Chapter 5 – Purchasing, Receiving, & Storage

CHAPTER 5.1

The Journey of Food, Purchasing to Store Room

For the next three chapters, we are going to look at the Journey of Food. In this chapter, we are going to look at purchasing through to your storage facilities and what you can do to protect safety.

For the vast majority of operations, you may think that your management of food safety will not begin until after the delivery truck arrives. Actually, it starts from the moment you choose a supplier.

PURCHASING

You have to feel confident that the food you bring into your operation is safe. All the controls you put into place are meaningless if the food is unsafe when it is delivered.

The best way to improve your confidence is to only choose approved, reputable suppliers, and the only way to feel this confidence is to do some research, meet the supplier, if possible the HACCP team, and develop a relationship with them.

As part of your research, look at their recent inspection reports from bodies such as the Food and Drug Administration, (the FDA), and the US Department of Agriculture, (the USDA). Check to see if their systems are based on Good Manufacturing Practices, (GMP), or Good Agricultural Practices, (GAP).

If they are a distributor, look at the size of their business and, how long they have been trading. You could also ask for details of other operators who use them and who you could speak to. Another way is to ask to speak to their compliance or HACCP manager and ask them about their processes. Ask them what their procedures are if something goes wrong.

Ultimately, you want to be confident that the food you receive is safe.

ACCEPTING A DELIVERY

This is where your staff will start to play a role in protecting food safety.

You may have a dedicated person who deals with deliveries, which is an ideal situation, or it may be whoever is available at the time. This is also perfectly acceptable, however, they all need to understand what to look for, what to check, and also what to record!

Delivery Vehicle


Delivery vehicles used for delivering food should be specially designed for this purpose and must be kept clean. They should also be refrigerated if they carry high-risk TCS Foods or ready-to-eat foods. They should be frozen if delivering frozen food.

A quick visual check will tell you a lot about the supplier. Look for signs of pests, products such as bleach being carried next to food, and signs of damaged or dirty boxes.

Checking a Delivery


You then need to check different details for differing foods, but the key points to look out for are: is the food fresh or in-date, is it at the correct temperature, and is the packaging clean and undamaged?

Make a visual inspection of the delivery as well as a temperature check if any products are frozen or chilled.

In most cases, you will not have the time to check all products, especially if it is a large delivery. With frozen and chilled food, check the temperature as close to the center of the delivery as possible, and also check at a couple of edges. This is where food products are most likely to have a varying or higher temperature.

At this stage, if the person receiving the food is satisfied with the delivery, have them record the temperatures on the delivery note, the time accepted, and the time when placed into storage. Also, make sure they sign and add their name. This way as the manager, you have a clear audit trail.

Deliveries should then be put into storage immediately.

Best Practice


Our suggestion is that with chilled and frozen food, we strongly recommend storing within 15 minutes of delivery. Remember Time and Temperature!

Food Delivery Temperatures


There are recommended delivery temperatures for many products, and we have detailed these in the following table. Download our table and make sure any staff receiving deliveries understand the temperatures they need to check.

Rejecting a Delivery


Always remember, you are the customer. If you are not happy with the delivery and you believe it represents a threat to food safety – REFUSE IT!

You may want to refuse delivery if:

  • Chilled foods are delivered with a temperature above 41°F.
  • Eggs in shells are delivered with a temperature above 45°
  • Frozen food is thawed or partly thawed.
  • Packaging is dirty, wet, or damaged.
  • Cans are dented, bulging, rusty, or leaking.
  • There are signs of mold or other forms of spoilage.
  • An expired date mark where food has gone past use by or expiration date.

Best Practice


If staff are ever unsure and they believe that food safety may have been compromised, they must understand that they can refuse the delivery.

Have them write down the details on the delivery note and if possible inform you when they are about to refuse delivery.

Documents


As we have mentioned, staff need to record any checked temperatures on the delivery note and also the reasons why they have refused delivery.

There will also be certain paperwork that comes with a delivery:

  • Shellfish must have a shell stock identification tag. This will tell you where and when it was harvested and that it is from an approved source, (a reputable supplier).
  • Fish that is eaten raw or partially raw will also come with paperwork that should say it has been frozen correctly and if farm-raised, state it meets FDA standards.
  • With both food products, as soon as you have used or sold the last shellfish or fish, you must keep the paperwork for a further 90 days. (Remember Due Diligence Defense)

Best Practice


If you use a lot of fish or shellfish, it can become a considerable amount of paperwork you are keeping. Many operations take a digital photo of the paperwork and store it electronically.

RECALLS

From time to time, even the most well-run food manufacturer will have a problem. At this stage, they will inform their customers and issue a recall notice.

They may want you to dispose of the food product or want it returned. If this is the case, you need to remove the identified food from your inventory. Place it away from where it is usually stored to avoid any mistakes such as staff using the food, and make sure all staff is informed.

As a further measure, add a label saying DO NOT USE / DO NOT DISCARD.

CHAPTER 5.2

The Journey of Food, Storage and Refrigeration

STORING FOOD

Now you have accepted the delivery, you should make sure that it is correctly stored within 15 minutes.

If it is a large order and you have only one staff member available, make sure they store food in the following order: Chilled and Fresh food, then Frozen food, then Canned and Dry Storage foods, and lastly, non-food items.

Remember Time & Temperature Control and which food products are at-risk from Time & Temperature abuse.

LABELING

Before talking about the types of storage, let’s look at Labeling, Date Marks, and FIFO.

Bulk Items


Quite often, dry products such as pasta, rice, salt, sugar, nuts, wheat, and flour are removed from their original packaging and stored in plastic storage boxes with resealable lids. This is in fact the best way to store bulk products and offers better protection than an opened bag of flour, for example.

If this is how you store food, you must add a label to the storage box, so food products are easily identifiable.

Best Practice


In addition, it is good practice to label any allergens a food product may contain.

A good example is Pasta. You will label it as Pasta, and below add the word, “Wheat” so it is easily identifiable as an allergenic food.

Frozen or Chilled Foods


Again, you may remove outer packaging to help with storage. Make sure you add a label to the storage container with a description that is easily identifiable, and if the product has an expiration date, you must add that as well.

Retail Sale Food Products


If you make meals or food products that are for retail sale, in other words, the consumer will take them home and use them, (a ready-to-eat apple pie, for example), the labeling details need to be more comprehensive.

You will need to add:

  • Name of the Food
  • Ingredients list in descending weight order
  • Any allergenic ingredients
  • Any artificial colors or flavors
  • Your company name and address

DATE MARKING

Date marking is an important way of monitoring and controlling time and temperature. As we have previously mentioned, temperatures below 41°F will slow down bacterial multiplication and kill many bacteria. However, it is important to understand that it does not kill 100% of bacteria and even at low temperatures, bacteria can survive and grow.

There are reported cases of Listeria surviving at temperatures of 35°F!!

With this in mind, the process to protect the food is time. The temperature of the refrigerator is significantly slowing down bacterial multiplication, so the time that food is allowed to stay in the refrigerator before being used or destroyed is the key factor.

If you intend to hold a ready-to-eat TCS food for longer than 24 hours, you MUST label the food. Date of no longer than 7 days must be used and at that time the food must be eaten or destroyed.

As an operation, you may have your own rules on what is included on the label, however, at a minimum, you should state the date prepared and most importantly, the date it must be used.

In addition, if it is a multiple ingredient dish, you must use the earliest “prepared on” or “use by” date of all products in the dish.

Many food products are also bought in and they will include at least one of the following types of date marking: Best Before End / Use By / Display Until.

The most important date is the “Use By” date, and staff must be aware that any food passing its “Use By” date must be destroyed.

Key Point


It is against the law to sell or serve food that has passed the “use by” date or the “discard” time.

STOCK ROTATION – FIFO

Let’s talk about stock rotation or FIFO as it is sometimes called.

Accurate stock rotation is good for food safety as well as for your operation’s profitability, as it will reduce stock wastage.

The Golden Rule is: First In – First Out (FIFO)

Use the stock with the shortest shelf life first, before using a similar product with a longer shelf life.

When storing or displaying food always put the stock with the shortest shelf life in the front. This food should then be used first.

Always check the date mark, packaging, and condition of the food before use.

STORAGE

Dry Goods Storage

  • A dry goods storage area should be clean, cool, dry, and well ventilated.
  • The goods must be kept off the floor (6 inches or more), with sufficient space around to allow air to circulate, for you to check the food and to be able to easily check for signs of pest contamination. Milk crates are an acceptable storage mechanism.
  • Never stack a cardboard box directly on the floor or against a wall. It will attract moisture from the wall or floor and destroy the packaging. Ideally, stack onto shelves.
  • Food must be kept in secure containers, ideally plastic with sealable lids, as many dry foods attract pests.
  • Although dry and canned foods have a long shelf life, you must take care to check and rotate stock regularly. Remember FIFO – First In – First Out.
  • Always put stock with a shorter shelf life in front of stock with a longer shelf life.
  • Stack shelves tidily so you can easily inspect the stock and shelf-life dates.
  • Once a container is open, transfer the remaining product to a rodent-proof container.
  • Label the product with a “Use By” Date
  • Root vegetables, such as potatoes need a cool dark storage area.
  • Keep root vegetables away from other foods to avoid cross-contamination from the soil.

Refrigerators & Freezers


This might seem like a strange thing to say, but how you stack a cooler can also have an impact on food safety. Here are our best practice suggestions:

  • Ready-to-eat foods MUST be stored above any other foods.
  • If you only have one cooler, always store raw meat and poultry on shelves below ready-to-eat and other cooked foods so that blood or juices cannot drip onto other foods and cross-contaminate them.
  • Allow enough room around food for air to circulate, this way, the cooler will be able to operate more efficiently and maintain its target temperature.
  • Do not leave cooler doors open any longer than necessary as the temperature inside the cooler will rise.
  • Unless you have a separate cooler, do not put hot food in a cooler as this will raise the temperature inside and may cause condensation which can cause cross-contamination by dripping onto other food.
  • Always put stock with a shorter shelf life in front of stock with a longer shelf life.
  • Stack shelves tidily so you can easily inspect the stock and shelf-life dates.
  • Keep food in the supplier
    s packaging if it is clean and undamaged and always re-seal opened packaging.
  • If frozen food needs to be re-wrapped, label it clearly and include the date it was frozen.
  • Do not put unwrapped food in the freezer as it could become contaminated, cause contamination, or be damaged by freezer burn.
  • Just as you would in a cooler, place raw foods below ready-to-eat foods to avoid any risk of contamination before the food is frozen.
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