Whether it is dripping from a refrigeration fan unit, beading on the interior packaging of an improperly cooled ready-to-eat food, causing rust on metal food contact surfaces of equipment or directly on frozen raw shrimp, condensation is a food safety concern and must be dealt with accordingly by anyone producing food. Excessive moisture from condensation helps bacteria to thrive, mold spores to grow, and even provides an open invitation for potential insect harborage. (I’ve actually seen wayward birds quenching their thirst from condensate that has formed on display ice cream freezers in a grocery sales area.) Warm and humid summer days definitely accelerate the formation of condensation; however, more often than not, a little cost-effective common sense will rectify the issue. Here are a few tips for operators:
- Keep refrigeration doors closed when not in use, wipe down ceiling tops of freezers if they are beading moisture after a delivery, keep fan unit lines clean and free of blockage, install or fix air curtains and replace door gaskets when needed.
- Monitor defrost cycles on refrigeration units and keep products stored properly within display case load lines and off vents. Air needs to circulate properly around refrigerated products to keep them at a proper cold holding temperature, so packing them close together with no space is a detriment.
- Do not let frozen products thaw and then re-freeze.
- Properly cool products before they are packaged.
- Cover or properly store exposed equipment so aerosolized moisture will not collect on surfaces during cleaning.
Proper food safety training on what may seem basic to some, but is not to others, should always be taken into consideration and explained thoroughly.