Rising summer temperatures present challenges for restaurants when it comes to safe food storage and preparation. When it’s hot, refrigerators and freezers need to work harder to maintain a steady internal temperature, which can lead to equipment failure.
Your concerns about preserving valuable food inventory at safe temperatures are compounded by the risk of equipment breaking down under the additional workload. However, there are a few simple steps you can take as a restaurant owner or manager to take some of the strain off refrigeration equipment and ensure that food safety is maintained even when things get a little too hot in the kitchen.
5 Tips for Enhanced Restaurant Refrigeration in the Summer
These 5 tips will help you keep your system cool and protect your investments in supplies and equipment, while allowing you to serve the freshest fare throughout the summer months.
1. Set all refrigeration units to the correct temperature. While the FDA requires restaurant refrigerators to be set at 40°F or below, most commercial refrigerators are set at 38°F. This practice offers a small buffer before foods enter the “danger zone” of 40-140°F, when bacteria growth is rapid, sometimes doubling every 20 minutes.
2. Implement a temperature monitoring system.You’ll want a tool that monitors current food temperatures and enables you to track temperature history. A good temperature monitoring system will alert you to problems instantly and allow you to see trends that can indicate failing equipment before it stops functioning. Remote temperature monitoring systems provide real-time information through sensors in your walk-in cooler or refrigerator straight to your computer, tablet or smart phone, giving you instant visibility into how your equipment is keeping up in the summer heat.
3. Practice regular preventative maintenance. Cleaning the cooling coils, checking the discharge lines, maintaining fluid levels, and keeping the fan free of obstructions will allow units to function efficiently as they work harder to ward off the heat. Train staff not to block doors open for deliveries or any other reason, as an open door in summer causes food temperatures to rise rapidly and forces the equipment to work harder to catch up.
4. Plan for power loss or a system breakdown. Demands on the power grid in the summer can cause “brown-outs,” which are an insidious problem that may prevent commercial refrigerators from maintaining safe temperatures while they seem to be running. With a system breakdown or complete power failure, make sure to keep doors closed and move as many items as possible into a freezer or other cold storage right away. These measures can help keep food cooler and safe. Any perishable food which has been above 40°F for more than 2 hours should be discarded.
5. Pay attention to location, location, location. Commercial refrigeration units should have generous clearance on all sides to allow heat generated to dissipate and provide access to coils and drain hoses for cleaning. Locating your unit away from sunny windows and in the coolest part of your facility will put less strain on the system. Placing refrigerators and freezers in a space with its own room cooling system creates a buffer zone against the heat.
Protecting Food Safety, Valuable Equipment, and Your Restaurant's Reputation
With monitoring, maintenance, preventative measures, and a quick response to any system issues, you can protect customer safety, your business reputation, and preserve your bottom line by limiting food inventory losses in the summer. Keeping a cool head and managing your refrigeration system allows you to serve consistent, flavorful menu items to your guests all year round.
ComplianceMate™ is a foods safety management tool, which monitors temperatures inside commercial refrigerators and freezers while reporting to a remote dashboard anywhere with internet access. By downloading the FREE ComplianceMate C19 app here, restaurant owners and staff can easily track sanitation procedures and employee statuses. This innovative app allows you to plan your safe re-opening, answer customer concerns, and file locally required reports.
This post is sponsored by ComplianceMate™