How to Safely Store Raw Poultry in Your Restaurant's Kitchen

Raw poultry poses particular bacteria-related health risks, including E coli and other well- know forborne illness causing bacteria. Poultry includes a range of delicious meats and is often a key ingredient in many restaurant dishes. 

For this reason, paying particular attention to the prep and storage of poultry is advised. Below, we’ll discuss three core rules to follow in order to handle and store poultry properly for optimal consumption and to protect your restaurant guests and kitchen staff from food-borne illness.

How to Store Raw Poultry in Your Kitchen

Poultry includes meats such as chicken, turkey, goose, and duck. These foods pose a risk when they are raw and when they are served under cooked. Follow these guidelines when handling and storing poultry of any kind.

Rule #1 – Take extra care when preparing and wrapping poultry.

Your hands should be as clean as possible both before and after handling poultry. Always usewarm water and soap when you wash, and lather and scrub for 20 to 30 seconds each time. Keep utensils and prepping areas clean as well. After prep all utensils, containers, bowls, and cutting boards must be washed, rinsed, and sanitized or run through the dish machine. Any non-removable pieces including work surfaces must also be washed and sanitized with a proper sanitizing solution.

Remember: Never wash chicken — this promotes the spread of chicken juices and promotes cross-contamination.

Cross-contamination (when bacteria spreads from one surface to another) is a problem that can easily occur in any kitchen, and you’ll want to be particularly aware of it when it comes to raw poultry. Never set raw chicken on a surface and then use the same surface to prepare other foods, like vegetables or seafood.

When wrapping chicken, turkey, and other poultry for storage, use moisture-proof wrap or bags. Wrap tightly so that no juices can escape. It is best to put wrapped poultry on a shallow tray or pan just in case drips occur.

Rule #2 – Date and store poultry according to proper refrigeration guidelines.

After preparation and wrapping, always date each piece of stored poultry using your restaurant’s labeling and dating system.

Remember that as soon as poultry enters your kitchen, you need to keep it as cold as possible. With higher storage temperatures, bacteria tend to grow more rapidly. Most poultry can be safely stored for up to two days before you’ll need to either use it, throw it out, or freeze it. If you know you won’t be able to use the poultry right away or in the next two days, freeze it immediately to maintain optimal taste and quality.

When refrigerating, always put poultry on the lowest shelf possible while still abiding by your state and city’s guidelines for low food storage (most cities and states mandate that food not be stored within a certain number of inches of the floor). Above poultry in your refrigeration unit should be ground meat, beef and pork, fish and seafood, fruits and vegetables, and prepared foods— in that order (prepared foods on top shelf).

Rule #3 – Abide by the “First In, First Out” rule.

Known as the FIFO rule, this rule states that you should use the “oldest” inventory in your stock first. To abide by this rule, you must maintain strict dating and labeling guidelines in your kitchen so that every piece of food has an updated label. Then, when you need a piece of poultry for preparation, you can take out the oldest piece that is within the expiration date for use: First in, first out.

Why Are Storage Guidelines So Specific When It Comes to Raw Poultry?

Raw poultry can harbor dangerous bacteria, and in some rare cases, these bacteria can lead to severe illness and even death. When poultry is not handled, prepared, or stored properly, the following illness-causing bacteria may grow:

  • Campylobacter
  • Clostridiumperfringens
  • Salmonella

It is up to you to keep your kitchen clean, organized, and safe. The health and safety of your restaurant guests and kitchen staff depends on it.

For a successful business and healthy and satisfied customers, always follow the guidelines above when handling raw poultry. Doing this will also aid you in staying within health inspection guidelines and promoting a safe and efficient kitchen environment.