If you work in the foodservice industry, it is important that you understand how to properly maintain and store perishable goods. When it comes to a storage system, consider carefully what equipment you need to safely and hygienically preserve your products and ensure you are using the proper heavy duty shelving system.
Heavy duty shelving can support heavy loads and lowers the risk of injury due to falling items. Restaurants and grocery stores commonly use wire shelving and pallet racking systems, as they can accommodate the needs of frozen food storage and easily acclimate to climate-controlled conditions.
The average shipment usually is less than a truckload worth of frozen food product. The cold storage process focuses on minimizing the amount of time it takes to move the product. All the product must be loaded and stored correctly to avoid cross-contamination and damage to fragile items. Temperature is also an important factor, as you do not want food to unthaw and then freeze again.
Temperature Control vs. Climate Control
Agricultural products require climate-controlled storage. Products like meat, dairy, fruits, vegetables, and grains must be stored between 36 to 46ºF to avoid product loss and maintain freshness.
While temperature-controlled facilities keep products at a steady temperature, climate-controlled facilities go a step further by controlling the degree of humidity in the air. Humidity can be damaging to stored foods and cause them to spoil. Having a facility to control humidity helps perishables last even longer in storage.
- Install an Automatic Palletizer
An automatic palletizer is a mechanism designed to stack cases of goods onto a pallet for storage. This technology helps eliminate the handling of frozen goods by employees in the sub-zero freezer conditions.
Use specific lubricants designed to work with the harsh freezer environment to prevent ice build-up on your palletizer and to enable palletizing inside of the freezer environment.
- Balance Temperature Changes
Some temperature-controlled and climate-controlled facilities require multiple temperature zones according to the season.
For these facilities, a modular curtain wall system can be installed. A modular curtain is designed to resist infiltration by air and water and acts as a refrigeration agent. This low-risk option can be easily taken down and put back up from one building to another. Refrigerating air can be costly, so consider investing in a modular curtain to help with that cost.
- Guard Against Vulnerabilities and Form a Contingency Plan
To manage frozen food storage, all employees are expected to know the techniques and practices necessary to sustain adequate storage conditions. Everyone involved should be focused on moving products quickly to provide consumers with the highest degree of freshness and nutrition possible.
Also, have a plan in case of shipment delays or other unplanned contingencies. Even with the best technology available, unexpected delays can jeopardize your shipment if your facility is unprepared.
- Prioritize Food Protection
To protect the life of your products, regulation and maintenance of temperature and humidity levels are necessary. Constant regulation is challenging and can pose certain risks such as total loss of the product, if not done correctly. Most temperature systems depend on the operator who must be manually adjusting and managing the whole system.
Label your products and pallet racking system. Barcode labels create a link between the computer system that tracks what items are in stock to the physical products being retrieved and moved. Freeze-grade labels are available that permanently bond to most rack surfaces in environments as low as -20ºF.
Ensure you are choosing the right equipment to meet the needs of your facility when purchasing a storage system. While there are several challenges associated with frozen food storage, heavy duty shelving systems, and climate-control allow for more simple, manageable storage of these goods.
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