Purchasing, Receiving, & Storing

ServSafe Chapter 5

What to Reject:

Reject packages with:
  • Tears, holes, or punctures in packaging
  • Cans with swollen ends, rust, or dents
  • Broken cartons or seals
  • Dirty and discolored packaging
  • Leaks, dampness, or water stains
  • Signs of pests or pest damage
  • Expired use-by/expiration dates
  • Evidence of tempering

Reject food that:
  • Contains mold or has an abnormal color.
  • Reject meat, fish, or poultry if; it's slimy, sticky, or dry.
  • Leaves imprint when touched.
  • Has an abnormal or unpleasant odor.
  • Frozen food that has evidence of thawing and refreezing.
  • Fluids or water stains at the bottom or on packaging.
  • Ice crystals or frozen liquids on the food or packaging.

What temperature must food be received?

  • Cold TCS food must be received at 41°F (5°C) or lower, unless specified.
- Live shellfish: Receive oysters, mussels, clams, and scallops at an air temperature of 45°F (7°C), internal temperature no greater than 50°F (10°C)
- Shucked shellfish: received at 45°F (7°C) or lower, must be cooled to 41°F (5°C) in four hours.

- Shell eggs: received at an air temperature of 45°F (7°C) or lower.

- Milk: received at 45°F (7°C) or lower, must be cooled to 41°F (5°C) or lower in four hours.

  • Hot TCS food must be received at 135°F (57°C) or higher
  • Frozen food must be received frozen solid

How to check the temperature

  • Meat, poultry, and fish: Insert thermometer stem or probe into the thickest part of the food.
  • ROP (reduced oxygen packaging) food: Insert thermometer stem or probe between 2 packages.
    - Alternative: Fold package around the thermometer stem or probe.
  • Packaged food: Open the package and insert thermometer stem or probe into the food.


  1. Identify the recalled food items.
  2. Remove the item from inventory, and place it in a secure and appropriate location.
  3. Store the item separately.
  4. Label the item so it won't be placed back in the inventory.
  5. Inform staff not to use the product.
  6. Refer to the vendor's notification or recall notice to determine what to do with the item.

Receiving and Inspecting

Key drop deliveries:
  • Supplier is given after-hour access to the operation to make deliveries.
  • Deliveries must meet the following:
    - Be inspected upon arrival
    - Be from approved source
    - Has been placed in the correct storage
    - Protected from contamination in storage
    - Not contaminated
    - Honestly presented

Storing Food

  • Store food in this order:
  1. Read-to-eat food (135°F)
  2. Seafood (145°F)
  3. Whole cuts of beef and pork (145°F)
  4. Ground meat and ground fish (155°F)
  5. Whole and ground poultry (165°F)

This is based on the minimum internal cooking temperature of each food.

  • Rotate food using the FIFO (first in, first out) so the oldest foods get used first.
  • Throw out food that has passed its used-by or expiration date.
  • Ready-to-eat TCS food can be stored for only 7 days if it is held at 41°F (5°C) or lower.
    *The day it was prepared counts as day one.
  • Store items away from walls and at least 6 inches (15 centimeters) off the floor.


  1. How long can TCS food that was prepped in-house be stored?
    A. 3 days
    B. 5 days
    C. 7 days
    D. 9 days

  2. Milk can be received at 45°F (7°C) or lower under what condition?
    A. It is thrown out after 2 days
    B. It is cooled to 41°F (7°C) or lower in 4 hours
    C. It is immediately cooled to 41°F (7°F) or lower
    D. It is served or used in the operation within 2 hours.

  3. How many inches (centimeters) from the floor should food be stored?
    A. At least 1" (3 cm)
    B. At least 2" (5 cm)
    C. At least 4" (10 cm)
    D. At least 6" (15 cm)