Your fridge can be responsible for food poisoning and other food-borne illness if you don’t know how to store food in the fridge safely. Many of us do it wrong and harm themselves. Please spend some time reading this article to know how to store food in the fridge so that you may never get sick from the food of your fridge.
Food Storage Guideline for Fridge
We keep all types of perishable food in the fridge. The fridge is divided into two sections in general. The refrigerator section and the freezer section.
The refrigerator section is for storing ready-to-eat, cooked foods, leftovers, dairy and baked products, canned products, drinks, fruits, and vegetables.
On the other hand, the freezer section is used to store raw fish, poultry and meat, frozen items, ice cream, etc.
It is very important to store the right food at the proper place in the fridge.
Follow Right Organization Pattern to Store Food in Fridge
Now that we have identified which food to store in what section of the fridge, let us know about the proper organization pattern to store food in the fridge safely.
The refrigerator section is the biggest portion of the fridge. It is divided into several shelves. To maintain food safety and freshness of stored foods, you need to organize foods on the shelves in the proper pattern.
The top shelves are best to store dairy products. All types of dairy products like cake, cream, cheese, yogurt, butter, milk should be put on the top of any other type.
After that comes the cooked food and leftovers. The top and middle shelves should be used to store these foods. Always bring the temperature to normal for cooked items before storing them in the fridge. Do not ever put hot items in the fridge. It damages the storage ecosystem of the fridge.
Then comes the ready to eat, ready to cook, and canned foods. The middle shelves of your refrigerator are the best place to store them in the fridge. This place also makes it easier to access them whenever needed.
Raw fruits and vegetables come last. These items should be kept at the lower portion of your fridge. But remember to separately store fruits and vegetables.
Most of the refrigerators come with a vegetable drawer. This makes the storage of your fresh vegetables easy. Some drawers come with moisture lock features. Those vegetable drawers keep the moisture of fresh vegetables intact. As a result, vegetables remain fresh for longer.
The door of the refrigerator has some shelves and holders for bottles and small items. The egg case should be used to store eggs in the fridge. The bottle holders are a suitable place for keeping drinks, water, or juice bottles in your fridge. Use door-mounted shelves to store chocolate bars if you want.
Sometimes, it is required to keep some kind of medicines like a suppository, various injections, and insulin in the fridge as those are required to store at low temperatures. You may use a separate box to store them. The door shelves are a suitable place to store them in the fridge.
Distribute in All Shelves
The fridge performs its best to keep food fresh and cool if it is mostly full. Distribute items evenly in all shelves when storing food in the fridge
Do not overcrowd some sections of the fridge while keeping other shelves blank. Keep a little gap between items on each shelf.
That way, the cool air circulates inside the fridge without any obstacle. This cool air keeps foods cold in the fridge. So items remain fresh in the fridge for longer.
Keeping items separate and maintaining a gap between them while storing also prevents the transfer of flavor and odor from one item to another. If by any chance, there is a contaminated item, maintaining a gap between will also help to prevent the contamination of bacteria from one item to the nearby one.
How to Store Cooked Food in the Fridge
We store cooked foods in the fridge, especially sweetmeats. Whenever there is an excess amount left after all have finished their meal, we put that in the fridge to eat later.
Cooked foods and leftovers are the most common source of food contamination in the refrigerator if not maintained well.
Always bring the temperature of cooked foods and leftovers to the normal range before storing it in the fridge. Putting hot items in the refrigerator is very bad for its ecosystem and also performance.
The top and middle shelves are the best places to refrigerate cooked items.
Use sealed containers for storing cooked foods and leftovers inside the fridge. It is also recommended for raw items.
Sealed containers prevent contamination. Harmful bacteria can not transfer to the cooked items from raw foods if stored in a container. It also helps you keep the refrigerator free from bad odor.
Spills and drips on the shelves of the fridge from cooked items or leftovers can also be prevented by storing them in airtight boxes.
Store Perishable Food in the Fridge ASAP
Foods that are to be stored inside the fridge should be put into it as soon as possible.
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) suggests the two-hour rule for the perishable items which says do not leave items outside the fridge for more than two hours that need to be frozen or refrigerated.
Even, it is recommended to refrigerate food items within one hour if the air temperature is above 90 degrees Ferenhite(32 degree celsius). This is also applicable for leftovers that you are planning to keep in the fridge.
If you have come home from shopping with perishable items, try to put it inside the fridge before doing anything else. Foods kept outside for a long time start to get rotten. Bacteria start to grow inside the item that may cause a severe health hazard.
In no circumstances, do not keep any rotten food with other fresh foods inside the refrigerator. That way, fresh foods and the inside environment of the refrigerator get contaminated by bacteria and fungi of the rotten food.
How to Store Food in Freezer
Frozen items, raw fish, meat, and poultries should be stored separately in the freezer. Different shelves can be used for each one of these items.
Items should be packed in bags or wrapped in aluminum foil before putting into the freezer. This way smells from one item will not mix with another one.
Processed frozen foods should be placed on the top portion of the freezer. Otherwise, the juice from raw items may drip into the frozen food and contaminate it.
Ice cream boxes must be sealed properly before putting them into the freezer. Use the topmost shelf to freeze them.
Store at Correct Temperature
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) recommends keeping the refrigerator temperature at or below 40° F (4° C). The freezer temperature should be 0° F (-18° C).
These recommended temperatures help to prevent rapid bacterial growth in food items keeping food fresh for a long. Bacteria and viruses are the most common cause of food poisoning.
Bacteria take nutrition and reproduce by dividing itself into two. Bacterial growth is very much influenced by temperature. In proper temperature, the growth becomes exponential even in a short period. The same goes for fungus.
By eating contaminated food, people get sick. There are over 250 different pathogens that can cause foodborne illness.
If the food is not stored in the fridge at the correct temperature, it will not be fresh anymore, even inside the fridge, and could lead to food poisoning. So maintaining the correct temperature to keep food fresh inside the fridge is a serious matter that should not be overlooked.
Check Cleanliness Before Storing Food in Fridge
Keeping the fridge clean is a prime factor to maintain the hygiene of stored food in the fridge. Foods can not remain fresh and edible in a dirty fridge. The bad odor of the dirty fridge also washes away all the flavor of stored food.
A clean fridge prevents the growth of bacteria and fungus. It also prevents the build-up of any bad smell inside the refrigerator. It is very important to keep the refrigerator clean.
Regular use of the fridge makes it dirty as time passes. Drips and spills from stored food on the shelves are mainly responsible to take away the cleanness of the fridge. The smell from different stored foods mixes up with the cool air inside the fridge and builds up a bad odor inside the fridge.
There is no hard and fast rule about the frequency of cleaning your refrigerator. It generally depends on the condition of your refrigerator. But I would recommend you to deep clean your refrigerator once every 2 to 3 months.
If your appliance is a frost fridge, it would be better if you deep clean your refrigerator during defrosting. You can read this article to know about how to defrost your refrigerator and freezer easily and quickly.
Check Foods After Long Power Cuts
If you face a long power outage, then try to keep the door of your fridge closed as much as possible. A sealed freezer can maintain a good temperature for food up to 48 hrs without electricity if the door remains sealed properly.
Nowadays most refrigerator models come with good sealing and can maintain a suitable temperature for food items for 10 to 12 hrs during long power cuts.
Do not open the refrigerator door frequently during power cuts.
When the power is restored, check individual items carefully if it is ok or not. Remove items immediately if you suspect any quality degradation.
We use a fridge to store perishable foods. Foods like dairy items, eggs, vegetables, meats, and others that we keep in the fridge start to degrade at normal temperatures soon. That is why we fridge perishable foods to maintain freshness and edibility for long.
There are certain requirements to keep these foods fresh. If overlooked, intaking stored foods even from the fridge or freezer could lead to potential health hazards. So, we should store foods properly in the fridge to maintain food hygiene and to keep preserved foods fresh for a longer period