How to Keep the Food Safe in a Fridge to Avoid Food Poisoning

Food poisoning is most often caused by meat, seafood or eggs. For a start, how cold is your fridge? Ideally the fridge should stay between zero and five degrees C. Do not turn the fridge temperature down making it too cold, till a can of soft drink turned to ice and explodes.

It's not a question of the colder the better, if the temperature's too cold food will partially freeze. Apart from spoiling the texture, this means it may not thaw out properly when it's cooked. This will prevent the food cooking properly and may allow food-poisoning bacteria to survive. On the other hand, bacteria thrive in a fridge that's not cold enough. One of the commonest ways of warm up a fridge is by leaving the door open. So get people to take out what they want and shut the door as quickly as possible.

Refrigeration does not killed bacteria, and really hardy ones like listeria can even go on breeding fridges. Most foods have a short fridge life: a couple of days for milk, cream or cooked food; only twelve hours for fish. As long as hard cheese looks all right it probably is. But do not keep soft cheese for more than a few days, and throw it out at once if it looks discolored or starts leaking liquid.

Meat has to be kept especially carefully. Uncooked meat needs to be kept a safe distance away from other food, especially if that food is ready to eat. Bacteria from raw meat can easily contaminate the other food, and if it then wont 'be destroyed by cooking it's a serious food-poisoning risk. All cooked food should be stored at the top of the fridge, with raw meat and seafood separated from everything else at the bottom, where they can not drip on to anything. Any food that was cut from a bulk pack in the shop, such as pate or salami, should be used within forty-eight hours.

Poultry should not be disappointed more than twenty-four hours in the fridge. If you're not going to cook it within this time, buy a frozen bird and put it in the freezer, leaving plenty of time to defrost it when it's needed. It's not really safe to freeze chicken or other poultry yourself, since these are the likeliest things to carry food-poisoning bugs and if you do not get the temperature quite right they could survive.

Should eggs go in the fridge or not? Food-safety experts used to say no. They advise leaving eggs in a cool place, since they have not been refrigerated before. Dampness in a fridge could dissolve the shell's protective coating and they risk getting too cold to cook through properly. Now the government recommends putting eggs in the least cold part of the fridge, for example the door, since temperatures outside tend to fluctuate. Either way, do not wash or wipe them.

Most fresh fruit and vegetable should be kept in the fridge. If anything arrived home tried, cut out the damaged part and use what's left the same day. The rest of your purchase should be stored without being washed or cut up: once it's peeled or cut it start rapidly losing vitamins and soon goes off. If you bought vegetables in plastic packs, open them up to stop them sweating.

When you put cooked leftovers in the fridge, let them cool down first to avoid raising its temperature. That reduces the fridge's effectiveness and encourages the growth of mold – which could get on to food and be harmful- as well as wasting money. Stand food in a bowl of ice water to cool down quickly. Ninety minutes is the longest time anything that needs to be refrigerated should stay outside the fridge.

Do not keep leftovers of custard, gravy or anything else that has been made up from a powder containing meat, eggs, rice or daily products. These ingredients are those most likely to harbor food-poisoning bacteria, which start multiplying fast when you add water and warmth. They will usually have been cooked before being dried, so you are already 'reheating' them when you make them up from powder to soup, or granules to gravy.

Food should not stay in a tin once it's been opened, since it can become contaminated by the metal. You can buy specially made containers with lids for the fridge, or simply transfer may unused contents to a china mug or bowl and cover it with a saucer. If you use cling film, it's best not to let it touch the food. Cling film should never be put on fatty food such as cheese, or on food that is still hot. There's the possibility that some of the chemicals in cling film may be harmful, but it's thought to be fine as long as it's stretched across the container above cold food. Greaseproof paper is also safe.

When you take meat out of the freezer, it is especially careful to defrost it properly before cooking – preferably in a drip-proof container at the bottom of the fridge, rather than in a warm room where bacteria could start reproducing. Do not refreeze food that's thawed but has not been cooked.

Ideally, all foods except fresh root vegetables and bananas should be kept either in the fridge or in airtight containers. You can buy plastic storage containers. Airtight containers only keep the air from spoiling food, but reduce the risk of spillages and insect infestation.

Important Points:

o Most food apart from bananas and some root vegetables should go either in the fridge or in the airtight containers.

o Do not wrap fatty food in the cling film.

o Defrost the fridge regularly and keep in clean. Check it's between zero and five degrees C.

o Keep raw meat or seafood covered in a container, and do not let it come into contact with any other food.

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