Food waste in the United States is potentially as high as 40% in our food supply, according to the USDA.
And while that loss accounts for the entire supply chain, from farm to table, so to speak, the vast majority is from spoilage.
And as any restaurant owner, general manager, or chef knows, spoilage has a huge impact on a kitchen's bottom line. Heck, that's how the soup of the day is determined, right? And proper refrigeration plays a big part in reducing restaurant food loss.
While the USDA is looking at ways to cut food waste by 50% by 2030, you can take action right now by making sure your walk-ins, coolers, freezers, and line units have working equipment.
In the following article, we'll take a look at five common refrigeration issues restaurants face.
1. Evaporator breakdowns
The cooling coils in a freezer are called evaporators. Moisture in the air will sometimes collect and freeze on these coils. This, in turn, creates an insulator and stops a transfer of heat. Airflow is also constricted when this happens.
In most cases, the freezer or walk-in has a defrost mechanism that takes care of the build-up, but you still need to check this regularly. If ice builds up on the evaporators, this will cause constant compressor running, reduce efficiency, and cause structural damage. If their ice clogs up the unit's fan, it could cause the walk-in to run too cold, and items could freeze.
2. Condenser failures
The condenser coils help take the heat out of your refrigeration unit. These coils need to have either open ventilation or need proper ductwork if the area is enclosed. Some restaurants use the exhaust to vent into a dry storage space to maintain that area's warm environment.
Improper airflow from the condensers can increase strain on the compressor and lead to failure.
3. Refrigeration Space
Overcrowding, ice build-up, and structural damage are all characteristics of a refrigeration space failure. The door of the walk-in or freezer is likely the most sensitive part of the structural space. Frost buildup is due to a faulty door heater that can lead to a frozen door.
This may mean the door won't open or fail to close.
4. Door seals
Open. Close. Open. Close. Such is the life of a refrigerator door in a busy restaurant.
This constant activity will inevitably affect the unit's door seals. The thin strips that keep that cold air in place when the door is closed. If left to go to seed, the worn door seals will allow moisture to build up, temperatures to rise, and, worst case, mold to grow.
5. Poor maintenance
Proper maintenance and establishing a schedule for repairs and replacing parts is a great way to avoid costly repairs. Ultimately, spending a little on maintenance will stop major spoilage and lost inventory. One tip is to use a digital organizer app to ensure that maintenance is as regular as your 3,000-mile oil change.
Keep Your Cool
Taking steps to understand the workings of your walk-in or freezer is no big deal, but a breakdown on a busy July night is. By taking the time to properly inspect your walk-in, make sure you are not overloading it, and conducting proper maintenance to your refrigeration unit. Doing this will save you money and not waste inventory.
Are you ready to talk to a refrigeration expert or plumbing consultant? Contact us today.