Reliable Commercial Refrigeration
Essential for Your Business
When it comes to running a successful business in the food service industry, reliable refrigeration is essential. Your refrigeration is critical for a variety of reasons including food safety, cost savings, customer satisfaction, regulatory compliance and energy efficiency. Having dependable refrigeration equipment directly impacts your profitability, your reputation and the health and well-being of your customers. Therefore, understanding what refrigeration is, what makes refrigeration reliable and what it’s designed to protect food products from is key.
Understanding the Basics of Refrigeration
Refrigeration is a process that involves the transfer of heat from one location to another, using a refrigerant that absorbs heat from the space to be cooled and then releases it to the environment outside the refrigerated space. The refrigeration process is achieved by a mechanical system that involves several key components working together in a closed cycle. The main components of a refrigeration system are the compressor, condenser, expansion valve, and evaporator. The refrigerant flows through these components in a closed loop, absorbing and releasing heat as it goes.
What makes Refrigeration Reliable
Reliable commercial refrigeration refers to refrigeration systems that are efficient at operating dependably and consistently, maintaining a desired temperature range and preserving the safety and quality of the products being refrigerated. A reliable refrigeration system is one that can be trusted to function as intended, without unexpected downtime or temperature fluctuations that could lead to spoilage or loss of product.
Several factors contribute to the reliability of a refrigeration systems, including the quality of equipment, proper installation, professional and regular maintenance of all the components, and temperature monitoring. An experienced refrigeration service provider can help ensure that these factors are addressed, and that the refrigeration system is maintaining consistent desired temperatures.
Preventing Food borne Pathogens & Spoilage Microbes
According to the USDA, Food Safety and Inspection Service, “In the right environment, microorganisms and bacteria grow very rapidly, increasing in numbers to the point where some can cause serious illness. Harmful microorganisms grow most rapidly in the range of temperatures between 40°F and 140°F, the ‘Danger Zone,’ and some double in number in as little as 20 minutes. A properly sized refrigeration system, set and efficiently monitored at 39°F or below will protect most foods.”
Taking a deeper dive, it’s important to have a clear understanding of the two different types of microorganisms that threaten food products. Also important is how strict adherence to all safety standards, including proper refrigeration and accurate temperature monitoring, can help prevent these unwanted organisms from putting customers as risk for illness and disappointment.
Pathogens- cause foodborne illness.
Spoilage microbes- cause foods to decay and develop displeasing smells, flavors, and consistencies.
A pathogen is defined as, microorganisms that causes disease or illness to its host and prioritizes survival and reproduction. Foodborne pathogens specifically include bacteria, viruses, and parasites. Foodborne pathogens cause illnesses, sometimes severe enough to be fatal. The most common foodborne pathogens are a mixture of bacteria, viruses, and parasites: bacteria, such as Escherichia coli (E. coli), Salmonella, Listeria and Campylobacter; viruses, such as norovirus; and parasites, such as Giardia and Toxoplasma gondii. However, there are about 200 other known food-borne pathogens in the world. Unfortunately, these organisms cannot be seen, smelled, or tasted, and it often takes very few of them to infect a person.
Conversely Spoilage microbes do not carry illness; they are a grouping of microorganisms consisting of bacteria, yeast and mold. cause food to deteriorate, spoil and rot which leads to unpleasant odors, flavors, and textures. These one-celled, microorganisms can cause fruits and vegetables to get mushy or slimy, or meat to develop a bad odor. Microbial spoilage bacteria if present, can grow rapidly at varied temperatures. Most people find spoiled food products unappetizing and would not eat them. However, if they did, they probably wouldn’t get sick, but they likely wouldn’t enjoy it!
With foodborne pathogens and spoilage bacteria, simply put, it comes down to a matter of customer safety and food quality for food service providers, whose bottom lines and reputations are at stake. Except for true farm-to-table establishments, most food service providers do not have control over the safety of their food products across the entire food chain. From production to processing to distribution, it is impossible to know if food products have pathogens or spoilage microbes on or in them. Most food service providers only have control over the storage and preparation part of the food chain. Therefore, maintaining proper refrigeration temperatures and strictly enforcing other food safety standards is the best defense for reducing the risk and liability associated with food borne illness and spoilage.
Maintaining Temperature for Optimum Food Safety and Flavor
While there are some exceptions, commercial coolers and refrigeration equipment housing food products, should ideally be set between 34°F -39°F. That window is very small, a mere 5 degrees! However, setting a dial for a specific temperature does not automatically mean that temperature will be maintained. In order to maintain set temperatures, and protect the safety and flavor of food products, there are three components that are crucial:
Professional Preventative Maintenance:
The first component in maintaining refrigeration temperatures is properly servicing refrigeration equipment through professional and preventative maintenance. The refrigeration industry standard is 4 maintenance services performed per year, per system. Proper cleanings will allow units to function efficiently as they work hard to ward off the heat from commercial kitchens. Another benefit to preventative maintenance is technicians can identify small issues and repair them, long before they become major problems.
2. Efficient Kitchen Management:
The second component that plays a significant role in maintaining refrigeration temperatures is efficient kitchen management. Professional kitchens should manage and encourage good practices such as keeping cooler doors closed tightly, limiting door-open times, adhering to the first in first out rule (or FIFO), not placing high-temperature items in the cooler, immediately reporting any broken parts or refrigeration issues and concerns to management etc.
3. Proactive Temperature Monitoring:
The third component is proactive temperature monitoring. It has been said. “You can’t manage what you don’t measure.” Having the ability to measure refrigeration equipment temperatures in real-time, gives one the superior edge to protect their food products, before an emergency happens. Regular temperature monitoring should not be confused with the advantages of constant temperature monitoring, a proactive approach to sustaining precise temperatures.
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