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Stand-Up Training: Date Marking and FIFO

Date marked food FIFO storage

Empower Employees Through Food Safety Training

Help reinforce good food safety practices in your establishment through stand-up meetings. Use this training outline as a guide for your next meeting. Date marking foods and using the FIFO (First In, First Out) method of food storage help you use food when it’s at its freshest and reduce overall food waste.

Learning Objectives

You may choose to read these learning objectives with your employees as a part of the stand-up training. After this training, employees should be able to:

  • Date mark leftover or opened foods in the refrigerator
  • Explain how FIFO food storage works
  • Identify when foods in storage should be discarded

The Facts

You may choose to read these facts with your employees as a part of the stand-up training.

  • Bacteria don’t stop multiplying at refrigeration temperatures; they just slow down.
  • Leftover or opened foods in refrigeration should be labeled with a use-by date seven days from when the food was first thawed, opened, or prepared. The day that the food was opened or prepared counts as day one.
  • Food should be labeled with the earliest use-by date of any of its ingredients.
  • If a food is not served or sold before its use-by date, it must be thrown away. By that time, pathogens like Listeria monocytogenes may have multiplied to dangerous levels in the food.
  • If an open or previously prepared TCS food item in the fridge does not have a use-by date, it should be thrown away.
  • Don’t forget to read the use-by dates set by food manufacturers. If food passes its manufacturer’s use-by date, it should be thrown away.
  • FIFO stock rotation helps prevent unnecessary food waste. Store items in order of their use-by dates, with the earliest dates in front. That way, the first item you grab will be the one that needs to be used the soonest. FIFO is a great system for foods in dry storage as well as in the refrigerator.

Training Activities

Choose the activities that will be most beneficial for your employees. Modify them as needed to fit the training needs of your establishment.

Date Marking Demo

Watch: Date Marking video

Demonstrate: Show your employees how to date mark refrigerated food. If possible, use at least one food item that includes a previously prepared ingredient as one of your date marking samples. Discuss: Which use-by date should we mark on each food item? Display (optional): Hang the Caveman Use-By Date cartoon near the refrigerator as a friendly reminder about date marking.

Date Marking Inspection

Inspect: Examine the refrigerators and dry storage areas in your establishment. Challenge your employees to point out and correct any problems with the way foods are stored or date marked. Discuss: Are there any foods that have passed their use-by dates? Are there any leftovers that are missing use-by labels? Observe: Employees should throw away any foods that are no longer safe to eat.

FIFO Check

Watch: First In, First Out (FIFO) video

Demonstrate: Check to see if foods at the front of a shelf have earlier use-by dates than foods at the back. If not, show how the foods should be rearranged to follow the FIFO system.

Following Up

Use these ideas to follow up with your employees and make sure they’re using the date marking and FIFO system.

  1. Observe your employees as they date mark, store, and retrieve stored foods to see if they apply your training. If you see room for improvement, approach your employees with a direct, positive attitude.
  2. Give employees constructive tips for remembering the ins and outs of date marking and FIFO. Praise employees who label, store, use, and discard foods appropriately. Employees who label and store food properly help keep food safe and prevent waste.

Make sure your shift managers and supervisors can answer questions that other employees may have about date marking and FIFO. Encourage employees to ask questions when they need help instead of guessing at the right answer. As needed, review this training with your employees.

Training Resources

The Date Marking video describes how to label refrigerated foods with a use-by date. View the Spanish version of this video: Marcado de la Fecha.

The First In, First Out (FIFO) video explains how to arrange stored food according to date. View the Spanish version of this video: Primero en Entrar, Primero en Salir (FIFO).

The Caveman Use-By Date cartoon provides a humorous reminder that foods that have passed their use-by dates are no longer safe to eat. Consider posting it by a refrigerator in your establishment.

Did you use this stand-up training in your establishment? We’d love to get your feedback! Submit your comments through our five-minute survey. Submit Feedback

— Alyssa Erickson

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