Inside My Fridge

As a Public Health Inspector, students sometimes wonder if I practice what I preach! I hope so as it is not that difficult to keep your home refrigerator up to food safety standards. It’s important to watch the code dates. Expired milk should not be used. Follow the code dates on salad dressings and pasta sauces as well. Make sure that shelving is regularly wiped down and the shelves kept clean. Any spills should be wiped up immediately or as soon as you can. Purchase a thermometer and install it in your fridge to check the temperature. It should read 4 C which is the optimum temperature for refrigerators and coolers. Rotating your “stock” is important too. Try and keep the oldest foods at the front of the refrigerator and the other foods placed further back. Placing labels on soups and leftover meals helps to know what you’ve got as well as using see-through containers. When stacking foods, use closed lids otherwise bowls can be stacked one on top of the other and contaminate the open food underneath. Most importantly, keep raw meats and fish on the bottom shelf. The reason for this is that blood can drip and ruin the foods stored underneath. A restaurant manager I knew had a staff member who zealously stocked all the boxes of raw meat on the top shelf of the walk-in cooler because it looked good. Unfortunately, the blood dripped onto the produce and other foods on the shelving below and ruined $2000.00 worth of food! Also, this was in a kitchen at a mining camp in a remote location, so finding alternative meat quickly was not an option. If you do keep your shelving clean and sanitary, rotate your foods, use up leftovers within 3 days of preparation, and watch your code dates, you will be practicing safe food handling techniques and create a safe environment for your refrigerator.

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ENVIRO-FOOD CONSULTING is a foodservice consulting business run by Sally de la Rue Browne, Certified Public Health Inspector and Food Safety Specialist.

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