How to Practice Food Safety With Your Pantry Goods
When people typically think of food safety, raw meat, cross contamination, and safe thawing usually come to mind. For many, the pantry is a safe place to store canned goods and forget about them until you need them.
While most canned goods can be stored for an extended period of time beyond their sell-by date, there are still several food handling safety practices one should follow when stocking their restaurant’s pantry.
What Can You Store in a Pantry?
Pantries are an inviting kitchen space to store goods out of sight, but they aren’t the optimal space for every product like dairy, brown rice, or opened jars of jam and jellies.
However, some of the best things you can store in your pantry include the following products:
- Canned fruits and vegetables
- Dried meats
- Dried fruits and vegetables
- Unripe fruits and vegetables (especially potatoes and onions)
- Baking powders
- Hot sauce
- Soy sauce
- Peanut butter
- Unopened jars
Maintain a Dark and Cool Environment
Keep in mind that while most of the above products will thrive in your pantry, the state of your pantry is what truly determines the longevity of their freshness.
Aside from keeping a clean cabinet, make sure that your pantry is:
- Not located in immediate proximity to a heating appliance
- Not stocked with trash or kitchen cleaning supplies that could contaminate your goods
- Constantly at a cool temperature between 50 and 70 degrees fahrenheit. Any warmer and even canned goods will begin to quickly deteriorate.
Organize Your Pantry By Date
Canned goods naturally have a longer shelf life, with acidic foods lasting up to 18 months beyond their expiration date, and non-acidic foods lasting between two and four years past expiration.
These numbers shouldn’t be permission for your staff to stock the pantry without a plan. Always organize your pantry by date and place older foods at the front of the pantry so they can be put to use without taking a gamble on an overdue “best by” date.
Know When to Discard Canned Goods
As much as we’d love to see canned goods last for years in the pantry, sometimes there are situations where tossing out older pantry goods is essential. If you reach for a can and find that it is cracked, leaking, or bulging out at one side, this means that not only has your canned good been exposed to the elements, but it’s also likely to be spoiled and could cause a deadly bout of botulism.
The risk of exposing patrons to botulism from these types of goods is high, so you always want to ensure that any can you open is sealed and smooth.
Always discard any can that shows these signs of damage and promptly clean up your pantry if there was any sign of spillage.
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