Food safety and your home: is your refrigerator spoiling your food and making you sick?

The recent rash of stories about tainted food products has heightened awareness of the need for better food safety and monitoring.  While we depend on food makers, growers and producers along with government agencies such as the FDA to keep us safe, we need to also insure that the food we buy is prepared and cared for properly once we leave the market.

According to this story from MSN Health and Fitness, “Food Safety Fears? Look in Your Fridge,” “experts say that it is far more common to get a foodborne illness (food poisoning) from food that has become contaminated in our homes.”

Here are some tips from the story to make sure that you are storing food properly.

  • “The temperature inside your refrigerator should be 40ºF or below, and your freezer 0ºF or below. Temperatures beyond this allow harmful bacteria to multiply.” Purchase a refrigerator/freezer thermometer in order to check for proper temperatures.
  • If your refrigerator or freezers temperatures often go beyond the safe limits, your refrigerators door seal or gasket might have a crack or leak in it. Check the seal around the door. The story says to, “Close the door and then tug on it gently. There should be some resistance as you open it.”
  • “If the refrigerator door seals dry out and crack, that allows condensation to build, which is a perfect breeding ground for mold.”
  • Store milk and eggs inside the refrigerator rather than in the door compartment of the refrigerator. Studies have found that the door compartment of the refrigerator is warmer than the rest of the fridge.
  • Clean out your fridge on a regular basis. Toss expired food and old leftovers. Clean and dry your refrigerator, paying special attention to produce bins where bacteria are likely to grow.
  • Make sure your refrigerator is running and cooling properly. If you refrigerator feels warm or your freezer is packed with ice, it may be signs that something is wrong and it should be fixed right away. There are some things you can do and fix yourself so that your refrigerator is cooling correctly.

As for preparing food to be eaten, here are a few tips from The National Digestive Diseases Information Clearinghouse that appeared in an article from U.S. News and World Report, “Health Tip: Prepare Food Carefully”

  • “Don’t leave any food out for more than two hours. Either refrigerate or freeze leftovers, or throw them away after two hours.”
  • “Don’t allow food to thaw at room temperature. Ideally, let it thaw over time in the refrigerator. For a quick defrost, run the food under cool water or put it in the microwave.”

There are other great tips in this short article, read it and make sure you are following them all.

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