Refrigerator Cleanliness 101 by University of Connecticut

In *All, Nutrition & Health, Youth, Family, & Communities by Ag is America

Refrigerators might be one of our most important food safety innovations, but colder temperatures also grow and multiply food spoilage microorganisms, leaving these machines prone to pathogens that cause foodborne illness and spoilage.

Unfortunately, it’s hard to see these pathogens coming until they’ve done their damage to your dairy products, produce, and more. That’s why it is important to focus on prevention tactics. Here’s what the University of Connecticut recommends:

  • Manage the temperature: To keep pathogen growth minimal, keep your fridge below 41 degrees F at all times. Anything higher can accelerate the growth of E. coli, Salmonella, and other pathogen growth. Again, this will not guarantee to kill these pathogens, but rather prevent them from growing into a harmful state.
  • Clean your fridge regularly: NSF’s 2013 study of home kitchen environments found that the two “germiest” areas of the kitchen were the meat and vegetable bins in the refrigerator. Label everything with dates, keep an eye out for leakage and spills, and make sure to clean any messes immediately.
  • Keep an eye on your perishable foods: Make sure to look through your dairy products, fresh produce, leftovers, and other perishable foods and throw away anything that is moldy, slimy, or just looks/smells spoiled. Perishable foods are generally best if used by 5-7 days after the “use by” date, and leftovers should only last 3-5 days.

For more tips and information on refrigerator storage and safety, read more here.

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