Walk-in coolers can be the most overlooked piece of equipment in your facility, even though it’s one of the most used. Most restaurants carry a high dollar amount of product in their walk-in cooler and freezer. In many operations, the top of the walk-in becomes a convenient place to store dry goods and consumables like plastic cups or to-go boxes. While I understand that sometimes you “do what you gotta do,” it’s import to remember a couple things.
Storing items on top of the walk-in can decrease the airflow to self contained refrigeration units. This reduction in air-flow can increase the heat bubble around your unit’s cooling system. Over time it will have to work harder, decreasing the life of the unit. In many cases, it can cause the unit to fail entirely. As good as foam to-go cups are at keeping beverages warm or cold, they do an even better job of holding heat around the compressor.
Another issue with storing items on top of the walk-in is cleanliness. Even though items are stored in boxes that won’t come in contact with food, it increases the chance that contaminants will come in contact with food. As much as I hate to admit it, more than once I’ve seen workers pulling to go cups from the top of the walk-in, just as someone pushes a cart of back-ups to the front line. You can see the debris fall from the top of the walk-in and contact the food that is about to be served to your customer! Be honest, how often do you clean the top of your walk-in? You can use degreasers and general cleaners to help with this task, but how often will you do it? Sadly, it’s more likely that the floor of your facility is cleaner than the top of your walk-in. Consider adding a walking check of the top of the walk-in to your daily routine. Make sure that dry goods, consumables and other things are not stored on top. (more…)