An axiom referred as “Proper preparation prevents poor performance” fits best on commercial refrigerators. A small thing like organizing a fridge can be helpful in smooth running of business, low cost, more profit, effective use of space and proper food usage. A refrigerator will work better if the food kept inside is organized. An inadequately arranged fridge consumes more energy than organized one. This results in a worn out compressor and more utility bills. All commercial fridges and refrigerators require an organized approach for keeping food inside them. This applies to fridges of all shapes and sizes. Depending on size, one can install additional shelves, dunnage racks or slides for products storage.
A guideline for effective organization of fridge and freezer include:
1. Use proper shelfing: For adequate shelfing, NFS open wire shelfing is best to stock items. NFS international is a non- profit organization that oversees public health and safety by establishing standards, product certification and development etc. Thee NFS open wire shelfing is safe and allow good air circulation.
The tier wire shelfing units can also be used. They have anti-microbial protection build in them. This is helpful in protection against foodborne illness.
Freezer dividers are also effective in organizing food into different compartments
2. Store raw meat products on lower shelves: Storing meat on the lowest shelf is essential to prevent the contamination. If the meat is placed in upper shelves, the dripping marinade and juice could destroy other food as well. This could lead to the spread of harmful bacteria to the customers. A large amount of food would be lost daily resulting in loss of profit. Therefore, it is recommended to store meat at lower shelves which could save food. This practice also makes cleaning process easy as the spills of meat are accumulated on the floor of refrigerator.
3. Keep food off the fridge floor: Storing food 6 inches above the floor is a requirement. The food in this way can be kept safe from dirt and pests as well as it improves sanitation by preventing pest infections. There should be n products placed on the floor. Keeping food away from floor can help in easy moping of dust and spills from the floor.
4. Store delicate produce away from fan: The fresh products should be kept away from fans. Fans can damage the delicate products. Food such as berries, a wide range of fruits and vegetables are susceptible to damage. Therefore, food packed in tins or cans can be placed near vents as they won’t lose their integrity than those of delicate products. On the other hand, keeping any food near the fan could cause a freeze burn. So a preferable distance should be made for storing any food near fans.
5. Allow good air circulation: It is necessary that the cold air inside the fridge has proper space for circulation. For this, a 3-6inch space between the food products and wall should be maintained for products to cool evenly.
Vented shelfing and proper storage is helpful in proper air circulation. The fixed and solid shelves of the refrigerators can create warm spots under the food items. These spots could cause uneven cooling of the products leading to faster spoilage rate of products. The bacteria from spoiled foods could in turn damage other products.
6. Leave space between items: It is recommended to leave space between different storage products as well. The products should not be loaded, leaving no space for circulating air. Closed packing also participates in formation of hot spots and uneven product cooling.
7. Label everything: Labelling with name and dates is essential. A product often resembles other in many aspects e.g. many green vegetables resemble each other, surface of old and new mil looks the same, old and new canned products. Neither can a person afford making a mistake in using the wrong product. Nor can he use the expired products for making food. Such things can be managed with date labels on different products and picking the right products for usage.
8. FIFO; First In, First Out strategy: This approach is helpful in maintaining the check and balance of food, limiting food spoilage, using fresh products every time and preventing the usage of products past their expiration date. According to this strategy, the products that are stored first should be used first. Food is organized in such a manner that new products are assembled at the end while the old ones are placed on the front. Therefore no product gets expired and spoilage rates are lowered.
Importance of Organization: High quality food is not cheap. The storage plan keeps integrity of products so that they don’t get wasted. The storage spaced is utilized properly by such an organization. It smoothens the kitchen operations and saves time. It helps consume less energy and reduce costs. Less cleaning is required and cleaning process is also easy as compared to the disorganized freezers. Ordering and restocking is faster and less time consuming. Improperly stored food is the reason of restaurants getting shut or fined. They violated certain health code. To avoid it, organizing the fridge should be made a priority. To maintain this, the staff should be well aware of the importance of organizing a fridge. Moreover, healthy food attracts customers. One should take time to improve organization and enjoy longer life from their equipment and better food quality for their customers.