8 tips for dry goods storage

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Dry goods storage is a critical aspect of food safety for any business dealing with food products. Dry goods are those that don’t require chilled or frozen storage because they’re unlikely to support the growth of bacteria. These are generally referred to as low-risk foods, which have a longer shelf life than high-risk foods that require strict temperature control.

High risk foods on the other hand pose a greater food safety risk because they provide favourable conditions for bacteria to grow. It is for this reason that high risk foods require strict temperature control.

In the case of low risk foods one or more of the things bacteria need to grow are removed. This is why low risk foods generally have a longer shelf life than high risk foods. Low risk foods will have a Best Before date, as opposed to a Use By date that is found on most high risk foods.

Some examples of low-risk foods include unopened canned goods, bread, biscuits, dried rice, pasta, cereals, flour, and products high in sugar like chocolate, sweets, unopened jams, and preserves. Dry stores may also be used to store equipment, utensils, crockery, and materials for wrapping food. However, it’s essential to keep dry stores free from pests and other sources of contamination.

Low risk foods can be stored at room temperature and do not need to be kept chilled or frozen. This is where dry goods storage comes in. Just because low risk foods won’t support the growth of bacteria they should still be protected from contamination. This includes chemical, physical and allergenic contaminants.

Here are some tips for storing dry goods:

1. Keep them in ventilated and dry conditions

Keep them in ventilated and dry conditions: It’s important to store dry goods in a cool, dry place, away from direct sunlight and sources of heat. Exposure to heat and humidity can cause moisture to develop, leading to spoilage and growth of mould on some products.

2. Cleanliness

The structure of dry stores should permit effective cleaning. This means keeping walls, floors, ceilings, shelving and equipment clean

3. Pest proofing

The law requires that food premises, including dry stores are proofed to prevent pests from gaining access. If dry stores have openable windows or external doors these should be provided with fly screens.

All holes in walls, floors and ceilings should be filled to prevent entry by pests. Doors which do not fit tightly into their frames should have bristle strips fitted. Bear in mind that if a biro pen can fit into a hole or under a door then a mouse could also fit through.

4. Store items off of the floor and away from the walls

It is important to store all food items, equipment and any other items that may come into contact with food off of the floor and away from the walls. This helps prevent dirt from the floor from transferring to the underside of a container, which may then be placed onto a food preparation surface. It also facilitates checking for pests and effective cleaning.

5. Designated area for returns and discarded stock

If you have any food items that are to be discarded or returned to your supplier you do not want these to be mistaken for food that is to be served. Make sure discarded stock or stock to be returned is clearly labelled and placed in a designated area.

6. Regular checks

Regular checks should be carried out to look for signs of pests, to check the standard of cleaning, and to ensure that foods past their Best Before dates have been removed. Whilst it is not generally an offence to sell food past the Best Before date it is good practice for a food business to follow good stock rotation. This means using stock with the shortest date first.

7. Packaging and labelling

Ensure that any open products are sealed or placed into suitably sealed containers. All food items should remain labelled for traceability purposes.

8. Allergen control

Allergenic ingredients should be stored separately and clearly labelled. For example; gluten-free products should be stored away from products containing gluten. This could be in a separate dry store or a separate area of the dry store. There should also be a system in place for dealing with spillages in a way that prioritises the risk of allergen contamination.

In conclusion, dry goods storage is critical to maintaining food safety in any food business. By following these simple rules, you can help prevent contamination and ensure that your dry goods remain safe and of high quality. Remember to keep your dry stores clean, pest-proof, and well-organized to minimize the risk of food contamination.

9. Lighting

Good lighting is important to permit effective cleaning and the monitoring of cleaning standards and for signs of pests.

10. First in first out

First in first out is the golden rule of stock rotation. Ensure that your dry store is organised so that those items with the shortest date can be used first.

In conclusion, dry goods storage is critical to maintaining food safety in any food business. By following these simple rules, you can help prevent contamination and ensure that your dry goods remain safe and of high quality. Remember to keep your dry stores clean, pest-proofed, and well-organised to minimize the risk of food contamination.

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