Do you have a science experiment growing inside your fridge? A dirty fridge is like a Petri dish for the bacteria that cause food-borne illness.
It’s important to know how to keep your refrigerator food-friendly.
Read on for a few ideas.
What lurks in the refrigerator
Food-borne illness caused by kitchen contamination happens more often than you might think. What we often think is just a stomach bug may actually be a mild case of food poisoning.
According to the Journal of the American Dietetic Association, food-borne illness makes 76 million people sick every year and causes 5,000 deaths. And according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, food prepared at home is three times more likely to make you sick than food eaten out at a restaurant.
Refrigerator cleaning tips
Refrigerators are designed to help keep your food fresh and safe, but they require regular maintenance to stay in top condition.
Consider these tips:
- Clean the refrigerator with a mild bleach and water solution every one to two weeks to keep bacteria in check. Research shows that vegetable bins, meat drawers and the bottom shelf are usually the most bacteria-ridden spaces in a fridge.
- Wipe up any spills immediately to avoid cross-contamination.
- Use all food by the expiration date, and check your fridge for old food every time you clean it, tossing out expired items.
- Place thermometers in your fridge and freezer, and check them to make sure the temperature is safe. A refrigerator should always remain below 40 degrees Fahrenheit, and a safe freezer should be zero degrees.
Safety starts at the store
Be mindful that safe food storage really begins at the grocery store. No matter how often you clean your refrigerator, you can still get sick if the food you’re storing in it is already spoiled when it comes home from the store.
Experts recommend starting your shopping trips in the middle aisles, grabbing room temperature goods first. Grab your frozen and refrigerated items last so that they don’t sit out and start to spoil during your shopping trip and the ride home. Put items in the refrigerator immediately when you get home. Don’t overstuff the fridge, as this can raise the temperature inside the unit, allowing bacteria to grow.
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