How to Keep Food Fresh for Longer

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When it comes to fresh fruit, vegetables, meat, and poultry, food shoppers have high expectations. Supermarket owners and store managers need to ensure food safety and quality whilst preventing high food spoilage costs. There’s also the Consumer Protection Act, competitive supermarket environment, and the stores reputation to consider. Here’s how to properly use supermarket refrigeration to maximise the shelf life of fresh meat and produce in-store…

supermarket-refrigerator

Keeping fruit and veggies fresher

The way fresh fruit and vegetables are arranged in the supermarket refrigerator or veggie counter determines how long they remain fresh. Once picked, fruit and veggies give off ethylene, a natural gas which prematurely ripens certain fresh produce – apples, broccoli, asparagus, leafy greens, cucumber, potatoes, gem squash, and watermelon are ethylene-sensitive and should be kept separate from fruits that ripen quickly, like bananas, avocados, mangoes, tomatoes, melons, nectarines and pears.  A good rule of thumb for tomatoes, onions, and potatoes is to display in a cool dry area. Unripe fruits should be arranged in the veggie counter and refrigerated once ripe. Citrus fruits – lemon, limes, and oranges – can be kept at room temperature for at least a week, but if placed in a wall chiller will last longer. Broccoli, carrots and lettuce spoil once picked so ensure they’re packaged in perforated plastic bags and immediately refrigerated.

Preserving dairy and eggs

Most supermarkets don’t refrigerate eggs as they have a shelf life of up to three weeks. However, if they’re refrigerated from farm to store they can last up to seven weeks! Do note:  Refrigeration must be constant or else the eggs may sweat when exposed to warmer temperatures. Dairy products such as milk, cream, yoghurt and cheese require refrigeration temperatures below four degrees Celsius and expiry dates should be carefully monitored. If tightly wrapped, hard cheeses like cheddar and gouda will last for weeks, whereas softer cheeses – cottage cheese and cream cheese, roughly two weeks. Although it’s not ideal to freeze dairy products, thanks to freezers, ice cream has a shelf life of between two and four months.

How to store fresh fish

Proper handling and display of seafood is crucial in order to prevent customers contracting foodborne illnesses or food poisoning. It’s best to source fish from reputable suppliers who operate according to food safety standards. This way you’ll know that the fish is in prime condition from sea to store. A fish case is best for refrigeration and display purposes as it maintains a high humidity level. Remember to clean the fish case often and check the drains to ensure proper drainage! To maintain ideal temperatures and for food safety, the fish should be displayed on a thick bed of fresh ice and kept for a maximum of three days.

Meat and poultry refrigeration

Fresh cuts of meat such as steak, chops and roasts should remain perfectly fresh for up to three days when displayed in a meat case or wall chiller. For ground meats and poultry, a maximum of two days is best.  When vacuum packed or wrapped in oxygen–proof transparent film, this further prevents the growth of microorganisms and secondary contamination.

Refrigeration that keeps food fresh

Just Refrigeration supplies a range of supermarket refrigeration equipment for the commercial refrigeration market. Some of our SABS-approved products include cold rooms, fridges, deli freezers and more.  Contact one of our branches today for top quality commercial refrigeration equipment.

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