Food Safety & Storage

Charleston, SC

Stay safe in the kitchen when choosing storage solutions for your leftover food that will keep it fresh and healthy for you and your family. Food storage and safety are your first lines of defense when addressing the possibility of food poisoning. The CDC estimates that there are over 76 million cases of food poisoning each year in the U.S. alone and young children are the most vulnerable.

Food needs to be stored appropriately so it doesn't go bad. Be careful not to exceed the expiration date on the package and pay close attention when shopping so you can decide whether the food is likely to be eaten before going bad. Set the temperature in your refrigerator to around 35 to 40 degrees Fahrenheit. Clean out your refrigerator regularly so that cold air can circulate around the contents. Rotate the older foods in your refrigerator and your pantry toward the front so they are more visible and you eat the older food first. Always keep food covered with plastic wrap or aluminum foil and store food items in separate containers rather than lumping leftovers together in one. It's always a good idea to eat those leftovers as soon as possible so you can eliminate the risk of spoilage. Be sure to check your food regularly for signs that it is getting old and throw out anything that looks suspicious, making room for the food you have that is still good.

There are basic guidelines for food storage that you can find online which detail exactly how long you can safely store various foods before they become a health risk. Some general tips include keeping ground beef, fish and chicken in the refrigerator for only 1-2 days, while steaks, pork and lunch meats can be kept for 3 to 5 days. If you are not sure how long something has been stored or whether it was stored safely, throw it away. Just because something doesn't smell awful, or have visible signs of decomposition, doesn't mean it is free of bacteria that can make you sick.

Wash your produce thoroughly, especially if it's organic! Manure-based fertilizers are considered organic, but they aren't necessarily clean or sterile! Remember to use separate cutting boards for meats than you do for your fruit and veggie preparation. When freezing meats, write the date of purchase on the outside of the freezer bag so you'll always know how long it's been there. When you follow proper food safety and storage procedures you'll be saving yourself from a potential case of food poisoning.

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