Bags of sugar

 

Dry goods, bulk goods, and other types of less-perishable food items are an often-overlooked factor in food storage security.

Much attention is paid to the items that need additional factors to be stored safely, such as anything in cold storage, but dry goods storage is equally important if perhaps not as visible and glamorous.

Even with a longer shelf life than other types of food, dry goods need to be stored in a secure and safe environment to ensure both product safety and customer safety when they reach their final destination. Canned goods, jarred goods, and the like are equally susceptible to spoilage and health risks as other types of food and need to be handled just as safely to keep them safe and prevent contamination or spoiling.

Here’s four important tips to keep in mind when storing dry goods long-term:

 

Size

Food storage requires a pretty hefty footprint, from refrigerated areas to canned goods storage, and dry goods storage has a similar need for space (and spacing). There’s more dry goods available today on the market than ever before, from utensils and cookware to prepackaged foods, spices, and more, and to prevent products from cross-contaminating they shouldn’t touch each other.

To that end, the size of the room is critical. Your dry goods storage space not only needs enough room for the individual goods, it needs to be able to accommodate the food storage and wire shelving you need for storing these individual items. If you’re up for some math, the FDA provides some guidelines (such as 15 inch clearance between shelves) and a formula you can follow to determine the amount of shelving you need: depth of the shelves in feet times the clearance between shelves in feet, and the 80% effective capacity of each shelves’ height (or DxHxC).

 

Storage needs

Once your size plans are mapped out, you need to figure out what you can use to store the goods. Different types of items may need different storage methods—the FDA recommends germ free plastic shelving for certain items and rust proof metal shelving for others, and the difference can be critical for various types of products.

You’ll also want to leave some extra storage aside for damaged goods that need to be returned or reshelved. These goods, especially if their containers are damaged, can quickly become a home for germs and vermin and should be stored away from the active, sellable goods as quickly as possible.

 

Environmental control

For certain types of dry goods, the room itself can pose additional risk to the safety of your goods—and, by extension, the safety of your customers.

All food storage rooms need to be properly sealed and kept away from vermin like rats and insects who would love to make a home inside those containers. This will require frequent re-inspection of corners, doorways, and anything else that may lose its seal and allow unwelcome diners to join your storage area.

The environment itself can be a hazard as well—sunlight, humidity, and other environmental concerns can affect your dry goods. Many different dry goods will offer different specific storage needs, but a good rule of thumb is to prevent direct sunlight exposure and prevent humidity/inconsistent temperatures throughout the storage area. While the exact temperature can vary wildly depending on what part of the country you’re in, a good rule of thumb is to keep it as cool and as dry as possible.

 

Product rotation

Finally, knowing how long to keep your products in the active rotation will go a long way towards keeping your products and your customers as safe as possible. Ensure all containers and products are dated, use shelving labels to sort and date everything, and employ FIFO (first-in, first-out) to make sure your goods are being disposed of properly and sorted out correctly. Even if this means an increase in disposed goods, the safety you provide to your staff and customers will be well worth it.

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