Spoiled or contaminated food is estimated to cause up to 325,000 hospitalizations in the United States every year (source), which is why food storage safety is so important. Food poisoning is no laughing matter and poses a serious risk to even the healthiest of individuals. For young children, pregnant women, the elderly, and anyone with a weak immune system, food poisoning can be life threatening. Thankfully, up to a quarter of food-borne illnesses can be prevented by implementing safety standards in the home. Restaurants have to be up to code – why should your home kitchen be any different?
Food Storage Safety
1. Thaw in the Fridge
Bacteria thrives in temperatures between 40 and 140 degrees, which means that you shouldn’t leave food sitting out on the counter for longer than two hours. It also means that your fridge will need to be set to a temperature of 40 degrees or lower. Always thaw your frozen foods in the refrigerator the night before versus leaving them in the sink. Thawing at room temperature allows bacteria to invade the warming parts of the food while the frozen parts are still thawing.
2. Seal it Up
When you put foods away in the fridge, be sure to seal them properly. Sealed plastic bags and air-tight containers work well. Be sure to remove as much excess air from bags as possible. If you have access to a vacuum sealer, it will help keep foods fresh for a bit longer.
3. Keep Everything Labeled
Ideally, you’ll want to use up any leftovers in the fridge within two to three days. You can help yourself stick to this goal by labeling your leftovers by date. If you don’t want to take the time to label everything, try placing your newer leftovers in the back of the fridge and moving everything forward as you use it.
4. Clean the Fridge
It’s a good idea to clean your fridge regularly to ensure that everything stays bacteria free. This can be done using a solution made from bleach and water or an all-natural kitchen cleaning solution. Always immediately wipe up anything that spills in the fridge. Otherwise, it could lead to contamination.
5. Shop Smart
Most people don’t pay enough attention to the freshness of the items they buy at the grocery store. You might assume that an item must be fresh if it’s on the store shelf, but that isn’t always the case. Human error is always a factor, and sometimes the people who stock the shelves miss something. Always check the sell-by dates on perishable items, and never purchase canned items that are dented or bulging. If you buy eggs, make sure they are not cracked.
6. Don’t Stuff the Fridge
A fridge full of food is a sign that you’re doing great in life, but it’s important to not overfill. A stuffed fridge can overheat due to a lack of air circulation. If temperatures begin to creep upward, food can spoil without you realizing it.
Use these food storage safety tips in your home kitchen every day, and be sure to share them with your family members or roommates. In addition, consider sharing them with your coworkers so that your break room and community kitchen remain clean and safe.
Finally, remember the importance of regularly cleaning your kitchen. Don’t have time to routinely scrub and sterilize the surfaces in your kitchen? Consider calling in the pros. If you live in or near Springfield, Missouri, give the cleaning professionals at Grime Scrubbers a call. We offer a variety of cleaning services, including kitchen, carpet, and upholstery cleaning. You can reach us at 417-864-8862 or click here for a free quote.