Do you know what’s in your refrigerator? Outdated sauces, expired dairy products, rotting fruits and veggies and bacteria – it’s all there at one time or another for most people.
Fridge food safety tips
Check out Safe Food’s best tips for keeping your fridge spick and span.
Keeping it clean
Few people take the time to clean their refrigerator properly, meaning with soap, bleach and hot water. Because germs are introduced to this appliance daily, it is important to routinely clean it just like you do the rest of your home. Clean up spills as soon as they occur, and take the time to wipe down drawers and door trays.
The right temperature
Many people don’t understand the dangers of improper food storage, and this includes managing the correct temperature settings. You can reduce the potential for food-borne illness by keeping your refrigerator running at 4-5 degrees, and your freezer at zero degrees or lower. Opening the door continually makes it is easy for temperatures to fluctuate, so it’s a good idea to check the temperature to make sure the thermostat is correct.
Where should I put stuff?
The location of your food in the fridge is key to food safety. Here are our pointers:
- Store products such as yoghurt, butter, cheese, dips and snacks on the top shelf.
- Place cooked foods and leftover dishes above any raw meat, poultry or seafood.
- Store all raw meat, poultry, fish and seafood products on the bottom shelf of the fridge.
- Be sure to leave raw products in their original packaging and also place inside a plastic bag to prevent any leaking juices dripping on other foods.
- Store fruit and vegetables separately from other products. Store vegetables in the bottom crisper drawers.
- Do not store eggs in the egg trays on the inside of the refrigerator door. The temperature here is higher than other parts of the fridge and fluctuates with frequent door opening. Keep eggs in their original carton and place near the top of the refrigerator.
- Store fruit drinks, bottled drinks, products in jars, sauces, condiments and products with a longer shelf life on the shelves and in the compartments on the inside of the fridge door.
Check your use-by dates
Consider the use-by dates on product labels carefully. Condiments and sauces can sit in the fridge for months before being completely consumed. Check the dates, and throw the product out immediately if it has changed flavour, odour or appearance.
A use-by date is a recommendation by the manufacturer to use the product before that date for best quality.
What to stock
When it comes to produce, fresh is not always best if you can’t consume it fast enough. Consider only purchasing fresh fruits and vegetables you will eat within a week. Frozen vegetables are good to have on hand to add to casseroles, pizzas and stir-fries. If you do not expect to eat meat or poultry within two to four days of purchasing, consider freezing it for later use. Avoid buying large portions of easily spoiled ingredients like dairy and fish.
Avoid food waste and food-borne illness (and save money too!) by making a grocery list before you go to the store. Without excess and uneaten foods in the refrigerator, cleaning up and cleaning out is a much easier task.