Cold temperatures keep foods fresh and inhibit the growth of most bacteria. However, food spoilage microorganisms can still grow and multiply slowly over time, so there is a limit to the length of time various foods will stay fresh in the cooler.

Follow food storage guidelines to help keep perishable foods safe. Always refrigerate perishable food within 2 hours (1 hour when the temperature is above 90ºF). Use a refrigerator/freezer thermometer to ensure your refrigerator is at 40ºF or below and the freezer is at 0ºF or below.

Repeated handling can introduce bacteria into food preparation areas. Place meat, poultry and seafood items on the lowest shelf to minimize leakage onto other stored foods. Be sure stored foods are tightly wrapped. When using a sealable bag, try to squeeze out as much air as possible. If using a plastic container, choose the smallest container that will hold your food.

Clean the cooler regularly to remove spoiled food, odors and bacteria. Do not overload the cooler, as air must circulate freely to cool all foods evenly.

Avoid cross-contamination
In the bakery, cross contamination is an increasingly important issue to monitor. A sensitive ingredient is a food allergen or food ingredient which can cause illness or death in some of your customers. Major allergen categories are fish, peanuts, wheat, soy, tree nuts (such as almonds, filberts/hazelnuts, pecans, pistachios and walnuts), eggs, milk/dairy, and shellfish (such as shrimp, crab, or lobster). Other sensitive ingredients include lactose and gluten.

Be aware of sensitive ingredients and the bakery products where they may be found. Some customers will ask you for this information to make informed decisions. Know where to find labels or product ingredient information to give them.

Cross contamination is the transfer of a sensitive ingredient from one source that may cause harm to another source.

Store sensitive ingredients in a separate area away from non-sensitive ingredients.

Store sensitive ingredients and foods tightly covered in dedicated containers. Use dedicated scoops or measuring devices.

Label all containers with the product’s name, sell-by and use-by dates. Clearly label containers with the names of sensitive raw ingredients and finished products.

Wash hands and change gloves before and after handling foods.

Use separate equipment and work areas for sensitive foods. If that’s not possible, throughly clean and sanitize work surfaces, cutting boards, and production equipment and utensils between production of all foods.

Use a dedicated fryer for non-sensitive ingredient items to avoid cross-contamination. Oils, such as peanut and soy, can also cause allergic reactions.

Be careful when reworking product to avoid introduction of a sensitive ingredient. To rework means incorporating an existing food as an ingredient in a new prepared product.

Avoid spills and splashes from sensitive ingredients.

Source: International Dairy-Deli-Bakery Association