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Food Safety: Proper Food Storage

After a large meal, you are more than likely to get all of the leftover food packed up and placed in the refrigerator. However, while you are doing this, are you keeping in mind food safety? If you don't package your food correctly, you can put yourself at risk for serious illness or even death. This article describes the best way to store food in order to protect yourself against food-borne illness.

Packing Food

Before placing your food in the refrigerator, it is important that you place it into storage containers that protect the food from contamination from other products. Ideally, these storage containers should be airtight. When placing food into a storage container, allow it to reach room temperature before refrigerating. Placing food into a storage container while it is still warm will result in the formation of condensation, which can further lead to the development of mold and other bacterial growth.

Food Placement in the Refrigerator

This is probably the most important and best way to keep food safe. Food placement refers to how it is stored in the refrigerator. For best results, foods that are the least likely to either drip or cause illness if they do drip should be kept on the top shelf of the refrigerator. Thus, foods such as breads, juices, and fruits or vegetables should be stored on the top shelf of the refrigerator. The next shelf should contain foods that are more likely to drip, and can cause more serious complications if the juices of the food do drip on other products. For example, these items are often ground beef, chicken or similar products. Finally, meat or fish steaks, which are most likely to drip, and also are highly likely to cause contamination if they do drip onto other foods, should be stored on the bottom shelf of the refrigerator. This way, if these foods do drip, there is nothing underneath them that they can infect.

Maintaining the Correct Temperature

Finally, once your food has actually been packaged and placed in the refrigerator, it is very important that the food is kept at the right temperature in order to prevent bacteria growth, which can lead to the development of a variety of serious conditions. For best results, keep a thermometer in your refrigerator, and make sure that is works. Ideally, your refrigerator should be kept at a temperature of around 40 degrees Fahrenheit.

If you are unsure about the ability of your refrigerator to properly cool food, you may want to consider having a professional examine it. Eating food from a refrigerator that is not properly cooling your food can cause serious illness (or even death in extremely rare cases). In addition, your freezer temperature should be kept below zero degrees Fahrenheit in order to completely protect all food items. Having a lot of frost in your freezer may impact the freezer's ability to properly cool food.

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