Food Safety Tips: Spring Cleaning
With the arrival of Spring (though in the Northeast, we have yet to see the supplemental weather!), there are a number of suggestions, food safety tips, and strategies for ensuring the safety and quality of refrigerated food. We'll focus on a few maintenance-minded tips that surround the cleaning and upkeep of your refrigerator. These food safety tips are consolidated from homefoodsafety.org, and we sincerely urge you to visit their website for additional pointers. To frame these tips properly, we'll begin with this blurb:
"A survey conducted by The Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics (formerly the American Dietetic Association), found that most consumers don't understand the consequences of storing foods at an incorrect temperature. Just four out of 10 consumers recognize that eating food stored in a refrigerator with a temperature higher than 40°F would increase the likelihood of foodborne illness. According to experts, cold temperatures (40°F or below) keep harmful bacteria from growing."
As a general note, given the seasonal fluctuation of temperatures within a refrigerator, a temperature monitoring device or thermometer is one strategy for ensuring safe temperature storage. Temperatures within the refrigerator (door versus bottom rack, etc) may vary, but the best place for the sensor is likely on the middle rack. This location will give a generalized reading that may be applicable for the home and the small business, but be sure to inspect the technical manual for each refrigerator. This will contain the official details from the manufacturer and may indicate otherwise (for sensor placement).
Clean all inside drawers, shelves, and walls of the refrigerator with warm water and soap. Never use specialized cleaning materials (anti-disinfectant) on the inside of the refrigerator, as the chemical residue can linger and subsequently contaminate the stored food.
If possible, keep defrosting meats on the bottom shelves/drawers of the refrigerator. The dripping of raw meat juices is a dangerous hazard to other stored foods, and if this happens, the entire refrigerator must be re-cleaned thoroughly to exterminate any remnants of the raw meat.
If you haven't checked the back regions of your refrigerator (that is, for a few months) because of overcrowding, now is the perfect time to collect and evaluate. If possible, keep expiration dates clearly labeled on all stored foods to make disposal an easy process.
Never rely on smell, taste, or any other visual cue to determine whether food is still fresh, or has expired. If an expiration sticker is absent, use your best judgment with timing. Unless you have precise knowledge of when the food was purchased and stored (meaning the exact date), the best option is to throw it away. The risks associated with assumption or estimation in food safety are not worth the reward, and as the saying goes, "when in doubt, throw it out!"
For more information on Temperature@lert's temperature monitoring systems, please visit our homepage or call us at 866-524-3540. We have experts in-house with many years of HVAC/R experience to assist you with your monitoring needs and concerns.