Reducing Food Waste: Storing Seafood

Lauren Maier on March 14, 2019 at 2:41 PM

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. If you serve seafood on your menu, those products are likely some of the most expensive in your kitchen, but that high cost is passed on to the customer. As such, when your customer is ready to dish out the dough for an expensive entrée, you want to make sure it tastes like it jumped out of the ocean just in time for dinner. Taking these extra steps to ensure prolonged seafood quality is worth the extra effort:

1. Never Let Seafood Sit Out
Fish is a volatile product and starts to lose freshness rapidly once the temperature starts to rise. When food is delivered, ensure that all seafood is first to be put away. When chefs are preparing food, only have them take out what can be prepped within 20 minutes of removal from refrigeration.

2. Automate Temperature Monitoring
Preserving the quality of fresh seafood as long as possible depends on maintaining safe temperature between 32-34°F. Using a smart temperature sensor like VeriTemp can give you peace of mind knowing exactly the moment a temperature is out of range, so you’re never caught off guard with a refrigerator full of stinky fish.

3. Know Your Species
Not all fish are the same, and therefore not all fish should be handled the same. According to Chef’s Resources, “fatty fish tends to spoil faster than less fatty fish. And fish with more bloodline also tend to spoil more rapidly.” Knowing specifics on the preparation of each species of fish you serve is essential for storing and preparing it safely.

4. Store by Cut (and by swimming position!)
While whole fish are best kept stored surrounded by shaved ice, fillets and steaks should never be kept in ice or water uncovered. Wrap fillets and steaks in plastic, to avoid exposing it to cold elements that could damage them. Chef’s Resources recommends storing fish on ice in the same position they swim, as it “allows gravity to have its normal effect upon both tissue and blood lines and results in the least damage to the structure and texture for the flesh.” Chef’s Resources also suggest using a double bin method for all fish storage, “with the top bin having drainage holes to allow ice-melt water to drain.”

Following these tips will ensure that you maximize the quality of your restaurant’s seafood ingredients, so you waste less and your guests enjoy it more. Stay tuned for our next blog post, where we’ll go over dry good storage tips so all your ingredients stay fresh!

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