Restaurants rely on walk in coolers to preserve the freshness of their ingredients. With proper cleaning and maintenance, they can serve as a sanitary way to have prepped ingredients on hand for busy lunch rushes and dinner services. Neglecting to clean the cooler can lead to problems, however. Despite the colder temperature, pests will still be attracted to the smell of spoiling produce and meat. Because insecticides cannot be used in preparation areas, only a solid integrated pest management strategy will keep the area insect free.
Here's how to properly maintain a walk-in cooler:
According to the Washington Food Coalition, organization is just as important as cleaning. Food that is stacked too close together can raise the temperature of the cooler, which could cause food to spoil faster. Likewise, raw meat needs to be stored away from produce.
Taking a daily inventory is necessary because one piece of bad fruit or produce can cause others to go bad. Fruit flies can infest whole boxes of fruit, meaning they have to be tossed away. Therefore, anything that is beginning to go bad should be thrown away before it has the chance of attracting insects. Large infestations will require the intervention of a professional pest control agency.
Staff should check the temperature of the walk-in cooler every day, according to National Resource Management Incorporation. A shift of even ten degrees in either direction could ruin the food. Condensation build up can likewise harm ingredients and should be wiped up before it attracts mold.
Spills should be cleaned up with soap and water only. Chemicals tarnish metal surfaces and often aren't safe enough to be used near food. Soap and water will clean up the spill and deter pests from infesting the area. If food and water are out of reach, insects will have no reason to enter the cooler.
Most restaurants will only need to deep clean their walk-in coolers once a year if they practice daily maintenance. SRC Refrigeration recommended cleaning the evaporator coils annually. This prevents sediment build up which can cause inefficient cooling. Door gaskets should also be cleaned with soap and water to prevent the buildup of mold.
Maintaining a clean walk-in cooler with keep pests away and keep food fresh longer.