Sustainability is more important today than it has ever been in the past. In fact, the National Restaurant Association listed sustainability as one of the hottest food trends in 2022, and we expect this trend to continue into the future.

Unfortunately, many restaurants and foodservice operations throw away fruits and vegetables that spoil too quickly, as food waste accounts for as much as 40 percent of the overall food supply. But there are ways to reduce this number. Although challenging, operators can use proven methods to maximize product shelf life and minimize produce spoilage. 

Fresh Produce Storage Concerns

Ethylene is a naturally produced gas that speeds up the ripening process in many fruits. This gas can affect other fruits and vegetables stored nearby and cause them to start to spoil at a quicker rate than usual. In addition, volatile organic compounds, or VOCs, can cause unpleasant odors in food storage locations like walk-ins. The VOCs can transfer to the fruits and vegetables, causing unpleasant flavors. It’s all a recipe for disaster in a foodservice business that is trying to watch costs and prevent food waste.

The Challenge

Unfortunately, traditional walk-in storage methods can create an environment perfect for bacteria to replicate exponentially. When mold and bacteria infiltrate a walk-in storage area, they can spread quickly, destroying countless pounds of fresh produce, threatening food quality, and affecting the restaurant’s bottom line. 

Methods to Extend Shelf Life

Preventing produce spoilage is important for restaurants, hotels, schools, and other foodservice businesses. Some tips include:

  • Rotating food and labeling it to ensure the food put in the storage area the earliest is consumed first.
  • Applying dated stickers to food that spoils quickly, such as mangoes, avocados, and pears.
  • Using absorbent food trays and pads inside containers when storing cut fruit and vegetables to absorb excess juices to help limit bacteria and mold growth. 

Another easy tip that doesn’t require any monitoring or labor? Install a Bluezone food preservation system

With Bluezone, it is possible to maximize food preservation and minimize mold growth and bacterial spread. By using UV lights that eliminate 99.9 percent of mold, bacteria, and ethylene gas in walk-in coolers, Bluezone reduces food waste by keeping produce fresher for extended periods. 

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