Think back to a time when you found an aluminum foil-covered plate sitting on the back shelf of your refrigerator. When you pulled the foil off were you in shock with what you saw?
Don’t feel bad. You’re not alone. We all have good intentions of eating last night’s dinner, but being so busy, there’s a good chance you probably forgot about it and left it to decompose in the back of the refrigerator.
The best way to prevent food poisoning is to ensure the food you’re keeping in your refrigerator is fresh and is still in date.
Yes, moldy food is a disgusting topic to discuss, but did you know that it’s one of the top leading causes of salmonella, botulism, and E. Coli?
Did you know, by keeping rotting food in your refrigerator you could be ready to give you or your family the gift of a foodborne illness?
That’s a gift as welcome as an old fruitcake at Christmas.
6 easy-peasy-lemon-squeezy ways to prevent giving you and your family a foodborne illness
Over-stuffing your refrigerator.
I don’t have this problem in my household since it’s just 2 of us and we buy our food as we need it, but most people aren’t like me. A lot of people have “hoarding” tendencies when it comes to food and seemingly overstuff their refrigerator.
Cold air needs to be able to circulate through the refrigerator. A packed refrigerator is not allowing the cold air to flow the entire contents; therefore, allowing bacteria to form. When a refrigerator is packed to capacity, there are times you can’t tell what’s fresh and what’s not.
Putting Fruits and Vegetables in the same bin.
There are 2 bins for a reason. Fruits release a gas called ethylene which will make your vegetables rot quicker. Don’t believe me? Just put a cucumber in the same drawer as apples and within 2 weeks the cucumber will be liquid.
Aside from being really gross, this is a big deal when it comes to preventing foodborne illness.
I know a lot of people like to wash their produce before putting it away. Most of us don’t want to be bothered by washing our produce before eating it; especially when we’re hungry.
When I say most of us, I’m actually saying…I do this.
The reason you don’t want to wash the produce first is bacteria loves moisture, but our gut doesn’t like that type of bad bacteria. This type of bacteria will have you racing to the bathroom every 3 minutes.
Storing eggs in the door.
I’m not sure who invented the egg bin that sits in the side door of most refrigerators, but they should have taken a lesson in food safety before making them. Sure, they’re cute and functional, but so are the egg cartons.
The reason why they shouldn’t be placed in the door is that it’s too warm there. The best place to keep eggs would be in their original carton in the back of the refrigerator.
The improper storage of eggs is the number one culprit causing foodborne illness.
Keeping the refrigerator at the correct temperature.
Okay, this is a big one to prevent foodborne illness. Let’s get real here when was the last time you actually checked the temperature on your refrigerator? I’m not talking just looking at the temperature display, I’m talking about getting a fully functional refrigerator thermometer reading.
Bacteria thrive in temperatures above 40°F, so it’s crucial to keep your refrigerator between 32°F and 40°F. Now, let’s not forget the freezer which should always be kept either at 0°F or below zero. I always have mine -3°.
Check your readings monthly to ensure everything is up to par.
Keeping your raw meat on the top two shelves.
You did know to prevent foodborne illness and possible contamination of your kitchen counters, sinks and anything else that can be cross-contaminated, you must ALWAYS defrost all meats and poultry in the refrigerator. DO NOT defrost it on the kitchen counter overnight. If you need to defrost it quickly, then you can do so in a sink full of cold water, but try not to do that. Make something else for dinner. You may want to check out my earlier post The Best Way To Defrost Meat Without Being Sick Like A Dog, where I go into a little more detail about defrosting meat.
The reason you should never keep raw meat on the upper shelves is when it’s defrosting the juices can drip down and contaminate your other food. By practice, always keep your frozen meat in its original packaging and place it on a plate on the bottom rack.
Have you cleaned your refrigerator this year?
How does hair get into the refrigerator? Is it just mine that attracts my hair. Weird..anyway, it’s super important to clean out and wash the entire contents of your refrigerator and freezer on an annual basis. If you’d like to learn how to sanitize your refrigerator, you may want to read How To Destroy Kitchen Germs and Bacteria.
Sure, probably no one but me likes to actually clean and sanitize their refrigerator, but you’ll be amazed at what treasures you’ll find stuck to the bottom of the vegetable bins.
When cleaning, do not use harsh abrasives. If you’re not going to sanitize your refrigerator, you can clean it out with some warm soapy water. Just make sure you remove the soap before putting your food back. Never use Windex, 409 or any other type of household cleaner to do a surface cleaning in your refrigerator.
While you’re at it, pull the grill off the bottom of the refrigerator, wash and scrape off all the grunge (i.e. stuck on jam, ketchup, maple syrup).
I know you take precautions to keep our loved ones from getting sick, and most times we’ll usually say, “I must have caught a stomach bug from the shopping cart at Walmart”? I will bet 9 out of 10 times, it wasn’t caused by a bug from someone else. I’m sure it was caused by improper food storage and the raw chicken you left defrosting over the blueberries.
I hope this educated you on how to prevent foodborne illness. I’d love to know what tips you may have for proper food storage.
What do you do to keep your food safe? Share in a comment.
Until we meet again,