It’s no secret that food waste in the United States is a huge problem: for both businesses and people. According to NPR, “as much as 10 percent of the food a restaurant buys ends up in landfills.” From a business perspective, 10% of food thrown away drives up operating costs for the restaurant and translates directly to the bottom line. From a people perspective, this food is thrown away despite the millions of individuals in the US facing hunger and food insecurity.
While a lot of the food waste that happens in restaurants is inevitable (like when a customer is unhappy with their order and sends it back), restaurants can minimize it by ensuring all food products are properly stored. Meat and poultry are likely some of the more expensive ingredients in your kitchen; so following these tips can keep your food fresh and safe, and keep you from throwing money in the trash:
1. Ensure you’re storing meat and poultry at the proper temperatures
Meat products are very temperature sensitive and need to be refrigerated below 40°F at all times. To ensure temperatures don't creep up during the busiest parts of the day, store meat in the back of the fridge. That way, your meat stays cold even when the door is being opened frequently. It’s also important to note that meat products must be stored at the bottom of a fridge shared with other produce/ingredients to prevent drippings from contaminating them.
2. Not all meat products are created equal—store each one properly!
Are you storing beef, veal, poultry, pork, something else? Depending on the type of meat and the cut, certain products need to be stored differently than others. This resource from Professional Secrets offers product-specific storage tips so you can keep every food fresh.
3. If you must freeze, consider vacuum sealing
Obviously fresh is always preferred in restaurant settings, but if you find yourself with excess product and don’t want food to go to waste, use a vacuum sealer to preserve the freshest taste. If left out in the open, meat will oxidize rapidly and go bad faster. Vacuum sealing prevents any frozen food from getting freezer burn.
These storage tips not only help you save money, but also are instrumental in keeping your restaurant’s patrons safe from foodborne illness. Our next installment will provide tips on how to store seafood to maximize freshness and taste.