Food Storage

The following rules of safe food storage have two purposes:

1. To prevent contamination of foods

2. To prevent growth of bacteria that may already be in foods

Temperature control is an important part of food storage. Perishable foods must be kept out of the Food Danger Zone—41°F to 135°F (5°C to 57°C)—as much as possible, because these temperatures support bacterial growth. See Figure 2.1 for a chart of important temperatures.


Food is handled in many stages between the time it is received and the time it is finally served.This progression, called the flow of food, is discussed further in a later section. During each stage,food might be allowed to remain in the Food Danger Zone for a time. To protect food and keep it safe, follow the four-hour rule: Do not let food remain in the Food Danger Zone for a cumulative total of more than 4 hours between receiving and serving.

For example, imagine a food that is left on the loading dock for 30 minutes before being put into cold storage, removed from storage and left on the worktable for an hour before being prepared, and finally cooked at a low temperature so that it takes 3 hours to reach a safe internal temperature (see p. 29).This food has spent a total of 4% hours in the danger zone and should be considered unsafe.





1. Safe food handling begins the moment food is unloaded from the delivery truck. In fact, it begins even earlier than this, with the selection of good, reputable suppliers. Keep the receiving area clean and well lit.

2. Inspect all deliveries.Try to schedule deliveries during non-peak hours to allow proper time to inspect the items. For the same reason, try to schedule deliveries so they arrive one at a time.

3. Reject shipments or parts of shipments that are damaged or not at the proper temperature. Frozen foods should show no signs of having been thawed and refrozen.

4. Label all items with the delivery date or a use-by date.

5. Transfer items immediately to proper storage.


Dry food storage pertains to those foods not likely to support bacterial growth in their normal state.These foods include


Sugar and salt

Cereals,rice, and other grains

Dried beans and peas

Ready-prepared cereals

Breads and crackers

Oils and shortenings

Canned and bottled foods (unopened)

1. Store dry foods in a cool, dry place,off the floor, away from the wall, and not under a sewer line.

2. Keep all containers tightly closed to protect from insects, rodents, and dust. Dry foods can be contaminated, even if they don't need refrigeration.

18 C

41 F

32 F

41 F

32 F

Cooking temperatures

Most disease-causing organisms killed in a few minutes.

. Hot food holding

Bacteria do not multiply, but most are not killed.

Food - danger zone

Bacteria multiply rapidly.

Cold food

- storage (refrigeration)

Food safe for short periods. Little bacteria growth.


Bacteria do not grow, but most are not killed.

Freezer ' storage

Bacteria do not grow, but most are not killed. Best temperatures for frozen food storage.

Figure 2.1

Important temperatures in sanitation and food protection.


1. Keep frozen foods at 0°F (-18°C) or lower.

2. Keep all frozen foods tightly wrapped or packaged to prevent freezer burn.

3. Label and date all items.

4. Thaw frozen foods properly. Do not thaw at room temperature, because the surface temperature will go above 41°F (5°C) before the inside is thawed,resulting in bacterial growth.These methods may be used:

• In refrigerator

• Under cold running water

• In a microwave oven, if the item is to be cooked or served immediately


1. Keep all perishable foods properly refrigerated. Note that the lower limit of the Food Danger Zone (41°F/5°C) is only the upper limit for refrigerator storage. Most foods keep even better at lower temperatures.The major exception is fresh fruits and vegetables, which are not considered potentially hazardous foods. See Table 2.4 for preferred storage temperatures for various foods.

2. Do not crowd refrigerators. Leave space between items so cold air can circulate.

3. Keep refrigerator doors shut except when removing or putting in foods.

Table 2.4

Food Storage Temperatures

Table 2.4

Food Storage Temperatures

Raw vegetables and fruits (see note)








Milk and cream




Poultry and meat




Fish and seafood





Note: Potatoes, onions, and winter squash are best held at cool temperatures (50°-65°F or 10°-18°C).

Keep shelves and interiors of refrigerators clean.

Note: Potatoes, onions, and winter squash are best held at cool temperatures (50°-65°F or 10°-18°C).

Store raw and cooked items separately if possible.

6. If raw and cooked foods must be kept in the same refrigerator, keep cooked foods above raw foods. If cooked foods are kept below raw foods, they can become contaminated by drips and spills.Then,if they are not to be cooked again before serving, they may be hazardous.

7. Keep refrigerated foods wrapped or covered and in sanitary containers.

8. Do not let any unsanitary surface, such as the bottoms of other containers, touch any food.

9. Chill foods as quickly as possible over ice or in a cold-water bath before placing in the refrigerator. A gallon of stock placed in a refrigerator hot off the stove may take 10 hours to go below 41°F (5°C),giving bacteria plenty of time to grow.

10. When holding foods such as protein salads in a cold bain-marie or refrigerated table for service, do not heap the food above the level of the container.The food above this level will not stay cold enough.

Continue reading here: Hot Food Holding

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