Your fridge’s chief duty is slowing the growth of bacteria such as salmonella, e-coli and botulinum in food, ultimately ensuring that your consumables remain just that! Not taking the care to ensure your refrigerator is doing its job properly is a seriously chilling prospect, so here’s our guide to how you can get the best out of your fridge
Clean your fridge
Regularly cleaning your refrigerator – such as wiping away food spills, stains, or any mould – will make sure your fridge is safe and bacteria-free, preventing the spread of bacteria onto other foods.
To enhance this cleaning process, it’s recommended you use anti-bacteria cleaning products or bleach to ensure you’re being thorough about it, accompanied with hot soapy water. Give it one good proper clean at least every six months to guarantee your fridge stays clean, bacteria-free and safe.
Set your fridge at the ideal temperature
Ideally your fridge should be set to 40°F (5°C) or lower because it’s at this temperature when the prevention of the growth of harmful bacteria is most successful. Some fridges also have a built-in thermometer that monitors its internal temperature. If yours doesn’t have one, you can always opt for an appliance thermometer, which are designed specifically to monitor and supply accurate refrigerator temperatures.
Store your food properly
Containers, like tupperware boxes, are an ideal way to make sure your foods aren’t cross contaminating. Having raw meat, including fish, close to other consumables, such as cooked foods, can be dangerous as it inhabits several bacteria, such as salmonella, from the gut of the animal which, if passed onto other foods, can cause serious infections and even food poisoning. So, it’s always best to keep raw meats separated. The bottom shelf would be preferable, and particularly crucial if the meat in question is not contained within boxes, since the juice from the raw meat can’t drip onto other foods. However, containers are the best way to keep your food uncontaminated and safe in your fridge. Sealing the containers as tightly as possible will also mean there’s less chance of cross contamination, as well as ensuring the moisture in the meat is retained.
What would also be advisable is to keep the different kinds of raw meat – fish, poultry, beef, etc – all separated from one another too, to avoid juices from one kind of meat running into another. Plastic resealable bags or pouches are available to buy, which will help retain even more space in your fridge!
Sell-by and use-by dates. Should we take them seriously?
First thing to note is that when a best before date is passed, it doesn’t mean that the food will be harmful; it simply means that the food is likely not to taste at its best. And, sell-by dates help shop assistants rotate stock.
Use-by dates, on the other hand, indicate when food could pose a health risk. According to the Food Standards Agency, however, around a third of UK consumers (over 20m people) are prepared to eat food based on the way it looks and smells instead of checking its use-by date. And the reason more of us don’t get food poisoning is because most manufacturers keep their food under perfect conditions, making it safe for at least a few days after its use-by date.
Get rid of older food
If the food in your fridge is too old, it will become spoiled, go mouldy, and start to grow bacteria. The spreading of bacteria and mould will undoubtedly contaminate other foods, and likely spoil them too. A common practice in supermarkets is to move the oldest stock to the front of the shelf, to ensure as little waste of food and drink as possible. There’s no reason why you shouldn’t do the very same thing at home with the food in your own fridge. Moving the oldest food to the front will ensure that the food will last longer and will reduce unnecessary spending of your money too! You might even go as far as to label the containers/packets of food in the fridge with the original sell-by and use-by dates.
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