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Refrigerators: Keeping it cool and safe

While the cooling fundamentals haven’t changed much in refrigeration equipment, the units have evolved in size, form and function to protect food at every stage—from raw ingredients, to kitchen prep, finished product and service. The introduction of blast chillers has helped expand the use of cook-chill production methods to smaller operators, and stylish glass front display cases can enhance restaurant design, add theater and provide visual impact.

Safe food temperatures: Temperature fluctuation has been one of the top contributors to food-related illness, not to mention premature spoilage and the decline of ingredient and food quality. Current FDA Food Code calls for refrigerated storage temperatures of 41°F or lower and frozen storage temperatures of 0° or lower for most food items. Make sure any refrigeration equipment under consideration is capable of maintaining these temperatures.

Refrigerant, CFCs and the ozone layer: Chlorofluorocarbon refrigerants (CFCs) were identified as a factor in the declining health of the Earth’s protective ozone layer and were phased out of production in January, 1996. Ensure all new refrigeration equipment uses CFC-free refrigerants and is fabricated with CFC-free insulation. R-22 and R-404A refrigerants are popular replacements for those old CFC-laden refrigerants.

Remote vs. integrated refrigeration package: The refrigeration package typically consists of a compressor, an evaporator coil, a condenser coil and several fans for moving air over and through those coils. All smaller refrigeration equipment has a compact, modular “refrigeration package” built into the unit. Refrigeration equipment generates noise and waste heat. Many walk-ins, roll-ins and other larger refrigeration units can be equipped with a remote compressor/condenser package—typically mounted on the roof—designed to chill one or more units and isolate the noise and the heat load that impacts building HVAC systems.

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