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Permits, Food, Licensing
~ Puka whakaaetanga me ngā raihana kai

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Food Storage

Inspect supplies on arrival for damaged packaging, thawed frozen foods, insect or rodent damage or other contamination and the coldness of refrigerated foods. Ensure food is stored quickly and in the correct area.

Non-perishable foods such as cans, unopened bottles and dry foods are alright to be stored at room temperature in a cupboard or pantry. Packets are best in sealed, airtight containers with labels so that they last longer and pests cannot get at them. Dry goods storage should be dry, cool and well ventilated. It must be cleaned regularly as the rest of the premise and ensured to be pest free. Food should be stored above the floor to facilitate cleaning. Foods should be organised to ensure stock rotation. That is, first in, first out. Keep an eye on use-by dates. It is best to keep stocks to a minimum and buy fresh frequently.

Perishable foods such as meat, dairy foods, eggs, wet foods, vegetables and left-overs need to be kept in the fridge or freezer depending on the required storage time. They should also be covered and easy to identify. Raw foods should be stored below cooked foods and not touching or dripping on each other. Again stock rotation must be ensured and some foods will require date marking to ensure they are not left too long.

Time and Temperature

Fridges are required to ensure the food is stored at less than 4°c.
A walk in chiller for meat or fish should ensure the food is stored at less than 2°c.

Note my specific wording regarding temperatures. I don't just mean the fridge should be set to operate at less than 4°c, you must ensure that whatever the fridge is set at the actual food is at less than 4°c, by checking it with a mobile thermometer, not just checking the dial of the fridge. There is often a vast difference in temperatures throughout appliances, and the dial may not accurately represent what is actually going on at different places inside.

Readily perishable foods should not be kept in a fridge longer than about three days. Less perishable foods like vegetables will last longer, but their nutritional value and appeal will diminish. Fresh is always best, for appeal, wholesomeness and safety.

If protected from freezer burn by wrapping they should last much longer in a properly used freezer.

Freezers must ensure the food is at less than -18°c. Just because it is frozen solid does not mean it is safely stored. At -18°c no bacteria can continue to multiply, thus you have a longer storage time. But they will not all be killed by freezing. If your freezer is not cold enough, even though the food is 'frozen', bacteria can still multiply and render the food unsafe to be eaten.

Make sure the freezer or fridge aren't overloaded. There must always be room for free-flow air to circulate to maintain the temperature. Overloading and too much frost will mean the appliance is struggling to do its job and probably costing you lots more in your power bill to do so.

Fridges and freezers should be commercial appliances. A commercial premise puts too much strain on a domestic appliance for it to do its job well.

In between hot and cold

Minimising the time in between hot and cold is essential to avoid bacteria that survived the cook stage by sporulating to begin multiplying again and possibly making toxins in the food.

In transferring heated food to cool storage, once removed from the heat, leave the food (covered lightly to prevent contamination) at room temperature for no longer than ½ to one hour before putting it in the fridge or freezer. If you leave this stage too long, bacteria in the food can begin to multiply and make the food unsafe to eat, either due to bacterial load or toxins produced in the food.

To increase the speed of food cooling down either slice it straight away or divide it into flat trays so that more of it is exposed to room temperature to cool it faster. Slicker pad styled stirrers can also cool food quickly. Trays can also be sat in iced water or on crushed ice to cool the contents quickly. Whatever you do, minimise the time in between hot and cold. Obviously, you also mustn't put hot food into fridges or freezers too soon as then the whole appliance is heated up and all the food is at risk. Once you can no longer see steam rising from the food is the best way to tell it's time.

Temperatures should be recorded to show the ongoing picture of safe food storage (and display -see later). These records should be monitored to ensure appropriate measures are taken immediately if something goes wrong.

For instance, if there has been a power cut and food in freezers has thawed out, must it be thrown out? Can it be sold or used as fresh? Or can it be cooked and made safe that way? The action taken must match the risk.

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