By Denise Derrer of Indiana's Board of Animal Health
Note: This is Part Four of our Four Part Food Safety Series.
According to the Food and Drug Administration, storing food items at temperatures of 40° F and below significantly reduces the risk of foodborne illness. Microorganisms grow faster at warmer temperatures; therefore, studies say keeping a constant temperature of 40° or below helps slow their growth. But proper cooling is just one of four components, which together facilitate proper food safety.
Fight BAC!® gives us the Cool Rules for keeping our food chilled.
- Use a refrigerator thermometer to verify the temperature stays below 40° F.
- Refrigerate or freeze perishable foods and leftovers within two hours of purchase or use.
- Do not defrost food at room temperature. If you need a quick thaw, defrost your food item in the microwave or enclose the food in an airtight container and submerge in cold water.
- Separate large amounts of leftovers into several shallow containers for quicker cooling.
- Do not overfill your refrigerator. The cool air must circulate to keep a safe temperature.
Maintaining the proper temperature for dairy products can help consumers save money. For example, milk should never be stored in the door of a refrigerator where temperatures can fluctuate. Instead, store milk in the back of your refrigerator and it will last a week past the sell-by date listed on the carton.
The winter of the food safety kit will receive a convenient thermal bag. This bag can easily be stored in any vehicle so it can keep your food safe to and from your destinations.
Additional tips about proper refrigeration can be found on the Indiana State Board of Animal Health website, www.boah.in.gov, or the Fight BAC!® webpage www.fightbac.org.