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Anatomy of... Storage & Handling

Anatomy Of A Well-Designed Cold Storage

Shelving is one of those equipment purchases that can easily fall into the commodity column. But the organization and upkeep of your walk-in coolers and freezers has a very direct impact on the quality of and, more, the safety of the food you serve your customers. The materials, coatings, structure, spacing, mobility, accessories and cleanability of the shelves you choose for your walk-ins can make all the difference in how well your food keeps, how efficiently you use food before it expires, and how safely, cleanly and visibly it’s stored. Many thanks to Metro shelving and Mike Poehnelt, Unit Manager, University of Wisconsin-Madison, Madison, Wis., for arranging this photo of the new shelves in a walk-in at Liz’s Market at Waters Residence Hall.

  • Shelves need to be 6 in. off the floor and no products can store directly on the floor. Using a dunnage rack for the bottom shelf can provide a step to reach items on top shelves.
  • Store heavy items on lower and middle racks, lighter, less-used items high and high-use items at levels where they’re easiest to access.
  • If space is really tight, you can opt for shelving that shares posts or look into high-density shelving on a track.
  • If possible, designate room to park speed racks (foods ready to cook/serve) off to the side so that employees don’t have to move them around to get to stored goods.
  • Shelving must be NSF-rated for use in wet environments which include coolers, freezers and dishwashing areas.
  • Labeling systems organize foods, but more importantly, enhance food safety. Labels on shelves help employees remember to set raw foods apart from cooked and to set proteins below produce. Food labels with dates ensure first-in/first-out use.
  • Removable shelving mats that pop out for cleaning are smart. Slotted shelving aids cold air circulation and temperature control.
  • Storing items in their shipping boxes is common, but not necessarily ideal. Better to invest in clear containers that let employees identify goods quickly. Hard lids let you stack containers and protect contents from cross contamination.

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