Guest Article by Jacqueline Watson
Americans throw away half of all their food 1Manning-Schaffel, Vivian. “Eat It or Toss It: A Guide to Leftovers.” NBCNews.com, NBCUniversal News Group, www.nbcnews.com/better/pop-culture/guide-leftovers-how-store-them-safely-when-toss-them-ncna868316,, amounting to $160 billion every year. 77% say they feel guilty about their food waste, but they don’t seem to know how to reduce it. Simply storing food correctly can help to reduce food waste and there’s just a few dos and don’ts you need to know to get the best shelf life from your food. 90% of food is thrown away too soon and a lot of this is down to not understanding the labels on packaging.
Meat should be stored on the bottom shelf in a fridge as juice can come out of it and drip onto other foods, potentially contaminating it and causing illness. To further avoid contamination store meat in a sealed container so that there’s no risk of it coming into contact with anything else. Ready to eat food, such as yogurts, butter, ready meals and prepackaged food, should go on the top and second shelf. This keeps them away from raw foods and reduces the risk of cross-contamination. The crisper drawers of a fridge should contain fruits, vegetables and salad as they help to control airflow and therefore increase the lifespan of fresh produce. The fridge’s door is the warmest part and subject to the most variable temperature changes, so it’s important not to keep highly perishable foods in it, such as dairy and eggs.
Despite widespread recommendations to let hot foods cool completely before storing them in the fridge, hot foods should be placed into the refrigerator as soon as possible to limit the time spent in the danger zone. The quicker you put the food in the fridge, the better. Leftovers should be consumed within two days. The only exception to this is rice, which should be eaten within one day or less because it contains spores that can grow into bacteria and cause food poisoning. Put leftovers into an airtight container or cover it with cling film or a plastic bag to keep it fresh. If you have leftovers from a can, put the contents into a plastic container. Food shouldn’t be stored in metal once it’s open as the tin and iron can leak into food, especially when the food is acidic, which has a bad effect on health.
Don’t Overfill The Fridge
If you find that every week when you’re unpacking your groceries that your fridge and freezer are overflowing, it could be more damaging than you realize. Overfilling a fridge or freezer reduces the airflow, which can lead to the temperature of the fridge warming up and entering the danger zone. This means bacteria can quickly multiply on food and cause it to spoil, giving it the potential to cause food poisoning. If your fridge is regularly overfilled you need a bigger fridge/freezer so that your food can be stored safely and this will increase its shelf life. You should also ensure that air vents aren’t blocked by food to increase air flow.
It can be difficult to know which setting to use in your fridge as they usually have a setting number 1-5, instead of a temperature. If your fridge is too warm there’s a risk of bacteria growth on food, so it’s important to know the temperature. The best way to do this is to keep a thermometer in your fridge so that you can easily check the temperature, especially for when the weather changes which can affect the temperature of your fridge and the setting it needs to be on. Ideally, your fridge should be set at 40℉ or 4℃. Most modern fridges can deal with outdoor temperature changes, especially if the settings are altered accordingly, so if you have an older fridge it may be more efficient to get a newer one.
Cross contamination is a serious issue when it comes to food as it can lead to food poisoning. Therefore, it’s important to store food on the right shelves in your fridge. Correctly storing food in your fridge will also reduce food waste which is a massive problem, especially in America. Checking the temperature will help to save you money as food will last longer.
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|1.||↲||Manning-Schaffel, Vivian. “Eat It or Toss It: A Guide to Leftovers.” NBCNews.com, NBCUniversal News Group, www.nbcnews.com/better/pop-culture/guide-leftovers-how-store-them-safely-when-toss-them-ncna868316,|