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Receive and Store Foods Safely

Receive and Store Foods Safely

The Culinary Institute of America

It is not unheard of for foods to be delivered to a food service operation already contaminated. To prevent this from happening to you, inspect all goods to be sure they arrive in sanitary conditions. Check the ambient temperature inside the delivery truck to see that it is adequate.

Check the temperature of the product as well as the expiration dates. Verify that foods have the required government inspection and certification stamps or tags.

Randomly sample items and reject any goods that do not meet your standards. Move the items immediately into proper storage conditions.

Refrigeration and freezer units should be regularly maintained and equipped with thermometers to make sure that the temperature remains within a safe range. Although in most cases chilling will not actually kill pathogens, it does drastically slow down reproduction. In general, refrigerators should be kept between 36° and 40°F/2° and 4°C, but quality is better served if certain foods can be stored at these specific temperatures:

Meat and poultry: 32° to 36°F/0° to 2°C
Fish and shellfish: 30° to 34°F/–1° to 1°C
Eggs: 38° to 40°F/3° to 4°C
Dairy products: 36° to 40°F/2° to 4°C
Produce: 40° to 45°F/4° to 7°C


Separate refrigerators for each of the above categories are ideal, but if necessary, a single unit can be divided into sections. The front of the unit will be the warmest area, the back the coldest.

Before storing food in the refrigerator, it should be properly cooled, stored in clean containers, wrapped, and labeled clearly with the contents and date. Store raw products below and away from cooked foods to prevent cross contamination by dripping. Use the principle of “first in, first out” (FIFO) when arranging food, so that older items are in the front.

Dry storage is used for foods such as canned goods, spices, condiments, cereals, and staples such as flour and sugar, as well as for some fruits and vegetables that do not require refrigeration and have low perishability. As with all storage, the area must be clean, with proper ventilation and air circulation. Cleaning supplies should be stored in a separate place.

Hold Cooked or Ready-to- Serve Foods Safely

Keep hot foods hot and cold foods cold. Use hot-holding equipment (steam tables, double boilers, bain-maries, heated cabinets or drawers, chafing dishes, etc.) to keep foods at or above 135°F/57°C. Do not use hot-holding equipment for cooking or reheating. Use cold-holding equipment (ice or refrigeration) to keep cold foods at or below a temperature of 41°F/5°C.

Reprinted by permission from The Culinary Institute of America, The Professional Chef, 8th Edition (John Wiley & Sons, Inc. 2006).