How healthy is your fridge? We’re talking about your restaurant or cafe refrigeration, or any other appliance you use to store perishable food at your eatery. While we can provide you with top quality commercial refrigeration, you have an obligation to look after it and keep it as clean and as hygienic as you can. If your fridge is sick, your customers will be too.
The first step in this “health check” is to monitor the temperature of your restaurant or cafe fridge. This can help prevent not only food poisoning but also excessive spoilage and wastage. Many fridges in cafes and restaurants are not set to the correct temperature, or a lack of maintenance sees them operating at less than optimum temperatures. As a result, this creates an unsafe environment for food storage. Harmful bacteria like Listeria monocytogenes thrive in these conditions, which is why it is recommended that a fridge is kept below 5°C and the freezer below -15°C. Keeping food at these temperatures or below can significantly slow the growth of harmful bacteria and minimise food spoilage.
Fridge and freezer temperatures should be reassessed from season to season to make sure food is kept at the right temperature year round. As an example, you may need to increase the temperature of your fridge in the cooler months to avoid food accidental freezing. One of the easiest ways to keep your fridge at the right temperature is to ensure the doors are closed properly. When fridge and freezer doors are accidentally left open, the stored food slips into the temperature danger zone (between 5 °C and 60 °C), which promotes the growth of dangerous bacteria. This also allows moisture to enter the fridge which accelerates the development of anaerobic bacteria. With this in mind, door seals need to be checked at this point.
Proper fridge cleaning is just as important. Most eateries make an effort but in peak seasons and during busy times, the regular cleaning programme can be overlooked. A dirty fridge is an appealing home to bacteria including salmonella, listeria and E. coli? A study carried out on the average frost-free home fridge found that the salad drawers alone can contain 7,850 bacteria units per square centimetre. To show how alarming this statistic is, the recommended amount of bacteria units per square centimetre for safe food preparation is between 0 and 10! While the study was done on a home fridge, it applies just as much to commercial refrigeration and can have the exact same consequences.
Before summer arrives and you enter the busy season, give your cafe and restaurant refrigeration a comprehensive health check. The better shape it’s in, the better off your customers will be. Contact us and we’ll carry out that check for you.