It is importance to follow some basic food safety rules in our day to day lives. When refrigerating/freezing foods, low temperatures help maintaining the freshness of foods and delaying the development of harmful microorganisms.
The following information must be considered in order to guaranty an adequate preservation of foods:
- Refrigerators/cold storage: They should be adequately sanitized, using appropriate products;
- Volume: Do not exceed 2/3 of the equipment’s capacity. When it is full – and there is no room left between products – cold air won’t circulate properly and temperature distribution will be compromised.
Store your foods at adequate temperatures:
The fridge’s temperature should be between 0ᵒC and 10ᵒC (32ᵒF and 50ᵒF). It is important to remember that temperature is not evenly distributed inside the fridge. To make sure all foods are stored adequately, it is necessary to take advantage of the different temperature areas. Unless specified otherwise by the manufacturer, store your foods in the refrigerator the following way:
- Upper zone (coldest area) – yoghurts, cheese, cream, jam, cooked foods (don’t forget that the latter shouldn’t stay at room temperature for more than 2 hours, should be kept in adequate and closed containers, and not be put in the fridge while still warm);
- Middle zone – meat and fish, ham and other processed meats, opened tin cans, pastries;
- Lower shelves – thawing foods (should be kept in containers to avoid the spillage of thawing liquids that can contain harmful microorganisms to avoid contamination);
- Bottom drawers – Fruits, vegetables and fresh legumes;
- Fridge door – butter and similar, milk, water.
It is important to also notice that:
- Some foods do not need refrigeration and, in some cases, may lose properties if kept in the fridge. Some examples are bread and fruit (fruits and legumes that need to ripen should be kept at room temperature);
- During summer, the fridge should be regulated to lower temperatures than during winter. Make sure the fridge doors are properly closed, only opening the fridge when needed, and closing it as soon as possible;
- Keep in mind the “first in, first out” rule. When storing foods in the fridge, place the newly bought items behind the existing ones. This method will help make sure you eat foods before their expiration date, consequently reducing food waste.
Freezer temperatures should not exceed -18ᵒC (-0.4ᵒF). Unlike the fridge, there are no distinct areas for specific foods as its temperature is evenly distributed. However, the following advice can help you maintain the quality of frozen foods:
- Foods should be labeled and dated and kept in appropriate containers/packages as to avoid “frost bite” and excessive freezing leading to loss of taste, color, texture and nutritional value;
- Do not refreeze foods after thawing them.