Fresh Produce Storage
Tips from the Produce Marketing Association
Once fresh produce reaches your operation, you become the most important safety link
in the distribution chain. Have a program in place for storage that maintains proper
temperatures and avoids any opportunity for cross-contamination. Your most important
objective is to preserve product safety, and safety practices also will help you maintain
product quality. You won’t be around for every delivery or restock, so be sure your
employees are well-trained in the areas of ordering, receiving, storage, culling, crisping,
and safety monitoring.
1. Store all chemicals/pesticides away from food items, food storage, food prep
areas, and food display areas.
2. Never store items directly on the floor.
3. Prevent raw products, such as raw meats, from dripping on others such as fresh
produce — keep raw meats below ready-to-eat foods such as produce if they
have to be stored in the same cooler.
4. Use a first-in first-out (FIFO) cooler and case rotation procedure. Be sure stock is
accessible for visual inspection (e.g. sufficient aisle space).
5. Order carefully — creating a balance between having enough on hand to meet
demand and not so much that product is on hand too long.
6. Receive produce promptly and put it away quickly. Most produce should not sit
out at room temperature, let alone on a warm dock. If delivery is at night or other
time when no produce staff are there to receive, have a system in place to get
fresh-cut and other highly perishable items into the cooler.
7. Store produce properly. Fresh-cut produce should be at 33-41 degrees F., 1-5
degrees C. If you can’t keep the produce cooler cold enough for fresh-cut, store it
in the dairy-deli cooler. For other items, check with your supplier for proper
storage and humidity requirements or use available industry guides.
8. Should you find a problem with produce in storage, remove the affected items
and clean the area around them.
9. Keep cooler doors closed to maintain proper temperatures and humidity levels.
The Produce Marketing Association (PMA), founded in 1949 and based in Newark,
Delaware, is a not-for-profit global trade association serving over 2,400 members who
market fresh fruits, vegetables, and related products worldwide. Its members are
involved in the production, distribution, retail, and foodservice sectors of the industry.
PMA's core purpose is to sustain and enhance an environment that advances the
marketing of produce and related products and services.
Contact the Produce Marketing Association Solution Center for additional information
about produce safety and other resource for the foodservice sector: +1 (302) 738-7100.