Food safety is something that is vital when it comes to food manufacturing, but at home it can sometimes be overlooked. Storing food in the fridge keeps it chilled and slows down the growth of bacteria. When bacteria grows in food, once consumed there is a high risk of illness. While some foods can be stored in a clean, dry cupboard, foods that are labelled with "keep refrigerated" or with 'Use-by' dates must be stored in the fridge.
Have a read at some of the tips below to ensure you are storing your food correctly to keep you and your family safe while you enjoying delicious food!
Ensure your fridge is at 5°C or below
Maintaining the correct temperature in your fridge ensures that you are keeping the food inside safe. Once you have set the temperature to below 5°C, make a conscious effort to keep the fridge door closed. Every time the door is opened for a period of time the temperature will begin to rise inside the fridge, disrupting the cooling process.
Always make sure food has cooled down before placing it into the fridge. Hot foods will increase the temperature of the fridge. Leave any hot foods covered at room temperature for approx. 2-3 hours or until fully cooled before placing into the fridge.
-Remember to date any hot foods/leftovers that are placed in the fridge and consume within 3 days.
Don’t overpack the fridge!
Cold air circulates around a fridge to keep it cool. When a fridge is too full the air cannot circulate correctly. This means that the food stored in the fridge cannot be adequately chilled.
Tips to not overpack the fridge
- Only store foods in the fridge that must be kept refrigerated.
- Make a list when shopping - this will help to ensure that you purchase only the necessities
- Freeze leftovers or any food that you won’t consume before the Use By date. Freezing food delays spoilage and keeps food safe by slowing down the enzyme activity that causes food to go off and preventing the growth of microorganisms.
Store food on the correct shelf
It is important that foods are stored correctly within the fridge to avoid any food safety issues.
Any raw meat, fish or poultry should be stored on the bottom shelf. This is to ensure that they do not touch, drip or leak onto any other foods. If you open the packaging or purchase any raw meats loose, always store them in a sealed, airtight container.
Dairy products such as yogurt, butter or cheese should be kept on the middle shelf along with any cooked meats. If you have leftovers, once cooled, these can also be placed on the middle shelf.
Store any fresh fruit and vegetables in the lower baskets in the fridge. This will ensure they are kept at the lowest temperature and are protected from any drips from raw meat.
Check Use-By and Best-Before Dates
Understanding 'Best-Before' and 'Use-By' dates is a great tool to reduce your food waste and ensure that the food you consume is safe. The Use-By date is the one to look out for as it is used for products that are highly perishable. This will indicate the date by which the product needs to be consumed. Typically fresh meat, dairy, and fish are products that will have a clear Use-By date on the packaging.
The Best Before date is a recommendation of when the food product should be consumed to ensure that the quality of the product has not been affected. After this date, the product is still safe to consume, however, some sensory or physical attributes may have changed.