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How to Store Different Types of Foods Safely

When it comes to food safety, food storage plays a very crucial role.

The storage process will be dependent on the type of food and also how long you want to store the food.

For running a food operation business or when you buy a bulk amount of foods, food storage is the biggest concern. It is extremely important to keep the food safe to eat raw or after cooking.

In this blog post, you will know how to store different types of foods. By keeping a few things in mind, you can store the foods for a long time without causing any contamination.

Ways of storing different types of food safely

Proper food storage helps to maintain food quality by keeping the original flavour, taste, texture, nutrients and colours intact.

However, different types of foods need specific treatment when it comes to food storage. Let’s get to know some important considerations while storing various kinds of foods.

1. Storing frozen food items

Foods that are preserved by freezing are considered as frozen food. Such a food preservation method slows down decomposition and turns the residual moisture into ice. It prevents the bacterial growth of the foods.

There is a specific temperature to be maintained for frozen food items. All the frozen foods need to be stored at –18°C (0°F) or lower. Any discrepancy from this temperature might harm the foods. The food will lose the colour, texture, taste and the nutrients in it.

Once the frozen foods are damaged, you will have the option of throwing it away only.

However, these are some important points to consider while storing frozen food items:

  • Before freezing the green vegetables, it is better to blanch it first. It will help to maintain the nutrients and colours of the frozen vegetables.
  • Once properly wrapped, frozen fruits and vegetables can be stored for months. Fish and meats will stay even longer frozen in the freezer.
  • If the frozen items are not wrapped properly in the freezer, it will cause freezer burn. It is the loss of the moisture preserved inside the food that eventually harms the texture and flavours of the food.
  • Stock rotation is essential for frozen food. People mostly follow the LIFO or last in first out method, whereas it should always be FIFO or first in first out method. So, organise the food items accordingly.
  • While keeping the frozen foods for the freezer, make sure there is enough room for air circulation. It would evenly cool all the surface of the food.
  • Segregate all the food packages by labelling, attach the date of expiry with it as well.

The following chart will provide you with some idea of the longevity of a few frozen foods once kept in the freezer.

Foods
Duration (Freezer at 0°F or below)
Commercially frozen bagel3 months
Frozen waffles or pancakes 2 months
Frozen Casseroles3 to 4 months
All fruit (except a few like Citrus fruit, Bananas and Avocado)10 to 12 months
Tomatoes2 Months
Asparagus8 to 10 Months
Uncooked meat3 to 4 months
Carrots, Broccoli, Mushrooms, Beets, Beans, Cauliflower, Okra, Corn, Peas, Onions, Soybeans, Peppers, Summer Squash, Spinach, etc.10 to 12 Month

Before putting the frozen foods into the freezer, it would be better to know the duration and mark it on the packaging to ensure food safety.

2. Storing refrigerated food items

Just like the freezer, the refrigerator is another essential component when it comes to safe food storage.

So many food items are preserved in the refrigerator to delay the decomposition and worsening of the food items. You need to stay cautious about the temperature of the refrigerator all the time. The temperature should be 0ºC and 5ºC; otherwise, the bacteria will start growing.

These are some essential considerations while storing refrigerated food items:

  • For refrigerated food storage 4°C (39°F) or colder is the ideal temperature.
  • While refrigerating food items, the basic rule is to keep ready to eat foods always above, not in the below part. Keep the raw food items in the below.
  • Keep checking the temperature of the refrigerator from time to time. You can use a thermometer for that purpose.
  • Checking on the refrigerator is essential to keep the foods safe inside the refrigerator.
  • Just like the food storage in the freezer, it is better to follow FIFO or first in first out method for refrigerated foods.
  • Don’t open the refrigerator for a long time.
  • It is better to avoid refrigerating hot foods unnecessarily.
  • Sort the food items inside the refrigerator. Doing so, you will get regular food items quickly.
  • It is an excellent practice to maintain a thorough cleansing routine to maintain the refrigerator to avoid bad smell from it. Otherwise, this bad smell would contaminate the original smell of the preserved food items.

Now, let’s get some idea of how long you can store a few food items inside the refrigerator at a glance:

Foods
Duration (Refrigerator at 40°F or below)
Apples4 to 6 Weeks
Blueberries1 to 2 Weeks
Avocados3 to 4 days
Asparagus3 to 4 days
Broccoli3 to 5 days
Carrots3 to 4 weeks
Cucumber4 to 6 days
Spinach 3 to 7 days
Tomatoes (If ripe)2 to 3 days
Commercially frozen bagel1 to 2 weeks
Commercially baked cakes and muffins7 to 10 days
Fresh beef3 to 5 days

3. Storing dairy products

Dairy products are the most delicate food products, but they are the most used products in the food industry. So, the store owners buy these products in bulk for their customers. The demanding part of this process is that the dairy products start deteriorating after coming to the external contact.

Safely dairy product storage is very crucial for businesses and customers. The following directions need to be considered, to store the dairy products safely,

  • The ideal temperature for dairy products in the freezer is at a temperature of 2°C to 4°C (36° to 39°F).
  • Keep the refrigerator clean all the time.
  • It is better to maintain a separate refrigerator solely for storing dairy products.
  • As a consumer, it is better not to buy dairy products much before the date of use.
  • Store the dairy products in a distinct area of the freezer with protective coverings.

Now, at a glance, let’s get to know about how long different dairy products can be stored at different temperatures and how to store those:

Food Items
Ways to store
Room temperature (50 to 70°F)
Duration (Refrigerator at 40°F or below)
Duration (Freezer at 0°F or below)
MilkRefrigerate the milk in a container and keep it closedNot safeOpen milk for 7 days & Closed cartons for 30 daysDo not freeze
ButterRefrigerate it in a closed containerMay be safe for 1 or 2 days2 weeks but up to 2 months for salted butter & 2 weeks for unsalted butter6 to 9 months for salted butter and up to 5 months for unsalted butter
Ice creamKeep it in the freezer in a closed containerNot safeNot safe2 to 4 months
YogurtKeep it coveredNot safe1 to 2 weeks1 to 2 months
Condensed MilkKeep it covered1 year1 weekDo not freeze

If you are thinking about buying dairy products in large quantities, then do a little bit of research before the purchase. Take the final purchase decision, only when you are sure about safe storage.

4. Storing dry foods

The best practice to store dry food is to keep it in airtight containers. Then you can place those containers in dry, cool, and dark areas. You can also go for vacuum packaging.

These dry foods should not be in contact with air and moisture; this is the main thing to consider.

While storing dry foods, you must consider these:

  • The ideal temperature should be 10°C to 15°C (50°F to 59°F), to store the dry foods.
  • The area should have the needed light.
  • Do not store the food on the floor directly.
  • The store should be designed in a way that it is easy to rearrange the dry foods. For example, you can keep the older items above other food items.
  • The storeroom area has to be clean all the time.

From the following table you will get some idea for how many days you can store different dry foods in different temperatures:

Food ItemsWays to storeRoom temperature (50 to 70°F)Duration (Freezer at 0°F or below)
Cereal (ready to eat)Keep it in a container, then place it in a dry area.12 to 18 months
CornmealKeep it in a container at normal temperature for regular use.6 to 12 months2 years
Oatmeal Keep it in a container in a dry area.12 months for an unopened container, 6 to 12 months for an opened container
RiceKeep it in a dry area.For brown rice 1 year and white rice for 2 years

5. Fruits and Vegetables

Produce is a common term for all the farm produce crops that include fruits, vegetables and many more.

The following points must be maintained while storing these food items:

  • The ideal temperature for produce food is 2° to 4°C (36° to 39°F). It ensures the freshness and nutrients of the food.
  • The length of the time these produce food items can be stories varies significantly.
  • These foods get rotten very quickly. The moisture in the vegetables is the main reason for it. So a quick storage arrangement is the ultimate solution.
  • Storing soft fruits is not a good idea. It is better to buy these foods as per your immediate need.
  • Remove the rotten food items as soon as you find out.

At a glance, ideal storage way and the duration of different produce foods in different temperature:

Food ItemsWays to storeRoom temperature (50 to 70°F)Duration (Refrigerator at 40°F or below)Duration (Freezer at 0°F or below)
ApplesAfter washing it properly, keep it in the refrigerator if you want to keep it for a long time3 weeks4 to 6 weeks8 months
Citrus fruitsAfter a proper wash, keep it in the refrigerator10 days10 to 21 days4 to 6 months
CauliflowerStore it in the freezer for long storage
3 to 5 days10 to 12 months
CucumbersStore it in the refrigerator part for a while
4 to 6 days
PotatoesIt is better to keep it at room temperature1 month
10 to 12 months

6. Storing poultry and fresh meats

These food items are the most expensive, and the storage process is also a bit difficult. The restaurants tend to buy these food items in bulk then deal with the storage process of it very cautiously.

Now, the following points are very critical regarding the storage of these food items:

  • For these foods, the ideal temperature is 4°C (39°F) or colder.
  • It is better to store such products in the lower part of the refrigerator.
  • Fresh poultry and seafood should be packed in ice then stored in the refrigerator. Both should be used as soon as possible.
  • Fresh meat should not be stored for so long.
  • Keeping the storage area clean will ensure there is not a bad smell in that place.

These are the duration of different food items of this kind:

Dairy Food ItemsWays to storeRoom temperature (50 to 70°F)Duration (Refrigerator at 40°F or below)Duration (Freezer at 0°F or below)
BaconStore it in the freezer section for longer storageNot safe1 week1 month
Fresh beefSame as aboveNot safe3 to 5 days4 to 12 months
Fully cooked sausageSame as aboveNot safe1 week1 to 2 months
Hot dogsSame as aboveNot safe2 weeks (unopened) and 1 week (opened)1 to 2 months
Raw egg yolks, whitesSame as aboveNot safe2 to 4 days
1 year

Tips while transporting different food items safely

For running a foodservice operation business, there will be frequent need for transporting different types of food items. On the road, it would be challenging to store the food safely on your own as our personal transports are not equipped with a freezer.

However, if you are transporting food items in bulk, you can always hire a refrigerated truck service providing company. These refrigerated vehicles can always take the responsibility of ensuring food safety while being on the road on your behalf.

The following special tips would make the food transportation process a bit convenient for you:

  • While transporting the food check if the refrigerated van is clean. So, disinfect and clean the surfaces, also the refrigeration unit.
  • Try not to cross-contaminate the foods. Keep the raw and the cooked food in a separate section.
  • While transported pre-heated food, you can keep it in insulated containers. Such foods need to be away from the contact of the air, so make sure these containers are airtight.
  • Measure the temperature of the refrigeration part of the vehicle before you keep the foods to make sure if the temperature is suitable for it for long hours.
  • Ensure the transporters are aware of the temperature requirement of a particular food type.
  • Try to ensure proper air circulation in the refrigeration area.
  • Make sure the refrigerated vehicle complies with the law during transportation.

Wrapping up

Storing foods in the right manner is a must to ensure food safety. It would reduce the risk for the people to become ill for foodborne diseases.

So, whenever you are planning to store a particular type of food, try to make sure you have enough arrangement of storing those foods in the right manner.

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