in a freezer. Leftover egg dishes should be refrigerated and used within 3-4 days.

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Ideal Food Storage Time for Different Foods

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A food service operation has to ensure that the food it serves customers is fresh, safe and properly packaged. It can do this by making sure proper Food Management protocols are followed. This involves the selection, preparation, display, and preservation of food.

Food safety guidelines and storage chart rules mandate different storage times for different food products.


Bakery products- Bread can be stored in its original packaging at room temperature for up to 7 days. It will last 2 to 3 months if stored in a freezer. Cream-based products should not be stored in the refrigerator for over 3 days.

Water- Water that has been commercially bottled can be stored in a cool, dry place for up to two years. Ordinary tap water can be stored only for a few days.

Dairy products- Milk can be stored for up to 20 days in the refrigerator, but care should be taken to keep it capped. Food Safety guidelines don't recommend freezing milk to store it. Dry milk in airtight packaging can be kept at temperatures of 50F to 60F for a year. Canned, evaporated or sweetened condensed milk can be stored at room temperature for up to 23 months. Commercially packaged ice-cream can be stored below 0F for up to two months.




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Storage Rules to Keep Food Safe

To maintain Food Safety and prolong its shelf life, keep food in clean, dry, airtight containers.Keep food safe by storing it off the floor.

The following food storage steps ought to be followed to keep food safe-

Dry, cool storage space- No food product should be exposed to sunlight when it is stored. This helps maintain its ideal food temperature and prevents it from spoiling easily or losing its nutritional value. Humidity levels should be kept under 15%. Ideally, keep food in moisture-proof packaging.

Monitor humidity- To keep food safe for a long time, humidity levels should be maintained at around 55%. Keep a check on damp areas for mold growth. Follow practices that are compliant with food safety regulations.

Storage temperatures depend on cooking temperatures- Follow this rule of thumbhigher the cooking temperature, lower the storage temperature. Storage temperatures for dry food should be 50F70F; freezers should be maintained at 0F; and the ideal temperature for refrigerators should be 32F40F.

Rotate stocks- Ensure that stored food follows the FIFO (first in, first out) rule. Restaurants should use those foods first that have been stored first. New foods should be kept behind older items.


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Use Tech to Cook and Store Food Safely

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As a food service operation, it's not only vital to cook food safely, but to make sure food storage procedures are meticulously followed too. Software like ZipHACCP ensures that restaurants observe standard operating procedures to store food safely.


A task management and Scheduling Software like Zip HACCP draws up a checklist of food safety regulations a restaurant's staff needs to follow. It also provides timestamped records of these tasks. The food safety manager or restaurant manager oroperator receives regular updates on critical tasks across all devices in real time, instantly alerting them to criticalcontrol point violations.They can monitor the cooking and storage temperatures of every item in their kitchen remotely, without having to be present on site. This allows them to take up corrective actions to keep food safe anywhere, anytime.


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