Content provided by www.HealthBytesNYC.com
Do you know what’s in your refrigerator? Not everyone does. The outdated sauces, expired dairy products, rotting fruits and veggies, and the bacteria: It’s all there at one time or another for most people. Now that the clocks have “sprung” ahead, this is a great time to spring-clean your refrigerator and learn about healthful food storage habits — which will help you keep on track for healthful living.
Keeping Your Fridge Spick-and-Span
Few people actually take the time to really clean their refrigerator, meaning with soap, bleach and hot water. Because germs are introduced to this appliance daily, it is important to routinely clean it just like you would the rest of your home. Clean up spills as soon as they occur, and take the time to wipe down drawers and door trays.
The Right Temperature
Many people don’t understand the dangers of improper food storage. You can reduce the potential for food-borne illness by keeping your refrigerator running at 40 degrees Fahrenheit or lower, and your freezer at zero degrees or lower. It is easy for temperatures to fluctuate when doors are continually opened, so it’s a good idea to check the temperature now and then to make sure the thermostat is set properly.
Where’s the Beef?
The location of your food in the fridge is key to food safety.
• Keep your meats and dairy on the lower shelves. You don’t want raw meat juices to drip onto your produce or cooked foods.
• Keep fruit and veggies either in produce drawers or on higher shelves, along with cooked foods. Local farm-grown veggies are great, but the dirt they bring in is not, so make sure to brush off dirt before refrigerating.
Product “Due” Dates
Consider the “sell by” and “use by” dates on product labels. Condiments and sauces, especially, can sit in the fridge for months before being completely consumed. Check the dates, and throw the product out if it has changed flavor, odor or appearance.
• A “sell-by” date tells the store how long to display the product for sale, meaning the product should be purchased before that date.
• A “use-by” date is recommended by the manufacturer to use the product before that date for best quality.
What to Stock
When it comes to produce, fresh is not always best if you can’t consume it fast enough. Consider keeping only the fresh fruits and vegetables you will eat within a week. Frozen vegetables are good to have on hand to add to casseroles, pizza and stir-fries. Buy low-fat dairy products such as milk, cheese and yogurt, as well as lean meats. If you do not expect to eat the meat within 2 to 4 days, consider freezing it for later use. Avoid buying large portions of easily spoiled ingredients like sour cream, cheese and fish.
Avoid food waste and food-borne illness (and save money, too!) by making a grocery list before you go to the store. Without excess and uneaten foods in the refrigerator, cleaning up and cleaning out is easier.
Here’s to healthful food storage — and healthful living!
Information provided by Elizabeth North, RD, CDN, Registered Dietician at Roosevelt Hospital.