Building A Food Safety Strategy For Your Cool Side

Article by Jeff Becker, VP-Sales & Branch Development, Day & Nite / All Service

Every day, leaders face many risk factors in the management of their restaurant and foodservice operations. Whether it is financial, human capital, safety or facilities related, these risks create distractions that dilute a leader’s ability to focus on the core vision of their restaurant or foodservice establishment.

Having spent over 20 years in the foodservice industry, I have been on the front lines and led teams who have had to manage what can sometimes feel like a potential tidal wave of risk. Great leaders understand the value in proactively mitigating risks enabling them to focus on their vision. In order to achieve this vision, constant change is inevitable which is brought on by a level of current-state dissatisfaction. 

During my career, an area that I have seen greatly improve is in the accountability surrounding food safety. I think back to behavior changes involved with the initial battles of holding a staff accountable to consistently filling out a log to visiting operations and being surprised not to find a detailed tracking mechanism in place.

Many of us have experienced the loss of product as result of our refrigeration failing.  Financially, this is a material risk that all operators face. After a personal experience that I had, I began looking into preventative maintenance for my refrigeration equipment. I was greatly dissatisfied with the financial outcome of this loss and knew that I needed to create a change. This preventative maintenance approach enabled me to effectively minimize this risk category while improving my total cost of ownership. Operators play a part in this process too and should be aware of the following key areas when maintaining their

Pan Chillers

Theses units are not designed to actually chill a product, but instead limit temperature loss. When utilizing this equipment, it is important that products are already chilled to the appropriate temperature, have a product rotation schedule and actively record temperatures of products stored in these units.

NYSRA March 2019 728×90

Airscreen Coolers

The majority of these units have bottom-mounted condensing units and are placed in high traffic areas.  This creates an increased build-up of dust and dirt causing the units not to run optimally.  It is important for staff to inspect and clean these areas, however preventative maintenance is important for this equipment to run optimally. 

Reach-In Coolers

Many of these units have top-mounted condensers.  In locations with limited storage, I have seen operators use sheet pans to cover the tops and store products above these units. This causes a strain on the condenser due to a lack of airflow.

Walk-In Coolers / Freezers

These units should never be used as blast chillers, or to greatly cool down products at a rapid pace. This will have an adverse impact on the equipment as the steam creates condensation, which will create ice on the back of evaporator coils and fan blades causing the compressor to strain. When chilling large quantities, an ice bath or blast chiller is the appropriate process.

Whether it is cleaning gaskets, the visual inspection of ice bins or thermometer calibration, there are a number of additional activities that operators should take to greatly minimize their risk in this category. 

As industry leaders, I believe that there is a responsibility to your teams and your customers to provide the safest and most efficient operating environments in order to deliver on your stated vision. I look forward to continuing this discussion next month as I focus on ideas that will help provide you with a vision for better outcomes for your kitchen equipment.

Jeff Becker is the VP-Sales & Branch Development, Day & Nite / All Service. Prior to joining the company he served in several roles with Aramark. You can forward service questions to him at