Restaurant Freezer Temperatures: The Essential Guide

The food service industry and culinary business rely heavily on restaurant freezers which become essential for a wide range of restaurants like commercial restaurants, fast food restaurants, chain restaurants, casual dining restaurants, standalone restaurants, cafes, bars, buffet restaurants, hospitality sector, businesses providing ‘dine-in’ experiences to customers, and other food-related services. 

However, precise temperature control and proper setting of restaurant freezer temperatures help maintain the quality of various food items, but it depends mainly on the restaurant freezer features such as adjustable temperature settings, digital temperature control, and display. Below is a guide that provides restaurant owners, managers, and chefs with a comprehensive overview of the importance of setting restaurant freezer temperatures, benefits, the best storage temperatures for different foods in restaurants, and an insight into monitoring restaurant freezer temperatures.

sea foods in restaurant freezer

Setting Restaurant Freezer Temperatures for Safety and Quality

Setting restaurant freezer temperature is very important because it ensures proper food storage while keeping food completely protected from bacteria, mold, yeasts, and other factors that can affect food freshness and nutritional value, in addition, many dangers come from improper freezer temperature setting, these dangers include:

Foodborne illness


Setting the ideal temperature for restaurant freezers slows the bacterial growth which normally doubles every 20 minutes, however, if food is not kept cold enough at the right freezer temperature, pathogenic bacteria such as Salmonella Enteritidis, Staphylococcus aureus, listeria, and E. coli, grow and cause food spoilage, however, to prevent the spoilage of food and deter the growth of harmful bacteria, it is recommended to set-up restaurant freezers at (0 degrees Fahrenheit/ 0° F (-18° C) and -20°F / -29°C), this temperature keeps food safe for a long period.

However, restaurant freezer does not kill bacteria, but it only puts them into hibernation, which keeps food items inactive while frozen, at the same time, it effectively stops the growth of microorganisms, prevents bacteria from growing, and stops the movement of molecules that cause microbes and foodborne illness.


Bacterias Growth

Bacterias Growth

Bacteria can grow and multiply in warm temperatures and can also survive in cold temperatures, the growth of bacteria develops an uncharacteristic odor/color and makes food unappetizing and sticky which impacts the flavor and taste of food. So, it is vital to set up restaurant freezer temperatures between 0°F and -10°F to inactivate any type of bacteria, microbes, or mold, it is necessary to avoid maintaining your restaurant freezer temperature between 40°F/4°C and 140°F/60°C, as this range of temperatures is called the “Danger Zone” and allows the growth of the two types of bacterias in food:

Pathogenic bacteria:

such as Listeria, Salmonella, and Clostridium, this type of bacteria cause foodborne illness.

Spoilage bacteria:

such as Bacillus and Related Genera, this type of foodborne pathogen produces toxins and does not cause diseases.


Reduce food quality

Reduce food quality

Nowadays, the restaurant industry is incredibly competitive, serving fresh dishes depends largely on the performance of restaurant freezers while freezer temperature control is the key to ensuring customer satisfaction and retention, most restaurant freezers feature advanced temperature control mechanisms and monitoring systems that help store food at optimal temperatures and at the same time it controls the quality of different types of food including temperature-sensitive food and perishable goods.

Also, setting a precise temperature for the restaurant freezer can guarantee food stays fresh longer and is safe to eat, this impacts the quality of ingredients while it prevents bacterial growth and preserves the integrity of ingredients (texture and flavor).


The Best Storage Temperatures for Different Foods in Restaurants

The Best Storage Temperatures for Different Foods in Restaurants

Restaurant freezers are mainly designed to keep food safe almost indefinitely, the ideal temperature for a restaurant freezer ranges between 0°F (-18°C) and -20°F (-29°C), and a wide range of food can be stored within this temperature range including fresh meat, beef, pork, lamb, poultry, seafood, fish, shellfish, crustaceans, dairy products, baked goods, cooked food, cooked leftovers, and any chopped or cut vegetable or fruit. 

Also, to maintain the ideal coldness for delicate items like seafood and ice cream, the restaurant freezer should be slightly set, at around -5°F. 

Therefore, setting freezer temperatures for different food in a restaurant can extend the shelf life of temperature-sensitive food and perishable food while it can effectively stopping and inhibiting the growth of food-related pathogens, microbial and proliferation, which prevents food deterioration over time and ensures foods stay fresh indefinitely if stored in such freezing conditions.


The Ideal Temperature For Restaurant Freezer

The Ideal Temperature For Restaurant Freezer

 The ideal temperature for a restaurant freezer should operate between -18°C and -23°C (0°F and -10°F), most food can be stored within this temperature range, this will keep food frozen and safe until they are cooked or reheated, contrarily, if the temperature in your restaurant freezer fluctuates, it will form ice crystals on your food and cause freezer burn. 

Also, setting the ideal temperature depends mainly on the freezer’s performance, temperature control system, capacity of storage, and ability to fulfill the freezing requirements of different industries in terms of food freezing safety, flavor, and texture.

The Temperature Ranges for Different Refrigeration Equipment Used in Restaurants
Precise temperature control is paramount for restaurant freezers, most restaurants require freezers to be set as follows:

Deep freeze: between -25°C and -30°C
Reach-in freezer: between -23°C and -15°C
Walk-in freezer: between -23°C and -18°C
Ice cream freezer: between -20°F and -23°C
Reach-In Refrigerators: between 35F and 38F
Walk-In Refrigerators: between 35F and 38F

According to the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), the refrigeration equipment should be at 40 °F or below, while freezer temperature must remain at, or below 0° Fahrenheit to prevent the growth of dangerous bacteria and keeps food safe indefinitely.


How To Keep Restaurant Freezer Temperatures Cool In The Summer?

How To Keep Restaurant Freezer Temperatures Cool In The Summer

Summer rising temperature presents a challenge for restaurant freezers which become warm, and sometimes lead to freezer failure, also, pathogenic bacteria survive, grow, and multiply fast in temperatures ranging between 40 and 140 °F, this is called the Danger Zone and can increase the risk of contamination of different types of raw or cooked food. For this reason, the freezers should maintain a steady temperature. 

Also, fluctuating temperatures can cause ice crystals to form with the freezer burn and food to spoil faster.


Why Avoid Too-cold and Too-warm Restaurant Freezer Temperatures?


 The ideal temperature to keep frozen food safe is -18°C (0°F), too-cold and too-warm restaurant freezer or fluctuation in temperature can spoil your food quickly if your restaurant freezer is too warm, food items will defrost and thaw, which leads to bacterial growth and food poisoning, and can make food not an appetizing experience, whereas, when your restaurant freezer is running too cold, freezer burn happened and can impact food’s flavor and texture, but it doesn’t influence food safety. 

Also, too-cold restaurant freezers normally form ice crystals on the outside, while, keeping it running at a too cold temperature will increase your energy bills.


Monitoring and Maintaining the Temperature of Restaurant Freezers

Monitoring and Maintaining the Temperature of Restaurant Freezers

Monitoring and maintaining consistent temperatures for restaurant freezers is crucial to prevent temperature fluctuation, and ensure restaurant freezers operate optimally, for that, it is recommended to use reliable temperature monitoring systems, temperature sensors, accurate thermometers, and auto-defrost systems to maintain the required temperature ranges for different types of food items. 

Moreover, periodic maintenance can extend the lifespan of your restaurant freezer, and save you money in the long run, besides this, incorporating a comprehensive maintenance plan into your restaurant freezer preserves the quality of food and eliminates cross-contamination (food-to-food and equipment-to-food contamination), while it keeps the freezer space free of any harmful contaminants. 

On the other hand, a well-maintained freezer operates efficiently, but implementing routine checks or regular maintenance is a time-consuming task, opting for user-friendly restaurant freezers will make the maintenance and cleaning easy and save you time and money.


The world’s best restaurants, multinational fast-food companies, and the food service industry rely heavily on restaurant freezers to maintain optimal freezer temperature and store safely their bulk frozen food for a long period, the best-in-class restaurant freezers that guarantee the coldest freezer temperatures are available to restaurant owners and managers to choose from.



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