Limiting Foodborne Illness Potential In Your Refrigerator

Posted on November 8, 2013

The Food and Drug Administration has come out with an update to a page dedicated to the prevention of foodborne illness.  The report focuses on those threats related to the unsafe storage of frozen and refrigerated foods.  If your own refrigerator has gotten full or it’s been quite some time since you’ve cleaned out the appliance, then understanding the tips on hand will be essential.

The FDA first acknowledges the importance of having a refrigerator thermometer in place so that you know food is being stored at the optimum temperature.  Many people will take it for granted that their fridge is keeping things cool, but units that have been in use for years and years may struggle to keep the temperature as low as it needs to be.  With a thermometer, you can determine if the refrigerator is keeping products below 40 degrees and if the freezer is maintaining the necessary zero degrees.

Citizens are asked to place an emphasis on knowing the expiration dates of products in the refrigerator on a regular basis so that something doesn’t get shoved to the back and overstay its welcome.  Every couple of weeks, or perhaps on a monthly basis at the very least, conduct an inventory of what you have inside the unit.  Anything that has expired ought to be tossed, as should any ready-to-eat products that have been open more than a few days or leftovers that have sat untouched since they were placed inside.

This also helps to reduce the risk of another potentially serious problem, which is that created by packing too much stuff into the fridge.  During a power outage, packing things in tightly in the freezer is great because it helps to keep the cold centered.  But with the refrigerator, you’re preventing the circulation of cold air that can serve to keep temperatures down where they need to be.

Cleaning has to take place the moment that some type of food or liquid spills.  If a wet spot is allowed to fester inside the fridge, bacteria could form and then make its way onto nearby products.  This is especially true when it comes to uncooked meat.  Any juices that could prove patently unsafe to the nearby area, and this cross-contamination threat should not be underestimated.

Understand that you have about two hours before a food product removed from a cool environment needs to be stored.  That decreases to an hour when the temperature outside rises to more than 90 degrees.  This rule applies to groceries you’ve bought from the store, leftovers from a recently prepared meal, and food you’ve taken home from restaurants.

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