Master-Bilt Refrigeration News & Product Information
Spend Less on Food With Optimized Refrigeration
With the rising cost of food, restaurant owners and other foodservice professionals need to make sure they are getting the most bang for their buck. While there are many ways to stretch a food budget, avoiding spoilage ranks at the top. And one of the best ways to protect perishables is making sure refrigeration equipment is functioning at its peak.
Today there are certain features built into most refrigeration equipment to help prevent spoilage. Electronic controllers, for example, have built-in alarms to warn when reach-in doors are left open or when inside temperatures exceed a set point. These controllers are a standard component in numerous models these days. If a service issue arises, controllers display error codes to enable a technician to quickly resolve the problem and avoid prolonged downtime. See how to adjust setpoints on a typical controller here.
Controller types range from the built-in cabinet controllers to more elaborate ones typically used in walk-in coolers and freezers. These walk-in systems are usually optional and provide user control over a wide range of settings. Software loaded on each controller allows users or technicians to monitor data and program setpoints over the internet. Constant data access makes it possible for users to gauge a walk-in refrigeration system’s performance and ward off potential issues before they happen.
Another helpful feature found on most glass door merchandisers and walk-ins is an adjustable tension control to make sure the doors are closing all the way. At times, doors may lose closing tension resulting in openings that allow warmer outside air to get inside and cause spoilage. For doors equipped with a tension control, it’s a simple matter to keep the door closed properly. Usually, the control is located in the bottom hinge of a door. Look for a screw in the front of the control and, using a screwdriver, turn the screw until the door is fully closed. See how to adjust a typical tension control here.
Walk-in entry doors equipped with adjustable hinge plates can also be re-aligned when needed by loosening hinge screws, shimming and leveling the door and tightening the screws back. For more on adjustable hinge plates, see the “Hinge Plates Help Hold The Cold” article in the April 2014 Cool It! issue.
While not a standard feature, refrigerated drawers on prep units can also help hold in the cold. These drawers act like separate compartments, keeping meats and other items sealed to maximize storage time.
One of the most efficient ways to avoid spoilage, as well as potential bacterial contamination, is to use a blast chiller. Blast chillers and blast chiller/freezers have gained popularity recently due to stricter health codes and the wide range of model sizes and types now available.
Blast chillers are designed to chill product to lower than 40°F in 90 minutes or less improving food safety by minimizing microbial activity. By the way, the same reduction in microbial activity that improves food safety also improves shelf life up to a solid five days. Another economical consideration with blast chillers is that food items can be purchased in bulk and frozen until needed (again usually up to five days).
In addition to utilizing spoilage-reducing equipment features and options, here are a few more pointers:
- Cleaning a cabinet or merchandiser’s condenser coil at least once every three months will reduce wear on the compressor and prevent refrigeration system failure. See tips on how to clean a typical coil here.
- Make sure there are no cold air leaks around cabinet or walk-in doors and that door gaskets are not split or otherwise damaged. Most gaskets are easily removed and replaced if necessary.
- If walk-in entry doors have to be open for long periods, consider installing vinyl strip curtains or doors to help keep cold air inside.
- Make sure walk-in coolers and freezer refrigeration systems are properly sized for the application. For example, if users are frequently adding items in the walk-in that are at room temperature or higher, make sure the refrigeration system can handle the load of the extra heat introduced by these items.
Foodservice professionals face countless challenges every day but, by selecting the right refrigeration equipment and performing occasional preventative maintenance, they can ease one of the biggest worries: food costs.