Steps in the Food Flow Process

Created by: Kemba Alexander


Receiving is the first step in the food flow process.

  • At this step you need to inspect the product you are receiving for any obvious problems.
  • The FDA requires that all food is appropriately stored within 20 minutes of receiving.

Receiving is an activity in which cross-contamination is not difficult to occur as boxes of meats and produce are stored closely together


Storing is the following step in the food flow process. This may include temperature, location and time .

There are FDA guidelines for temperatures and other conditions, but your own operation will have its specific policies and standards which you should be familiar with if this stage of the process is part of your responsibility. You want to follow these standards or guidelines in order to keep food fresh and avoid wasting.


Preparation is the third step in the food flow process. This includes cleaning, cutting, mixing, marinating, etc.

This is the first step where there is likely to be lots of food contact with equipment. Therefore, cross-contamination is likely to occur. To reduce :

  • work on one item at a time
  • put away immediately or serve
  • change or clean utensils as you move to different foods
  • do not mix items with your bare hands


The next step is Cooking. I believe this is the most important step in the food flow process because proper cooking kills the microorganisms in the food to make it safe.

Problems arise when people don't cook foods to the correct temperature or reheated improperly, or not cooled on time after cooking.


The next step in the food flow process is holding . The most common cause of mass outbreaks of foodborne illness in recent years, according to the Centers for Disease Control, was improper holding temperatures

USDA standards:

  • Hot foods must be held above 140° F for not more than two hours
  • Cold foods must be kept below 41° F for a time not to exceed four hours

Afterwards , food must be disposed.


Serving is the next step in the food flow process. Most times, this step is where a lot of issues occur with the personal hygiene of the server.

Some examples of bad personal hygiene are hair hanging in food or in the state where it can fall out in the food, not washing hands, not showering, and wearing dirty clothes .

Servers should make sure they wash hands thoroughly, take daily showers, make sure hair is in a style that's out of the way of the food and handling equipment properly.


The next step in the food flow process is Chilling. Chilling is a processing technique in which the temperature of a food is reduced and kept at a refrigerated temperature.

This technique is used to extend the shelf life of foods or to maintain a certain temperature in a food process to avoid wasting.


Reheating is the final step in the food flow process. In this process food needs to be, you guessed it , reheated to the correct temperature and appropriate amount of time in order to be served to avoid bacterial survival. Chefs use certain thermometers to measure the temperature of certain foods to ensure food safety.