Dry storage is where you store foods that don’t require time-temperature controls for safety.
This includes items like cereals, flour, grains, canned foods, and other packaged foods.
Dry storage is also where you store single-service items like disposable utensils, containers, straws, and plastic wrap.
To keep these items safe, there are certain best practices you must follow.
This article explains everything you need to know about food safety guidelines for dry storage.
Food safety guidelines for dry storage
Here are the best food safety practices for dry storage (1):
Keep items off the floor
Just as you should never store items on the fridge or freezer floor, you also shouldn’t store items on the floor in dry storage.
Storing items on the floor can easily contaminate them and make it difficult to properly clean the floors.
Therefore, you must keep all food and non-food items like single-use utensils and napkins at least 6 inches from the floor.
In some settings, like nursing homes, you may also need to keep food at least 18 inches from the ceiling to prevent the obstruction of the sprinklers in the event of a fire.
Label and date
Labeling and dating aren’t just for food you keep in cold storage.
Always label any food not in its original container with its common name so you or your coworkers don’t mistake the food for a different one, which could lead to cross-contact.
This rule only applies to food or ingredients that aren’t easily recognizable or could be mistaken for a different one like sugar and flour.
It’s also good practice to mark foods the day that you receive them so you can organize them in a way that ensures the food that has been stored the longest is the next food used.
This is known as the FIFO — or first in, first out — method.
The FIFO method reduces the risk of using or selling a product that is past its use-by or expiration date while also decreasing food waste.
In some instances, manufacturers may send products with an earlier expiration or use-by date than the products that you currently have in stock, so you can’t always rely on when you receive the product.
Therefore, always cross-check the use-by or expiration date with when you received the product.
Maintain proper temperature and airflow
Although the food in dry storage is not time-temperature controlled, you must still ensure the area doesn’t get too warm.
There is no specific temperature at which you must maintain the dry storage area but between 50ºF and 70ºF (10ºC and 21ºC) is ideal.
Nursing homes are required to maintain their dry storage in this temperature range.
Use wire shelving and avoid stocking food too close together to ensure good airflow.
Never store chemicals
Never store chemicals near or in the same area as food or single-service utensils.
Doing so increases the risk of a chemical hazard.
Always store sanitizers, detergents, and other chemicals in designated areas, such as a utility room.
Keep the area clean
Cleanliness is key to preventing food contamination.
You don’t need to sanitize the dry storage area but you should regularly wash the floors and dust the shelves and food products.
Don’t forget to dust light fixtures and vents as these items can easily accumulate dirt and dust.
Keeping your dry storage area clean reduces the risk of contamination from dirt and other debris as well as from pests like rodents and cockroaches.
To keep your dry storage area safe, store food off the floor, label and date food items, and maintain a proper temperature and airflow. Never use dry storage to store chemicals, and always keep the area clean to reduce the risk of contamination.
The bottom line
Dry storage is where you store foods that don’t require time-temperature controls and single-service items like napkins and disposable utensils.
To keep these items safe in dry storage, keep them off the floor, label and date them, and maintain the area at a proper temperature with good airflow.
Keep the area clean to reduce the risk of contamination from dirt, debris, and pests, and never use your dry storage area to store chemicals.
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