Spring cleaning? How about the refrigerator and pantry? Here are some tips for food storage and safety. Feel free to post them on the fridge for easy referencing.
Remember to check the refrigerator and freezer and clean the shelving and drawers where bacteria can hide. Bacteria that cause foodborne illness aren't always visible so be sure all surfaces including small crevices are cleaned well.
Check that the refrigerator temperature is set to below 40°F.
Keep the refrigerator clean at all times; this is a good time to look for unnoticed spills and remove lingering odors. Wipe up spills and clean surfaces with hot, soapy water and rinse well. Be sure to clean under drawers and edges of glass shelves.
To keep the refrigerator smelling fresh and help eliminate odors, place an opened box of baking soda on a shelf. Avoid using solvent cleaning agents, abrasives and any cleansers that may impart a chemical taste to food or ice cubes, or cause damage to the interior finish of your refrigerator. Follow the manufacturer's instructions.
Make sure foods haven’t spoiled whether in the pantry or in the refrigerator.
The sniff test is safer than tasting something to decide if it’s past its prime, but it’s not foolproof. Not all germs make food smell or taste bad. It’s best to label and date food in your fridge and freezer so you know how long you’ve had it. If there’s any question, toss it: “When in doubt, throw it out.”
This is a good time of year to use or throw away foods that are losing their quality or have spoiled for both refrigerated and non-refrigerated items in the pantry. For a detailed listing of the shelf-life of foods, as well as a kitchen safety quiz, download the free "Is My Food Safe?” app.
Make spring the time to begin new food safety habits. To minimize food waste, check the refrigerator regularly to be sure foods are consumed before they spoil. Once a week, make it a habit to throw out or compost perishable foods that should no longer be eaten.
Organizing the Refrigerator and Pantry
Smart food storage takes into account the fact that climate conditions vary throughout a refrigerator. Door bins and upper shelves tend to be warmer than bottom shelves and deli compartments. Crisper drawers, meanwhile, can often be adjusted to create more or less humidity, depending on what’s going inside.
Here's a step-by-step guide to organizing your refrigerator and pantry. Even if your layout differs, the same basic storage principles should deliver optimal results.
Use this chart as a guide for how long to safely store food in the refrigerator and freezer. The best way to remember how long a food has been in cold storage is by labeling and dating it, especially leftovers.
Use these tips to keep you and your family safe from foodborne illness! Have a happy and healthy spring.