How to Label Food in a Restaurant or Commercial Kitchen

It may seem obvious, but one of the most crucial and time-saving tasks to run a more organized and efficient commercial kitchen is learning how to label food with food rotation labels. Food rotation labels allow you to identify food products quickly and set up a storage system that helps to keep counters from being cluttered and food properly labeled. It is also an FDA requirement that you maintain accurate labeling of your food in your kitchen. Learning how to label food correctly is a practice that will have long term benefits for your commercial kitchen as well as for your restaurant patrons.

Why is Labeling Food so Important? Does it Really Make a Difference?

You may think of food rotation labels as an afterthought. Why put a label on something I can simply identify by looking at it? But the advantages of using food rotation labels go far beyond just being able to identify which storage bin has potatoes and which bin has lettuce. They provide many more uses to help you run a safe, clean and efficient commercial kitchen.


How to Label Food in a Restaurant or Commercial Kitchen

Safety First

Labeling food in a commercial kitchen minimizes foodborne illness. By placing food rotation labels on your storage bins you can easily label the type of food in the storage container, the date it was added to the storage bin, and the date the food will expire.

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How to Label Food in a Restaurant or Commercial Kitchen

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All time and temperature controlled foods require these three key pieces of information:

  • Type of food
  • Date food was added
  • Date food expires

Food that is served after the use by, or expiration date, could cause food-related illness to your restaurant patrons.

Reduce Waste

Accurate food rotation labels help you know exactly when food will expire, which cuts down on the amount of food wasted in your commercial kitchen. Knowing you need to use the tomatoes within the next two days will help motivate you to create menu items that feature that product before they expire.

How to Label Food in a Restaurant or Commercial Kitchen


Labeling your food is also crucial to maintaining a well-organized pantry. By labeling items with food rotation labels, you can make sure all your vegetable labeled storage bins are close to one another; same with fruits, meats, and other similarly labeled products. This helps prevent cross-contamination of different foods, which can prevent foodborne illness. Keeping fruits and vegetables away from raw meat helps ensure that diseases like salmonella, which can be found on raw chicken, don’t end up on your vegetables.

Simplify InventoryHow to Label Food in a Restaurant or Commercial Kitchen

Organizing your food stock by category also allows you to take a quick inventory of all your items. That means that come ordering day, you’ll know with ease if you need to purchase more or less of a certain product.

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What Information Should I Include on a Food Rotation Label?

While step one is adding colored food rotation labels to your food storage bins, step two is making sure the information you write on the label is useful for how you want to organize and run your commercial kitchen. There are different types of food rotation labels, so choosing the one that best suits your needs is important. Here are some examples of how to label food in a commercial kitchen.

How to Label Food in a Restaurant or Commercial Kitchen

  • Start by identifying the product. Writing the name of the item on the label is the first step to being organized and quickly finding the food you seek.
  • Next, ensure employees write their name or initials on the label they created. This will help ensure accountability among your staff if something goes wrong.
  • Including the day and time that the product was prepped is crucial for food safety. This bit of information helps you determine the shelf life of the product. Include both the prep day and either the shelf life or the use by date of the product on your food rotation labels to prevent serving spoiled food.
  • You may consider including preparation instructions, handling instructions, and allergy warnings on your labels as well.
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Why Are Day-of-the-Week Labels Color-Coded?

All commercial kitchens adhere to the same color-coded day of the week labels to maintain consistency across the industry. A universally accepted color-coded labeling system minimizes confusion from one kitchen to the next. These color-coded food rotation labels make identifying and removing outdated food from your kitchen quick and easy.

Colors Associated with Each Day of the WeekHow to Label Food in a Restaurant or Commercial Kitchen

  • Monday – Blue
  • Tuesday – Yellow
  • Wednesday- Red
  • Thursday – Brown
  • Friday- Green
  • Saturday – Orange
  • Sunday – Black

How do I use Food Rotation Labels?

You can learn more food rotation label best practices by checking out our Ultimate Guide to Food Rotation Labels! Implementing food rotation labels may seem like a big task to start, but once fully ingrained in your day-to-day operations, they will save you both time and money.

Food rotation labels provide invaluable benefits to a commercial kitchen of any size. Start using food rotation labels in your operations today!Request a FREE label sample packet by emailing [external_footer]