Food Safety During Summer

The recent (still happening) heat wave across the US reminded me that it is well past time to do the summer check on all cooling and refrigeration equipment. Most smart franchisees and small food shops will have this booked in for that start of every summer. If you are not one of them, call your service provider and change the inspection times to coincide with the summer and winter season beginnings.

There are several reasons to ensure your refrigeration and cooling systems are at their optimum during the summer and the first and most important is the safety of your customers by ensuring that all equipment can do the job of keeping foods at the correct temperature all day and every day. In other words ensuring full food safety.

All foods are at a higher risk during hot weather. Restaurant refrigeration systems struggle to keep safe temperatures, delivery trucks are even worse and the processing factories have the same heat problems as the restaurants Summer is also the time of insects which can find their way into your restaurant and food, so pest control will have to be stepped up.

Refrigeration will be working at it’s hardest over the summer so ensure that the coolant is recharged and all condensers are clean and free of dust. You may have to move the equipment, get into crawl spaces or ceilings to do this but it is worth it as it will help the overall efficiency of the system. Ensure that your service company also does this as part of your normal service so that you only have to check it once or twice in between services.

Do the same for your air conditioning so as to ensure a comfortable environment for your customers. Good A/C also assists refrigeration as a cool area surrounding the refrigeration system assists with good airflow around motors and condensers. Also a good idea to check that there is nothing blocking air flow near any of the motors as this could cause serious overheating and may even cause a burnt out motor, which could lead to a lot more serious problems like spoiled food and even food poisoning.

The start of summer is also a good time to do a complete strip down, clean and sanitize on all fridges as well as checking door seals for cracks and tears and anything else that will affect the running of your equipment. It is also a great time to schedule a full team meeting on the importance of food safety and to stress sanitation, FIFO and all the other things that can be impacted by the hot weather.

I have found over the years that normally the only time I have had any problems with equipment in summer was when regular servicing had not been done. It ends up costing significantly more in call out fees, wasted food, and unhappy customers because  equipment always breaks down when it is at full stress and that is usually on the weekend when call out fees are higher, you have more perishables in stock and more customers to be angry at you when the A/C breaks down or the ice cream is soft.