Storing goods and materials safely

Storing food safely

Food and catering businesses must ensure food is correctly stored to comply with food-hygiene requirements - and protect their customers, staff and reputation.

They must:

  • observe temperature controls in all storage areas, including display cabinets
  • store dried food off the floor
  • observe use-by dates
  • ensure all areas are clean
  • avoid overloading refrigerated units - if they become too full, air doesn't circulate properly, causing food to deteriorate
  • follow any storage instructions on food packaging

Staff handling food must be supervised or properly trained. Your local authority's environmental health department should be able to advise you on training courses. Find your local council in Northern Ireland.

Take care not to cross-contaminate food. For example, raw and cooked food should not be stored next to each other and equipment used to handle raw food should be washed before being used on cooked food. 

You can reduce the risk of storing food by buying from reputable businesses which supply food that has been stored, processed and treated safely before it gets to you.

If you have any concerns about the food when it is delivered, you should refuse delivery.

You should also assess any possible manual-handling risks caused by food storage, such as employees stacking crates of bottles or lifting heavy bags of potatoes. See safe manual handling at work.

You must also ensure that all food and drink is stored in a way which minimises the risk of pollution.