It is really important to make sure, when storing food in the fridge that it is done correctly. The problem is so many people just shrug this off, thinking it is too easy a subject to pay too much attention to. However, storing food incorrectly can lead to a lot of issues, not least problems with your health, i.e. food poisoning, as well as making your food go off a lot faster and the contamination of other food stuffs too.
Therefore, it is a good idea to pay attention to how you store your food and get it right every time. The following tips will help you do this:
1. Check storing directions as soon as you get the food home
It’s important to get food that requires refrigeration into the fridge ASAP after you have bought it. This is not to say you should be racing home from the supermarket in a panic your food is going to go off, or come into contact with bacteria though. If you just make sure you stick to the two hour rule, i.e. making sure your food is not sat out at room temperature for more than a two hour period, you will be just fine. The two hour rule should also be applied to food being left out, after meals, to cool down.
2. Ensure you’re storing food at the correct temperature
Your fridge always needs to be kept at the correct temperature, which should be 5° C or below. The temperature will vary depending on how much you have stored in the fridge, so you will need to keep an eye on the temperature to make sure it is not too warm, or too cold. You can easily find an inexpensive appliance thermometer to help you do this.
It can be hard to keep your fridge full (not overstocked!) all the time, which means it is hard to keep it at a consistent temperature. A good trick to help keep your fridge at a consistent temperature is to fill up bottles with tap water and just store them, taking them out and putting them back as needed. This works because it means your fridge doesn’t have to work so hard keeping lots of empty space cool, instead the bottles retain the cool temperature and help this to circulate.
3. Eat high-risk foods as soon as you can
So many people are unaware of the foods they should be eating within a few days of buying. The problem is many ready-to-eat foods, such as ready meals and prepared salads are more susceptible to bacterium such as Listeria. Listeria is a bacterium that causes serious health problem if humans come into contact with it. This is especially dangerous for pregnant women, the elderly, babies and those with weak immune systems.
Examples of high-risk foods:
– Any raw meat
– Cooked meat, especially chicken and pork in leftover meals
– Dairy foodstuffs, i.e. tarts and cake including cream, cheese and eggs
– Eggs and food derived from eggs, i.e. quiche
– Cooked rice and pasta
– Prepared salads and ready-to-eat foods, i.e. coleslaw, pasta salads, sandwiches, sausage rolls and pizza.
4. Check your fridge every day for spoiled food
You need to be on high alert for any foods that look or smell a bit wrong in your fridge. Ideally, you should check this every day and throw out anything you are unsure of. The problem is, anything ‘off’ that is left in your fridge will not only continue to spoil itself but it may go on to contaminate all the foods around it too. Be aware of all of the use-by dates on your food and be sure to get rid of anything at the first sign of mould.
5. Additional fridge tips
The following tips are easy to follow and will help you keep your foodstuffs for longer and ensure you don’t become unwell eating them:
– Always marinate your food in the fridge
This prevents food getting up to room temperature, which is where bacteria thrive and multiply rapidly.
– Clean your fridge out once a week
If you clean your fridge regularly, you will be limiting the amount of bacteria that can grow. Always make sure you clean up any spills and leakages ASAP too, otherwise these will be an immediate home for bacterium such as Listeria.
– Make sure you always cover your food
All food going into your fridge needs to be covered up in foil or cling film, or inside a sealed bag or container. This will help prevent foods contaminating one another and is especially important in keeping raw foods apart from cooked food.
James writes for Accessible Hire. When not writing about cold store hire, he can often be found trying to cram as much food as possible into his fridge–safely, of course.