Certain foods require chilled storage conditions to maintain quality and prevent the growth of micro-organisms. Correct storage of food at the right temperature reduces the risk of food poisoning. Is your fridge cold enough at the correct temperature?
Temperature control is important because harmful bacteria are a hazard present in many foods. Given the right conditions, food poisoning bugs such as listeria can multiply quickly.
Did you know that at ideal temperatures some food poisoning bugs can multiply every 10 minutes? The Food Standards Agency states that growth models have shown listeria grows nearly twice as fast at 8°C as it does at 5°C, hence the recommended 5ºC, which helps keep us safe from listeria.
As bacteria are invisible to the naked eye and cannot be physically removed from food, all we can do is control their numbers. Temperature can be used to achieve this by destroying harmful bacteria, or reducing their numbers by cooking or reheating. Bacterial growth can also be controlled by keeping food hot or cold.
Food stored in the fridge can be kept safe by keeping to recommended storage temperatures, storing food correctly and cleaning equipment.
These simple steps can help:
- Using a fridge/freezer thermometer, you can check that your refrigerator is operating at 5°C or below. This is particularly important in summer when temperatures can be warmer than you think.
- When storing left-over food, make sure it is cooled as quickly as possible and then eat within two days.
- Store ready-to-eat food above and well separated from raw food.
- Do not over-stock your fridge to allow cold air to circulate.
- When preparing food, keep it out of the fridge for the shortest time possible.
- Putting food in the fridge will keep it at a safe temperature while it is defrosting. Ideally, plan ahead to leave enough time and space to defrost in the fridge.
- Clean the inside and the outside of the fridge regularly.