Although food safety and the origin of products are often the focus of attention at home, we often tend to ignore the crucial phase of keeping food in the refrigerator. Because there are potential risks there too. To protect yourself from this, it is better to know the best practices for storing food in the refrigerator.
For optimal food preservation, it is important to follow a few rules such as placing products in the right temperature zone, packing yogurts, observing expiration dates and other simple tips that are always good to give to others, so that fresh products last. and avoid waste.
Check the temperature regularly
To keep food fresh, the thermostat must be set to a maximum of 5 degrees. Check if the indoor temperature remains between 0 and 4 ° C – at this temperature the most efficient reduction of harmful bacteria and molds (salmonella, listeria, etc.) is achieved – or, in any case, below 7 ° C.
Arrange the food correctly in the refrigerator
The way you organize food in the refrigerator can help you keep it longer and save on your energy bill, as well as reduce the risk of cross-contamination between different types of food.
Certain types of fruits and vegetables can be damaged or modified by the cold. Contrary to popular belief, many foods should not be placed in the refrigerator, such as bread or bananas. Place the items you use most often in the front of the refrigerator. This reduces the amount of time the door is kept open and helps keep the refrigerator cool.
The cold air descends to the bottom of the appliance, so the most sensitive foods with health risks must be placed in the coldest area of the refrigerator: below 4 ° C. These are raw meat and fish, homemade products based on animal products with raw eggs (mayonnaise), meat dishes in sauce.
Mayonnaise can only be stored in the refrigerator for 24 hours. After that, it is absolutely necessary to throw it away. If it has been left for too long (more than 2 hours) at room temperature, you may as well throw it away immediately. It is a real nest for bacteria and other microorganisms. Even the addition of vinegar or lemon juice, which is mandatory at the end of cooking mayonnaise, only slows down the proliferation, but does not prevent it.
Place recently purchased items behind older ones, so you can use older foods first. If you wash fruits and vegetables before putting them in the refrigerator, dry them first with paper towels.
Use the door to store less perishable foods that you want to keep cold: spices, wine, beer and soft drinks, for example. Store milk, eggs and dairy products on a central shelf. Do not store them in the door, because here the temperature can fluctuate a lot depending on the closed / open position of the door.
Cover the glass shelves of the refrigerator with a layer of plastic wrap. In case of dirt, simply remove and replace the plastic cover. If you do not have a No Frost refrigerator, defrost it regularly, according to the manufacturer's instructions. Keep food expiration dates on top, but don't just rely on them. If a food has an unusual appearance or odor, discard it. It is not worth taking a risk associated with various potential microbes.
Cartons around yogurts, plastic packaging or any other material that groups the products must be removed before entering the refrigerator. These additional packages are actually carriers of microorganisms after they have been transported, stored and handled from the factory to your home, but before you the cashier, the warehouse handler, the delivery people have been in contact with the packaging. So they have nothing to look for in the fridge.
Another reason to remove them is that they impede the proper circulation of cold air in the refrigerator and take up space. Therefore, it is not recommended to overload the device.
There is no problem to put the rest of the pasta in tomato sauce or a slice of ham, or even a piece of cheese placed in a bowl or plate directly in the refrigerator, without them being covered. Partially consumed food should be protected by plastic wrap or placed in airtight boxes or any other box with a lid.
The aim is to avoid bacterial contamination, but also the transfer of odors, even if, for example, some Beko refrigerators (you can find a list of some models analyzed here ) are equipped with functions to combat unpleasant odors. Some foods are very sensitive to it, such as butter, for example, which tends to take the taste of the cheese next to it if it is not covered and if it is not in a pan. Open cans do not take place in the refrigerator. Their contents will be better stored in a bowl or any other container with a lid.
Plastic films are very practical to put on plates, bowls, dishes that contain leftovers, even if they are not a panacea in terms of environmental protection. Use them sparingly or replace them with a saucepan or other packaging. Baking paper, for example, works wonders for wrapping vegetables (previously washed) and cheeses.
Glass or porcelain containers are clearly preferable to plastic ones, which are certainly practical, but which may contain bisphenol. Try not to reheat food in plastic boxes.
Cool the food before putting it in the fridge
If the food is still hot, its heat immediately causes condensation, which raises the temperature of the refrigerator. However, these hot foods should not remain more than 2 hours after cooking at room temperature. They may contain spores (especially Clostridium perfringens ) capable of germinating and producing toxins.
Preparations based on meat, fish, eggs, cheese, tomatoes, but also rice, must be stored cold before developing these toxins. To make them cool faster, divide the dish into several portions or cool it in a container with ice water.