• What’s Lurking in Your Fridge?

        refrigerator full with some kinds of foodIs there anything dangerous lurking in your fridge, and could it be seriously harming your family’s health?

        It was revealed by the Food Standards Agency in 2012 that there are over a million cases of food poisoning each year, 20,000 hospitalisations and 500 deaths. This is largely due to the way we store our foods, resulting in growth of bacteria, viruses, and parasites which can pose a serious threat particularly to pregnant and breast feeding women, young children, the elderly, and anyone with impaired immunity.

        The good news is that up to 25% of the outbreaks can be prevented with safer practices in the home.

        Modern day refrigerators, however, only really became a household kitchen appliance after the Second World War and this modern technology has undoubtedly changed our cooking and eating habits, but not necessarily always for the better!

        When pre-technology families relied on ice boxes and snow packed pits to keep their food cold, space was a luxury they seldom had and any available was used for vital staples such as meat, milk and butter. Other foods were preserved using methods such as salting, smoking, spicing, pickling and drying. Seasonal eating was embedded in their lives with fruits and vegetables, by necessity, grown and bought locally.

        The arrival of kitchen refrigeration has been a mixed blessing. It introduced the concept of ready meals and pre-prepared foods which many see as a step backwards from healthy eating, but has also allowed us the opportunity to store more luxury foods and to buy and store more exotic and even foreign produce; so arguably whilst home cooking has declined in many homes, and wastage has become an issue, some have been able to embrace more exciting and challenging ingredients.

        Safe storage, however, remains paramount, and the temptation is to overstock the fridge, seriously risking cross-contamination and poor air circulation which prevents the fridge from holding its optimum temperature. This can quickly encourage the multiplication of bacteria which can result in unpleasant and potentially life-threatening food poisoning,

        Check out your fridge and see if you are cleaning, storing and separating your foods correctly!

        Sub Zero Storage Refrigerator ThermometerGENERAL ADVICE

        • Clean your fridge regularly (ideally weekly) with warm water and mild bleach to prevent mould and bacteria spreading
        • Keep your fridge at or below 5 degrees centigrade – you can buy cheap thermometers which allow you to check this.
        • Monitor Use By dates. Sell By dates are less important – these are generally a tool for supermarket stock taking rather than a safety tool guideline.
        • If you have a power cut, fridge contents can remain safe for up to 2 hours, as long as the door remains closed. After that time, check to see whether the food is still cold. When in doubt, throw it away!


        TOP SHELF

        • Dairy, yoghurts, cream and other ready to eat foods


        • Cooked meats, leftovers and packaged foods


        • Raw meat, poultry and fish should be placed covered and in sealed containers


        • Salads, fruits and vegetables then go in the bottom drawers


        • Unopened they are fine, but once opened it is advisable to store these inside the fridge


        • Never store opened cans in your fridge. The metal in cans can contaminate the food within, so remove contents to sealed bag or container

        Boiled eggs brighton hove nutrition wellbeingEGGS

        • Opinion is divided on this one, but when storing eggs in the fridge, it is best to keep them in their egg box and store them on either the top or middle shelf. Most egg racks are on the back of the door, which is an alternative, but is subject to greater temperature variation when the door is opened and closed; and when taking eggs out of the box you can sometimes lose information about use by dates.
        •  If you prefer to store eggs out of the fridge, make sure they are at a temperature of c 20 degrees centigrade or below; and if they have been refrigerated, bring them out and up to room temperature before cooking.

        Used well and safely, fridges are a valuable solution to busy modern lives, enabling us to stock up on fresh fruits and vegetables which are such an important part of our healthy diet; or to batch cook and store healthy home made meals.

        Check yours now!