Time to brush up on your food safety know how!
Here is step 4 of the food safety basics: Keep Things Chill
Just as it is important to keep hot foods hot, it is equally important to keep cold foods cold. Avoid the temperature danger zone between temperatures of 4 C to 60 C (40 F to 140 F) because it is where bacteria and food poisoning grows. Remember you can’t tell just by looking or smelling whether food has gone bad or if it is full of harmful bacteria.
Here are things to remember for keeping foods chilled:
- Keep perishable food safe in the refrigerator or freezer. Your refrigerator should be set at 4 C (40 F) or lower and your freezer at -18 C (0 F) or lower. Use an appliance thermometer to check the temperature.
- To ensure proper cold air circulation, don’t overcrowd your refrigerator.
- Refrigerate food labeled “keep refrigerated.”
- Keep your raw meat, poultry, fish and seafood cold. Refrigerate or freeze them as soon as possible or within two hours.
- Raw meat, poultry and seafood must be cooked within two to three days after purchase. Freeze meats that won’t be cooked right away.
- Marinate foods in the refrigerator. Marinades may be acidic but not enough to prevent the growth of bacteria if left out at room temperature.
- Consult the best before date on food such as dairy products, eggs and prepared meat before buying or consuming.
- Use the storage chart to determine safe refrigerator and freezer storage times for other perishable foods. For example, deli meats should be kept in the refrigerator and consumed within two to three days of opening.
- Once cooked or served, leftovers should be stored in the refrigerator within two hours, preferably sooner. In warmer weather, refrigerate within one hour. Use refrigerated leftovers within four days or preferably sooner.
- Remove the bones from cooked whole poultry and other cooked birds before refrigerating.
- If you are not sure how long something has been in the refrigerator or how long it was left out on the counter after a meal, follow this simple rule: when in doubt throw it out.
- The safest way to thaw food, especially raw meat, poultry, fish or seafood, is in the refrigerator. Always defrost food in the refrigerator, in cold water or in the microwave-never at room temperature. Food defrosted in the microwave should be cooked as soon as possible after thawing.
- Do not re-freeze thawed food. Wash your hands and clean and sanitize the sink, utensils, surfaces and dishes used when thawing the food.
- If you are transporting perishable food to a potluck supper or picnic, keep cold food below 4 C (40 F) using an insulated container packed with ice or frozen freezer packs. Keep the insulated containers out of the sun. Pack raw meats at the bottom in extra plastic or spill-proof containers to avoid raw meat juices dripping.
- If you are sending perishable food such as leftovers, cheese, deli meats and yogurt in a lunch, use an insulated lunch bag and a freezer pack.