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Food Storage and Deliveries

14 April 2023

Proper food storage and deliveries play an important role in ensuring that the food remains safe to eat. Existing food businesses which intend to start delivering food orders need to consider any new or different risks posed by this change in operation. They should adapt their Food Safety Management System to make sure food placed on the market remains safe to eat. Businesses that already deliver food, directly to the customer or to another business, must ensure uninterrupted safe food handling practices.


Food Deliveries

It is important that food is purchased from reliable suppliers. ‘Due diligence‘ demands that care be taken on purchase handover. When food is delivered, a person responsible for the receipt of the food should check:

  • Quality of the food.
  • Evidence of damage by pets.
  • Evidence of damage due to food spoilage.
  • Evidence of contamination.
  • That the items are well within the date.
  • refrigerated or frozen foods are at the correct temperature.

Always and without any doubt reject any food that you are not happy with and return it to the supplier! Always make sure that the transfer time after purchase of frozen or chilled foods is as short as possible, preferably in cool bags or boxes and that the food is stored in the refrigerator or freezer in the shortest possible time. Remember:

  • Frozen food deliveries must be kept at –18°C or below.
  • Refrigerated food deliveries must be kept between 0°C and 5°C.
  • Hot food deliveries must be kept at 63°C or above.


Food Storage and Deliveries – Spoilage

Food is spoiled when it is unfit for human consumption. The main causes of food spoilage are usually the following:

  • Microbial and enzyme activity – this can adversely change a food’s colour, taste, smell, appearance or texture, e.g. moulds and yeasts.
  • Chemical contamination – food has come into contact with substances not intended for human consumption, e.g. cleaning chemicals or insect sprays.
  • Physical contamination – undesirable foreign objects have contaminated food, e.g. human hair or food pests.
  • When food is spoiled, always label it ‘Unable for Human Consumption‘ and store it in a designated area away from other food.


‘Use By’ and ‘Best Before’ Dates

Most food packages are labelled with a ‘Use By‘ or ‘Best Before‘ date. It is an offence to serve food that has exceeded its use by date. Such food should be discarded or clearly marked ‘Unfit for Human Consumption‘. ‘Best Before‘ dates are often an indication that the food will be at its premium quality if stored correctly until that date.


Dry Stores

Not all food must be kept refrigerated or heated. Some food can be kept in dry stores. However, many dried or dehydrated foods such as milk powder, powdered eggs, etc. will allow bacterial growth if they become moist. It is therefore essential these foods are stored in a dry place and are used immediately after preparation. All dry foods, including flour, biscuits, etc., will remain safe whilst dry.

Dry stores key points:

  1. Storage areas must be well lit, clean, cool, dry and well ventilated.
  2. Free-standing slatted shelves allow good ventilation and evidence of pest infestation to be seen quickly.
  3. Food should be stored off the floor to allow thorough cleaning.
  4. Good stock rotation will prevent build up of old stocks and will reveal evidence of pest infestation quickly.


Stock Rotation

All food should be stored in date order and the First In First Out (FIFO) rule followed and observed. To help with stock rotation:

  • Check ‘Use By‘ and ‘Best Before‘ dates regularly.
  • Put products with a shorter shelf life at the front of the shelf at the front of the shelf so they are used first.
  • Clear away any out of date stock.


Other Food Storage and Deliveries Hazards

There are other food safety hazard points associated with food delivery and storage. Safefood lists a number of additional hazards that are associated with the food storage and deliveries. These can be read in their Food Delivery & Storage article.


Online Food Safety Training

Please remember – it is a legal requirement that staff who are involved in a food environment are trained and/or supervised commensurate with their work activity!

Myelearnsafety offers fully online Food Safety (HACCP) courses.

To find out more, please check our Courses page.

Alternatively, should you need any additional information, please do not hesitate to let us know via email