What Does FIFO Refer To in Food Processing?

What Does FIFO Refer To in Food Processing

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If you’ve ever wondered what FIFO stands for in the food processing industry, then you’ve come to the right place. FIFO stands for “First In, First Out”; this refers to the fact that the products that enter a certain process are the first to leave. This ensures a safe and efficient inventory process.

But, that isn’t all! Dive into this article and you’ll be blown away by all we have to tell you. So sit back while we prepare you for all the wonders behind the renowned acronym: FIFO.

What does FIFO stand for?

So, what does FIFO refer to? And what does FIFO require?  

In the food processing industry, FIFO is a well-known acronym that stands for: First In, First Out”. It is a storage and rotation method that is used to identify old products from newer ones so that they can be sold to the market before the rest to avoid any potential health risks and food wastage and spoilage

The FIFO system allows for easy identification of food products as either old or new so that the old ones can be used or sold before the new ones. This is usually, done by two methods:

  • Automated inventory management: Organizing products in a manner that old products are placed on top of new products
  • Labeling each product piece with its manufacture date and receipt 

Regarding food, a short shelf life does not come as a surprise. Therefore, with its magic wand, FIFO ensures that no food product goes to waste or becomes a victim of pathogenic threats. It makes sure that old food products do not gather up or expire if they are not used or sold soon enough.

The FIFO system is widely practiced by eateries such as restaurants, cafes, and stores and is considered one of the best practices to maintain food quality and standards. By adopting such practices, the food products never lack freshness and remain safe for public consumption.

What does FIFO refer to in food processing?

In food processing, FIFO definition is “First In, First Out”, which is one of the most renowned techniques to ensure food quality and safety. It basically tells which food products go where, depending upon how old they are, while the old ones are to be sold or used first in order to save them from spoilage and contamination.

In the world of food processing, FIFO for food safety is termed as a way of storing food stocks efficiently by rotating them throughout the process and organizing food products in a manner that discourages wastage and encourages fruitful utilization. It also promotes the orderly production of food so that shortages of ingredients are not a problem.

Why is FIFO important?

For food business owners, knowing what is FIFO method  is an extremely important technique of inventory management as effective food storage and utilization determine the overall reputation and success of the business, be it restaurants, cafes, stores, or small-scale kitchens. If food safety practices, such as FIFO, are applied correctly, the quality, nutrition, and standard of the food are preserved. 

FIFO also prevents cross-contamination by promoting the rotation of food and its proper storage methods that keep it safe from pathogenic attacks. 

There are a bunch of other aspects as to what is FIFO method and why is it important for the food processing industry. Some of these are listed below:

  1. Reduced wastage: FIFO greatly reduces the amount of food wasted every day which also, in turn, reduces excessive costs by using/selling older food practices first. This greatly reduces spoilage and the chances of foodborne illnesses emerging.
  2. Reduced costs: When food is smartly utilized, saved, and stored for longer periods of time, it greatly reduces the overall costs for the business owners 
  3. Quality control: When older products are used first and newer ones after, many quality-related issues including spoilage and contamination which may harm public health at large. 
  4. Compliance: The FDA (Food Development Authority), a regulatory authority provides guidelines that enforce food quality and standards. FIFO greatly helps food business owners comply with these guidelines and, in turn, avoid fines and penalties. 
  5. Customer satisfaction:  By adopting the FIFO method, food business owners keep the consumers/customers happy by providing good quality and healthy food, earning satisfaction and loyalty in return.
  6. Better workflow: FIFO helps streamline activities in the kitchen and pantries. Food is organized in clusters, and stores with the manufacturer date and utilized accordingly.

What does a FIFO Checklist look like?

Food processing industries try their best to actively manage their food inventories, for which they turn to the FIFO for food safety methods. 

Read on to find out what a FIFO checklist may include  and what does FIFO require:

  1. Check inventory regularly: Manage regular inventory inspections to make sure that products are being rotated according to the FIFO method. This usually covers checking expiration dates, production dates, and the condition of the products.
  2. Label products correctly: Utilize clear and accurate tagging to identify products by their manufacturing or receipt date. This promotes the usage or sale of older products first.
  3. Train employees: Make sure that all personnel has sufficient training on FIFO and how to rotate products, including the online structure and refresher classes.
  4. Monitor storage conditions: Monitor the storage conditions of products to ensure that they are being stored in a way that maintains their quality and freshness. This includes monitoring temperature, humidity, and other environmental factors.
  5. Use inventory management systems: Use automated inventory management systems to track the age of products and automatically rotate them according to the FIFO method. This can help ensure that products are always being used or sold in the correct order.
  6. Remove expired products: Remove expired products from inventory and dispose of them properly. This helps avoid the risk of selling expired products and ensures that inventory is managed effectively.

By using a FIFO checklist, businesses can ensure that they are correctly managing their inventory and reducing the risk of spoilage, waste, and other inventory-related issues.

How to apply the FIFO rule in the food processing industry?

In order to establish FIFO rule (First In, First Out) in any food industry, the following steps are taken:

  1. Labeling: Put labels on raw materials and ingredients indicating their production or expiry date. This ensures that older batches are used first, reducing the chances of waste and spoilage.
  2. Storage: Store food products in a manner that older batches are used first, e.g. stacking old ones in the front and new ones behind them. 
  3. Effective training: Training employees on the significance of FIFO and guiding them regarding how the food products are to be rotated could turn out in favor of the business owner.
  4. Inventory management system: Use an automated inventory management system to track the shelf-life and age of the food products and their ingredients. This helps to automatically rotate them according to the FIFO method. 
  5. Inventory checks: In order to keep a good check and balance, conduct regular inventory checks to ensure that the FIFO method is being utilized effectively.

By applying the FIFO rule in the food processing industry, business owners can rest assured that their business is running smoothly, in accordance with the food safety standards and nothing goes wasted, ensuring customer satisfaction and loyalty.

What are the best FIFO examples?

Here are some of the best FIFO examples:

Food industry: Restaurants and other small-scale eateries usually stock raw materials and ingredients in bulk which is why they have to be extra vigilant in terms of maintaining food quality and standards. Therefore, they use the FIFO method to rotate their inventory of fresh food materials to make sure that the oldest products are used first to reduce the chances of spoilage. This helps maintain quality and customer trust.  

Retail industry: Retailers, another one of FIFO examples, have to avoid products going to waste, especially in cases of products such as cosmetics, medicines, and food since they, if expired, have the potential to cause serious harm to the health of the user. Therefore, they use the FIFO method that helps them organize their products according to the order received and never fear old products getting pushed down by the new ones.

Manufacturing industry: Manufacturers widely use the FIFO method to maintain the quality of their products by efficiently utilizing their raw materials and components. It helps them keep track of the material used and they are free from the worries of facing losses or running out of essential elements. It is most commonly practiced in manufacturing industries such as electronics and pharmaceuticals, where components have a limited shelf life.

Accounting industry: Here comes COGS: the Cost of Goods Sold; FIFO allows accountants to calculate this score and inventory value. This helps reduce tax liability and clearly defines the company’s financial performance.

Warehouse industry: Warehouses are known to stack goods and materials in bulk which increases the chances of mass expiry if the materials are kept for a long time without being used. FIFO helps the warehouse keeper organize the goods and ship them in the order they were received, minimizing the risk of late or delayed shipments.

How to gain the best Food safety storage compliance with EcoDocs?

Folio3’s EcoDocs, a cloud-based compliance management software, is a system designed specifically for the food industry to help it comply with the set food safety regulations. 

Here are the steps EcoDocs remains the best food compliance management software: 


  1. Implement a food safety plan: EcoDocs professionally designs a food safety plan that covers all essential areas including:
    Food safety
    Food storage
    Food handling
    Food processing
  2. Monitor compliance: EcoDocs keeps a strict check and balance to help businesses monitor compliance with food safety regulations. It sends real-time notifications to the owners whenever there are any potential threats such as expired products or improper food storage conditions.
  3. Training employees: Employees working in a company must be aware of the food safety regulations and best practices; therefore, training them in this area is the responsibility of the company itself. Through training, the employees can be well-skilled in following the correct practices including storing, handling, and processing food.
  4. Monitor storage conditions: EcoDocs smartly monitors the food storage conditions such as:
    – Temperature
    – Moisture
    – Humidity

    This is important so that the food products are stored in a way that maintains their quality and standard.
    EcoDocs sends alerts to the owners, notifying them when the conditions cross the acceptable ranges.

  5. Conduct regular inspections: EcoDocs allows businesses to schedule regular inspections of their storage facilities to ensure compliance with regulatory standards. 

By using EcoDocs, businesses can ensure that they are complying with all relevant food safety regulations and best practices, reducing the risk of foodborne illness and protecting their reputation.


To summarize everything, FIFO, which refers to “First In, First Out”, is a well-known technique in the food processing industry that helps maintain the quality of the food products so that any potential health hazards are eliminated. With its help, older products can be used and sold earlier and hence, waste and spoilage threats are reduced and the shelf-life of the products is maximized.

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