Our technicians (and health inspectors) have seen a lot of this lately: food at incorrect temperatures in a perfectly good walk-in refrigerator or freezer. Why? Because the food containers are either too close together or are stacked too high and are blocking the air circulation fans.
The keys to circulation:
- Don’t over-stuff the refrigerator. Cold air must circulate to keep food safe. If you had a recent delivery, make sure that the product is stored properly, below the stack limit line. You can actually map the “sweet spot” for cooling within a walk-in refrigerator by using a smoke tube and finding the area where the air has the greatest turbulence. Leave the spots of least turbulence for produce and other non-potentially hazardous foods. Allow at least 3 inches of space between containers.
- Find the cold spots. Make a temperature map of the inside of storage and walk-in refrigerators by placing several thermometers throughout the unit and take readings at 10- to 15-minute intervals during periods of temperature recovery. The coldest section of the refrigerator should be used for potentially hazardous foods. Generally, it is warmer near the door and near the ceiling and cooler at the rear of the box and near the floor.
- Leave extra room near the ceiling and near the floor. Shelves must be no closer than six inches from the floor to ease cleaning under racks. And allow plenty of headroom in the cooler to ensure adequate air circulation for steady temperatures and lower utility bills.
And a bonus tip: Labels, Labels, Labels. There is no such thing as too many labels when it comes to food storage. Food is something you definitely don’t want to be making mistakes with. Sometimes, one kind of food looks very much like another kind of food. And on the surface, old milk looks the same as fresh milk. Make sure everything is clearly labeled with a name and date.
Of course, proper maintenance is the key to keeping your equipment in tip top shape and reducing total cost of ownership. Call us today to learn about our planned maintenance service 919-773-9223