The purpose of refrigerators and cold display cabinets are to maintain food and drink below 5°C and in certain cases to enable you to showcase your products to your customers. Correct temperature can extend the life of perishable products as well as keeping beverages at the optimum consumption temperature.
Cold beverages need to be served at correct temperatures for your customers' enjoyment. In the hot Australian Summer, it is paramount that your refrigerator runs efficiently at all times to maximize your sales opportunities to your customers.
This can only be achieved through using your refrigerator correctly and keeping it maintained in peak condition.
Is your refrigerator working correctly?
When buying a refrigeration unit, make sure it is suitable for Australian conditions. Some units are designed for Northern Hemisphere ambient temperatures or for use inside air conditioned supermarkets - not 30°C plus! Solid doors are better insulators than glass doors and are a better choice if product doesn't have to be displayed.
Every time the door is opened, cold air is lost and the storage temperature starts to rise. Minimise door openings by planning product usage. The outside air that enters also contains moisture which collects on the evaporator coils as frost, reducing the effectiveness of heat transfer ... and causing regular defrosting.
Refrigerators should not be overstocked. Cold air needs to circulate freely around each container or item. This is especially important when warm product is first put into the fridge so that its temperature can be reduced quickly. Restocking at night is usually a good idea because the fridge can work without interruption to cool the product.
Should you switch off overnight?
If you're storing hazardous or perishable foods, this is obviously not a good idea. However, products such as canned drinks aren't at risk. A simple timer can turn off the fridge at closing time and switch it on a few hours before you open so that you have cold drinks ready to sell. Whether this will reduce energy consumption depends on the balance between what you save overnight and the energy you need to cool the product down again.
Whether or not you save money also depends on the tariff you're on - off-peak electricity (over night or at weekends) is cheaper.
Ensure your refrigerator is earning its keep. Position it where customers can see your stock and easily take what they want.
Only stock the products that sell. Your weekly turnover will tell you how much refrigeration space you really need - one fridge with a good turnover makes more sense than two which are half full of slow-moving items.
Look at shelf spacing to maximise storage space and place fast selling items at eye level.
Energy Saving Tips
Do not place your fridge in a hot area (eg, near cooking equipment or other sources of heat such as electric motors). Avoid placing it near a window in direct sunlight or against a north-facing external wall.
Open-front cabinets rely on an air curtain to stop cold air escaping. Don't place them in windy areas or near air-conditioning outlets which will disturb the curtain.
Make sure exposed condenser coils are clear of walls (10 - 15 cm of space) so that air can circulate freely. Avoid stacking cartons or anything around the refrigerator that will impede air flow.
Keep condenser coils clean - layers of dirt, dust, cobwebs, etc, reduce the amount of heat that can be transferred to the surroundings.
Make sure your fridge remains frost-free. Ice is an insulator and build-ups greater than 4 or 5 mm will reduce efficiency.
If your fridge is running continuously (or starts making a different noise), it's probably not operating efficiently and needs to be looked at by a refrigeration mechanic.
Check that the door seal is adequate. When the door is closed, it should be able to grip a piece of paper. If the paper slides easily the seal is worn or damaged and needs to be replaced.
Make sure you ask your Jaymak representative about measuring up for replacement door seals if they are damaged or cracked.
Product is stored under refrigeration for three reasons: to keep potentially hazardous foods safe for consumption (eg, meats, dairy products) to extend the storage life of perishable goods (eg, fresh fruit and vegetables)and to enhance sales (eg, drinks and confectionary) South Australian Food Hygiene Regulations require that food be stored at temperatures which will "preserve it from deterioration".
FSANZ Food Safety Standards include strict conditions for the storage and display of food which is defined as "potentially hazardous". This type of food must be stored under "temperature control" to minimise the growth of micro-organisms and prevent the formation of toxins.
Temperature control usually means keeping food at or below 5°C or at or above 60°C unless you can prove that storage at temperatures between these limits will not adversely affect the microbiological safety of the food.
The storage life of perishable goods (fruit, vegetables, and flowers) can be extended by refrigeration. The recommended temperatures range from 6-10°C for beans and potatoes to 0-5°C for fruits and flowers. Many canned and bottled items can be safely stored at room temperature and are only refrigerated to be sold as cold food and drinks.
The important point for the business is how much you sell. Don't waste energy and money by refrigerating product that doesn't sell.
Check cabinet temperatures and make sure the thermostat is operating correctly. Typical operating temperature for a refrigerator is 3 to 4°C and -18 to -20°C for a freezer. Check this with a thermometer. Too high a temperature compromises food safety; too low wastes energy - every degree below the temperature you really need adds approximately 2 or 3% to your energy bill.