Refresh Your Fridge

refridgerator(BlackDoctor.org) — A clean kitchen isn’t as sanitary as it can be until the refrigerator is clean. Many of us probably are not cleaning that fridge as often as we should be. Regular cleaning and maintenance of your refrigerator will save you money and save you and your family from food-borne illness.

Begin maintaining your refrigerator with these tips:

Keep Your Fridge Running Cold

One of the best ways to prevent food-borne illness, also known as food poisoning, is to keep your refrigerator at the proper temperature. To prevent and slow the growth of bacteria such as salmonella and Escherichia coli your refrigerator should be at or below 40ºF and your freezer at or below 0ºF. Your fridge’s user manual will have detailed instructions on how to adjust the temperature.

The older a refrigerator gets the more important it is to accurately check the temperature regularly. You may need to invest in an appliance thermometer to get an accurate reading of the temperature inside your older refrigerator.

Keep Food Stocked Properly

Don’t stick food in the refrigerator and forget about it. And don’t place food just anywhere in the refrigerator. Follow these tips for your food’s safe-keeping.

• Take out the trash. Get rid of molded, foul-smelling and otherwise spoiled foods right away.

• Don’t overcrowd. Place food so that each item has enough space for air to circulate. Foods placed too closely together may not reach the correct temperature.

• Pay attention to labels and instructions. Food labels often have instructions on refrigerating certain products. Read and follow all instructions on foods as soon as you unpack them.  Refrigerate or freeze foods right away that require it and throw away any food that has been unrefrigerated for too long.

• Limit time at room temperature. Any food requiring refrigeration that has been sitting at room temperature for more than two hours is trash.

• Give meat some space. Poultry, fish and raw meat need to be kept separate from all other foods. Store them in plastic freezer bags or bowls and keep them on the lowest shelf to keep any drips from contaminating other products.

• Give fridge foods a timeline. Make it a habit to check the contents of your fridge and throw out any foods that have been in there past their time. If you can’t remember how long something has been in the fridge, throw it away. The longer you let foods sit in the fridge the more likely they are to grow bacteria. Freeze foods you don’t plan on eating right away. Follow these timeframes to determine when food needs to go:

– Uncooked ground meat, poultry or fish: 1 to 2 days
– Uncooked steak, veal, lamb, or pork: 3 to 5 days
– Leftovers: 3 to 4 days
– Ready-made foods, like deli meats and macaroni salad: 3 to 5 days
– Eggs in shell: 4 to 5 weeks
– Open jar of mayonnaise: 2 months

The Best Way to Clean Your Refrigerator

Wipe up spills or leaks as soon as they occur. Any liquids that drip from foods can spread bacteria to other food in your fridge.  Also, do a full on clean of your refrigerator once a month. Take every item out and wipe down each shelf, drawer and wall with a mixture of warm water and a little bleach or a disinfectant cleaner. As you replace items back in your refrigerator wipe down any bottles such as ketchup and mustard that have food on the outside. You’ll also need to get behind your refrigerator to vacuum or sweep the dust off the metal coils. This will help keep your refrigerator running efficiently.

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