Food Safety

In an earlier blog post we talked about freezing, but we haven’t really talked about refrigerating… enter today’s blog…

Perishable foods, which include anything that you purchased from the refrigerator section of the grocery store plus any opened cans, open jars, open bottles, take-out food and leftover prepared foods all should be refrigerated within two (2) hours of opening (or completion of cooking).

That’s the basic rule that applies to all perishable foods, but there are other things that you should keep in mind.

Food Safety

Food Safety - Food Preparation

First of all, keep your fridge healthy:

  • It should remain at temperature of 40°F or below. Temperatures at or below 40°F slow the growth of most bacteria.

  • Don’t stuff your fridge too full, cold air must be able to circulate in order to keep your food safe.

  • Make sure that the seal on your fridge is still flexible, so it’s airtight when closed.

  • Food Safety When grocery shopping:

  • Try to hit the refrigerator and freezer sections after you’re done with the other isles. Try to pack these items together and then unload them first.

  • If you live in a hot climate, you may want to keep an insulated bag in the car to use for getting your highly perishable items home safely.

  • Most stores provide small plastic bags, use these to protect juicy items like fresh meat from leaking out, contaminating and ruining other items like fresh bread.

  • Food Safety

    Food Safety When cooking:

  • Always wash your hands with soap and warm water before touching food.

  • Always rinse fresh fruits and vegetables before consuming, especially if eating them raw. Many of them, for instance spinach and lettuce, can carry dangerous bacteria like E-coli. We even recommend rinsing bagged leafy vegetables that are “pre-washed”. A salad spinner can come in handy to wash and dry your veggies.

  • Keep your counters and sponges clean. Sponges can be microwaved or placed in the dishwasher to kill germs, but not the ones where one side is a scrubber – the fibers can damage your appliances.

  • Keep utensils clean, washing in between and using separate ones for separate ingredients.
  • Food Safety When storing:

  • When putting items away at home, try to seal them as tightly as possible and force the air out before sealing. Oxygen is a major food spoiler.

  • If your leftovers are still warm, store them in shallow containers to allow for speedier cooling. Again, refrigerate within 2 hours.

  • Some foods, like pasta, will continue to cook if put into a tightly closed container when still warm so leave the lid off or allow air to vent from an open corner until cool.

  • Try to eat your fresh foods first and pay attention to their eat by date. Use our tables to help, but don’t forget the “if in doubt, toss it out” motto for anything that looks or smells decayed.
  • Keep reading for important food safety handling for specific foods.

    Food Safety - Some Foods Need Special Attention

    **Additional Important Food Safety Information**

  • Wash your hands again each and every time after touching any raw meat, poultry, seafood or eggs.

  • Pay special attention to juicy foods, such as beef, pork, lamb, chicken, turkey, fish and shellfish.

    The grocery store packaging for these items can quickly leak all over your refrigerator. The raw juices from these items quite often contain harmful bacteria that can contaminate your other foods in the process if they leak. So, seal your fresh meats in sealed plastic bags or airtight containers to both keep them fresh and protect the rest of your groceries.

  • When marinating these fresh meats, poultry and seafood be sure to do so in the refrigerator. After marinating, then be sure to throw away any excess marinade that was used to marinate.

  • If your meats, poultry or seafood were frozen – never defrost them at room temperature. Use your refrigerator or a bowl of cold water that is changed every 30 minutes, or your microwave on the defrost cycle.

  • Wash and sanitize all work surfaces after they come in contact with raw meat, poultry, seafood or eggs.

    This is very important for cutting boards. Plastic cutting boards that are color coded are ideal for use with these items. Always use the same color for these items and then sanitize them in the dishwasher after each use. Then always use a different color cutting board for your fresh fruits and vegetables. Wooden boards can harbor bacteria from raw meat products.

  • Always cook foods thoroughly.

    A thermometer is best to test the internal temperature of meats (at least 160°F and poultry (at least 165°F). For a visual test – ground meat is done when it turns brown, poultry when the juices run clear, fish when it flakes with a fork and eggs when they are no longer runny. But the visual test is not as accurate as a meat thermometer and meats can contain bacteria unless they reach a high enough temperature to destroy the bacteria.

  • To find out how long other foods are good for, please visit the Dairy, Drinks, Fruits, Grains, Proteins, Vegetables and Other sections of Eat By Date or use the search function below.

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