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Essentials of FIFO

Commentary by Christine Testa, Regional Food Safety Specialist FIFO is a commonsense system that allows you to prepare foods with an optimum nutritional value and quality, along with practicing good food safety procedures. FIFO rotation will also lower your food cost.


Knowing what you have in stock and how fast or slow food items are moving out will ensure that purchasing is efficient and not wasteful. When food items are stored in an organized manner, they are easily identified and tagged in case of a food recall or that occasional customer complaint.



Date all foods located in the dry storage, refrigeration storage and freezer storage areas to ensure FIFO rotation.

A few simple tools are needed:

1. Delivery invoice

2. A permanent marker

3. One able body

A few simple rules to follow:

1. Dry food storage areas should be well organized and maintained in a sanitary manner with plenty of light to monitor stock. Provide receiving dates on all food items including spices and condiments. Properly cover food items and store 6 inches above the floor to prevent harborage of pests.

2. Store chemicals in a separate area below and away from food items.

3. Refrigeration storage areas should be maintained in a sanitary manner, cold holding at 39F or below, with an ambient air thermometer located closest to the door.

4. Opened or prepared ready to eat, potentially hazardous foods should be dated with a made on date and consumed within 7 days or less. Food items must be covered to prevent contamination and comingling of food odors.

5. Frozen foods should be dated when prepared or received. Maintain freezers in a sanitary manner. The air temperature should be at least 0F or below. Develop a manual defrosting schedule if the freezer does not have an automatic defrost cycle. Food items must be wrapped completely to be protected from freezer burn and other contamination

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