Organization is key to an efficient commercial kitchen. It saves space, time, and energy. It makes loading and unloading supplies a breeze. Having an organization system keeps employees on the same page, no matter their shift. Here are tips for keeping your commercial reach-in refrigerator or freezer functioning effectively while meeting food safety standards.

1) Organizing Shelves

Most commercial reach-in units have five shelves. It is recommended for pre-cooked, ready-to-eat products, and produce to be stored on the top shelf. Middle shelves are ideal for storing seafood, whole cuts of raw pork, beef, ground meat, and fish. The bottom shelf is for poultry.

If you aren’t serving multiple types of meat, remember to keep raw meats, marinating meats, or thawing meats at the bottom. You do not want their juices to leak down into other food items as this is a health code violation.

Once you have a designated shelf for each category of food, consider labeling them so new employees can learn the system. Label food containers and bins so even seasoned staff can quickly find items. Some commercial kitchens use colored bins to aid organization. It provides a visual cue as to where each item is located.

2) Spacing

While organizing a reach-in, remember to keep products 3” to 6” away from the interior walls and other food items. This permits air circulation and maintains the foods’ quality and freshness for longer.

Provide additional inches around fans and ventilation systems. Produce especially should be placed away from fans as it can cause it to wilt faster.

3) First In, First Out

Practice first in, first out (FIFO). This means that whatever goes into the reach-in first should be used first. Rotate items every time something new is placed inside. This reduces food waste and maintains the quality of food served.

The benefits of organizing reach-in units cannot be overstated. It prevents hot spots, maintains food quality, ensures food safety standards are met and improves overall cleanliness. It makes cleanup easier, inventory more convenient, and provides a smoother operation. The unit won’t have to work as hard either with its fans unblocked, extending the life of the reach-in.

Utilizing every inch of your reach-ins capacity may seem initially time-consuming, but once it is upheld and practiced there will be a noticeable difference in efficiency.

If you have any questions, contact us.

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