Cold stores are essential equipment in the food production industry. They are used in restaurants, hotels, schools, factories, and anywhere else where food is prepared for sale or consumption. But as useful as cold stores are, they are not without their perils and as crazy as it might sound, yes, cold stores can actually be hazardous to life and limb if you are not careful!
What is a Cold Store?
Cold stores in a domestic setting are better known as fridges and freezers. They are typically small and are only designed for the storage of relatively small amounts of food. You might still find domestic fridges and freezers in a commercial setting, most often in small cafes and shops, but for the most part, restaurants and other commercial premises are more likely to have walk-in cold storage areas or freezer rooms, the reason being that commercial premises will need a greater storage capacity. And in the case of meat packing plant, the cold store could actually encompass an entire warehouse area.
So what can possibly go wrong with a cold store? Read on to find out.
Incorrect Temperature Setting
The whole point of a cold store is that it is designed to keep foods cold. In the days before refrigeration was invented, food did not keep for very long, particularly in warm weather. Meat and fish could be cured or smoked, but dairy would have spoiled fairly quickly. This would have inevitably led to food poisoning cases left, right and centre. So if your cold store has a dodgy thermostat or you have it set at the wrong temperature, don’t be surprised if it leads to a bad case of food poisoning, which if you are really unlucky is fatal.
Cold stores are no different to any other part of a kitchen—they need to be regularly cleaned and disinfected. Raw meat in particular has the potential to harbour all kinds of nasty germs, so surfaces need to be kept clean and hygienic. PVC panels are perfect for lining the walls, floor and ceiling of a purpose built cold store as they are easy to wipe down and keep clean. Poor hygiene is often the precursor to illness, and if the affected person is less than healthy to begin with, they could end up dead.
Raw and Cooked Don’t Mix
One key hygiene rule you should always adhere to is not to mix raw and cooked foods. Raw meat is full of bacteria and if you allow raw meat to contaminate cooked meat, it might cause a nasty dose of food poisoning. The same applies to fish—raw fish should never be allowed to mix with cooked food. So be careful to store food in a cold store correctly or someone might die from E-coli poisoning.
Although it is an unlikely scenario, there is always the possibility that an employee could end up trapped inside a cold store. This probably wouldn’t kill them in the short term, but if they were unable to escape, hypothermia would set in, the person would fall asleep, and eventually they would die.
To avoid any of the above happening, make sure you adhere to all relevant health and safety legislation. It is also worth considering the installation of Proclad panels, as they are ideal in this type of commercial environment.