Storing food properly is very necessary, as it helps in preserving the quality of food, and retains the flavor, texture, and nutrients. If you do not store food in the recommended way, then the food might spoil, and eating spoiled food might cause food poisoning. Food is basically stored in refrigerators and the pantry, and it is important to know which food should be stored in the pantry and which should be stored in the refrigerator. Another important thing is that you should only store food that you know you are going to eat; there is no point storing cubes of tofu or soy milk if you know that you are not going to consume it.
Fresh produce, meat, and poultry should be purchased last in the supermarket and stored in the refrigerator. Dried foodstuff like wheat, rice, pasta, and herbs and condiments should be stored in the pantry. Avoid buying excessive food, especially perishable items like fruits and vegetables as they might go to waste. The best way to follow food storage guidelines is to make a list of all the things that you need while grocery shopping, and to regularly take stock of items that have a 'best before' date.
Food Storage and Safety Guidelines for Consumers
Some guidelines for food storage for consumers are as follows.
- Always store meats, poultry, eggs, seafood, and dairy products in the coldest section of the refrigerator. Avoid overloading the refrigerator by stuffing it with too much food, as it decreases the ability of the refrigerator to cool foods adequately. This might lead to spoilage of food.
- Cooked food should be stored in air tight containers, or zip lock pouches so that food does not dry out. Never refrigerate food in an open container as the odor of food will transfer from one dish to another.
- Clean your refrigerator every 15 days to remove any spills and spoiled food. Spoiled food are a breeding ground for bacteria to grow and multiply, and will contaminate other foodstuff as well.
- Maintain freezer temperatures below 0º F, as there is a high possibility that food stored above this temperature will spoil.
- Do not refreeze partially frozen food like frozen peas and chicken. Strictly avoid reheating and refreezing of soups, stews, and casseroles.
- When you are using leftovers, it is a good idea to label them with the date on which it was stored and use them as soon as possible.
- Clean the pantry regularly so that food kept in the pantry can be stored for a longer period of time.
Food Storage and Safety Guidelines for Restaurants
Restaurants must follow safe food storage guidelines in order to retain their license as well as provide patrons with hygienic food.
- Food that is purchased for use in restaurants should be brought from a source approved by the health department.
- Areas where food is stored should be dry, well ventilated, and adequately lighted.
- Food must be stored in storage rooms, and there should be regular inspection of the storage room to check for spillage, infestation, and spoilage.
- All dry foodstuff must be stored on shelves or platforms that are at least 6 inches above the floor.
- Food must be used in the way they are delivered. Do not use new foodstuff if you already have inventory from the last delivery. Label the dates on which food has arrived along with 'best before' date.
- Be very careful when you are handling poultry and meat products. Have separate chopping boards for meat, seafood, and vegetables to avoid cross contamination.
So, we have seen that it is very important to follow food storage guidelines in order that the food does not spoil or get contaminated. Keep stock of what you buy, and have a good rotation system so that you do not end up wasting food.