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How to Properly Store Food in Your Walk-In Cooler

How to Properly Store Food in Your Walk-In Cooler

A lot depends on proper food storage. Storing food properly leads to less inventory loss, happier customers, and a decreased cost of running your business. It is important to take care of food items and store them in an efficient and safe way.

Improper food storage can lead to lesser quality food or even food poisoning from contaminated ingredients.


Bacteria is able to grow and spread when temperatures fluctuate inside of your walk-in refrigerator. Raw meats (including fish and poultry) are easy targets for bacterial growth. Keep these items separate from fruits, vegetables, and ready to serve food that may be stored in your walk-in. Raw meat should always be placed below ready to serve food in order to reduce the chance of contamination.

Leftover perishable food should be placed back in your walk-in unit within two hours to keep it fresh for later use. The longer food sits out in unstable temperatures, the more likely it is to become contaminated with bacteria or other microorganisms.

Temperature checks throughout the day will help limit the risk of temperature fluctuations. In addition, adding a back up thermometer to your walk-in unit helps keep temperature in check in case your main thermometer becomes faulty.

Finally, it is imperative that you do not overfill your walk-in cooler. Putting too much inventory in your unit will only cause it to work extra hard in order to maintain the proper temperature – increasing utility costs and wear and tear on interior components. It also decreases airflow within the cooler, which leads to unstable and fluctuating temperatures.


It is easy to throw an ingredient or food item in a walk-in cooler and assume it will stay fresher because it is in a cool area. Unfortunately, there are many items that are commonly refrigerated that would fare far better in room temperature environment.

Whole tomatoes should be stored at room temperature, not in the walk-in cooler – where they can become mushy and lose their flavor. The same goes for  most citrus fruits, bananas, onions, peppers, and apples. Once these items are sliced into and exposed to oxygen, they should be placed into a refrigerator.

Bread is sometimes stored in the refrigerator but this can cause it to dry out. Storing bread at room temperature will help in remain soft and fresh. Fresh bread with minimal preservatives may be kept in the refrigerator after a few days of remaining on the counter or in the pantry to help it last longer.

Herbs are often bought pre-refrigerated in a plastic container. The best thing you can do for fresh herbs is to place their stems in a container of room temperature water – similar to how fresh flowers are displayed. This helps them stay hydrated until they are used in a dish.

It is important to protect your customers from food borne illnesses and bacteria as well as consuming dried out, spent ingredients. Proper and safe storage is essential in ensuring your inventory is kept fresh.

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