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Protecting Your Stock: Tips for Storing and Transporting Perishables



Dealing with food is one of the world’s most important businesses. Everything has to be subject to the most stringent requirements, as the risk of causing disease by badly handled produce is so great. The stakes are doubled when the food is perishable. If this is a business that you are thinking of entering, be aware that there are serious issues to consider.


Cleanliness


Storage and transport require the same conditions. After all, a van is simply a temporary storage unit while items are moved from one place to another. Of course, all food must be kept in scrupulously clean conditions, but perishable goods are particularly susceptible to infection and therefore the storage or transport facilities must meet the highest standards and be kept thoroughly clean at all times.


Storage units must be regularly checked to ensure that pests cannot gain entry.


It is not enough to clean regularly; it is also important to maintain detailed records of the cleaning regime. Many of those businesses that are penalized for poor hygiene score badly on the record-keeping rather than the practice.


Temperature


All perishable goods contain, or are exposed to, naturally occurring microbes. The dangers to health result when conditions allow bacteria, viruses or fungi to multiply uncontrolled. The key to preventing that growth is temperature. Perishable foods are normally kept chilled or frozen, even when they will be served at room temperature.


The exact temperature that is required is determined by the particular items that are being stored. The Food Standards Agency issues guidelines on correct temperature. The vehicle or storage unit will have to have appropriate insulation for maintaining the optimum temperature without wasting energy. You also need to know how long the perishables can be kept at that temperature before they begin to go off, and have a realistic program to get them to customers in time.


Strict temperature control is essential. A thermometer that you check periodically is not sufficient, and you should have the constant accurate read-out that can be provided by a thermistor, a device which controls the flow of electrical current dependent on the environmental temperature. You can see here for a range of devices.


Contamination


Guarding against contamination is not just a matter of cleanliness; it also needs procedures to prevent items coming into contact with each other.


Appropriate packaging is important. Some items need to be individually wrapped, while others can be packaged together.


If transporting different types of food in the same container, or food and non-food products together, it is important that they are kept separate from each other. If a vehicle is used to carry one product, then reused for a different product, it must be cleaned in between the two. It is especially important that there is no possibility of cross-contamination between raw and ready-to-eat foods.


Food, Glorious Food


Everybody loves food. Those who make it their business to prepare and deliver food do us all a service, and there will always be a need for them. With the right equipment and the right routines, it can be a profitable and safe business.