Welcome to Simply Sunday here at the Health and Food Forum’s Blog. The features posted on Simply Sundays are filled with bits of trivia, statistics, and/or little morsels of food for thought. Enjoy today’s read!
Are the contents of your refrigerator making you sick? Take our quiz below to test your savvy at cold food storage.
- The best place to store eggs is in the door of the refrigerator. TRUE or FALSE
- An opened package of lunch meat can last 2 weeks in the refrigerator before it spoils. TRUE or FALSE
- Warm or hot food can be directly placed in the refrigerator without cooling it first. TRUE or FALSE
- If the food doesn’t smell or look spoiled then there are no illness-producing bacteria present and the food is safe to eat. TRUE or FALSE
- Keep the temperature of your refrigerator well below 40 degrees Fahrenheit. TRUE or FALSE
- FALSE: Eggs should be stored on a shelf in the refrigerator’s cabinet. The temperature of the door’s storage compartments fluctuates more than the temperature of the refrigerator’s interior. Therefore, it is safest to store items like eggs and meat on the shelves or, as in the case with meat, specialized compartments specifically designed to maximize storage time (e.g., meat drawer).
- FALSE: Even if the “sell by date” is two weeks away upon opening the package, an opened package of lunch meat can only last about 3-5 days in the refrigerator before it becomes unsafe to eat.
- TRUE: Hot food can be put directly into the refrigerator without compromising safety. However, if you prefer, leftover food can be stored in shallow containers to facilitate the cooling process in the refrigerator.
- FALSE: There are two types of bacteria that can be present in refrigerated food: Pathogenic bacteria, the kind that leads to foodborne illness, typically does not produce a foul smell, taste or appearance of the food. Pathogenic bacteria thrives in temperatures between 40-140 degrees Fahrenheit, known as the “Danger Zone.” Consuming foods that are contaminated with this type of bacteria can make you sick. The second type of bacteria, known as spoilage bacteria, is capable of growing at low temperatures. It is this form of bacteria that causes the displeasing odor, taste, and appearance of spoiled food. In general, eating foods contaminated with this form of bacteria will not make you sick (granted most people wouldn’t choose to eat apparently spoiled foods in the first place).
- FALSE: It is best to maintain the temperature of your refrigerator at 40 degrees Fahrenheit or below, but not too low. When the temperature starts to approach 32 degrees Fahrenheit, ice crystals can begin to form in susceptible foods such as raw eggs, fruits, and vegetables. The formation of ice crystals in these foods decreases their quality. To ensure that you are keeping the temperature of your refrigerator at a constant 40 degrees Fahrenheit, invest in a refrigerator thermometer.
So how did you do on our quiz? Did you learn anything? In the end, it all boils down to one thing “when in doubt, throw it out”! To lower the risk of wasting food due to the presence of spoilage or pathogenic bacteria follow these tips:
- Perishables should be kept refrigerated until served.
- Do not let perishable foods sit out at temperatures greater than 40 degrees Fahrenheit for more than 2 hours. If they have been, do not eat them and throw them away.
- Rotate the foods in your refrigerator when you bring home new purchases. For instance, place the old (but still fresh) items in front of the new ones so that they can be consumed first.
- Raw poultry, fish, and meat should be securely sealed in separate containers so that their juices do not accidently leak onto and contaminate other foods.
*Answers were obtained from the website of the Food Safety and Inspection Service of the United States Department of Agriculture and the “Fight Bac!” website of The Partnership for Food Safety, a non-profit organization.
How do you keep foods fresh in your refrigerator? Share with us, we want to know!