Proper Organization for a Walk-in Fridge

If you have a walk-in refrigerator then you are likely a restaurateur or someone who regularly serves a large amount of food to a lot of people.

Bottom Shelves

In either case, food safety must top your priority list. Foodborne illnesses can be the result of various factors, including the improper storage of your food prior to service. A walk-in cooler must be organized properly to prevent cross contamination of the items in storage.

You will need shelving to get the most storage space out of your walk-in fridge. Careful planning will help prevent cross contamination. Reserve your bottom shelves for raw meats and poultry. Raw meats and poultry are among the most likely foods to carry salmonella and other bacteria that can cause foodborne illnesses. They are also prone to dripping. When these foods are on the bottom shelves of your walk-in, you will not have to worry about juices from these foods dripping onto other foods.

Upper Shelves

While your raw proteins are occupying the bottom shelves of your walk-in, the cooked meats can go up at the top. The bacteria in the meat have been destroyed by cooking at this point and it is no longer likely to drip juices on items below. Other ready-to-eat foods should also go on the top shelves. Vegetables and fruit or heat-and-serve items belong on the top shelves. If you refrigerate desserts, they should also be on top to prevent spills from above. All items should be covered.

Shelf Positions

Shelves in most walk-ins are adjustable just as in any refrigerator. You should be certain yours are adjusted correctly. Bottom shelves should be set at least 6 inches off the floor so they can be cleaned underneath easily. The top shelf should also be low enough to prevent any items stored there from touching the ceiling of the cooler.

Air Circulation

When placing the items on the shelves there should also be plenty of room for good air circulation around the foods. Proper air circulation will allow your refrigerator to cool properly and will not make it work to hard to maintain safe temperatures.


Proper food labeling is essential in keeping a walk-in refrigerator safe. Make sure all foods are labeled to prevent confusion. Labels should clearly show the type of food in the container and the date it was put there as well as the date by when it must be used.

About the Author

Lee Morgan is a fiction writer and journalist. His writing has appeared for more than 15 years in many news publications including the "Tennesseean," the "Tampa Tribune," "West Hawaii Today," the "Honolulu Star Bulletin" and the "Dickson Herald," where he was sports editor. He holds a Bachelor of Science in mass communications from Middle Tennessee State University.