Refrigerator Safety Tips

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Refrigerators have been keeping food cold and edible for generations. However, if you do not know how to properly store your food, you are putting yourself at risk. Placing items in your refrigerator randomly will prevent them from staying fresh, costing you money and food in the long run. Always make sure your refrigerator is as clean as possible to prevent food contamination.

Keeping It Cool

  • Because refrigerators utilize circulating air to keep food fresh and edible, you should keep your refrigerator as cool as possible. One way to accomplish this goal is to limit the number of food items in the refrigerator. The more items you have inside, the less air will be able to circulate. If possible, do not place your refrigerator in direct sunlight. Never place your refrigerator next to heat producing appliances. The cooler the environment, the more efficient your refrigerator will be. Do not leave the refrigerator door open longer than necessary. For example, if you are pouring yourself a glass of juice, shut the refrigerator door while doing so. Make sure the door seals completely when closed to prevent cool air from escaping.

The Temperature

  • The temperature within your refrigerator should never exceed 40 degrees Fahrenheit. Place an appliance thermostat inside the refrigerator to monitor the refrigerator's temperature. An appliance thermostat will be of great help in the event of a power outage. Once the power comes back on, check the thermostat to make sure the refrigerator returns to 40 degrees Fahrenheit. Food left inside the refrigerator for more than two hours at a temperature higher than 40 degrees Fahrenheit is not safe to consume due to bacterial contamination.

Cleaning

  • Cleaning out your refrigerator on a regular basis will help keep the food inside fresh. When cleaning your refrigerator, make sure to use a clean sponge and warm water. Clean every shelf and drawer. Dry the surfaces in the refrigerator with a paper towel or cloth, and never use chemically driven cleaners inside. Chemically driven cleaners can have a negative effect on the taste of the food you're storing. Use a box of baking soda to eliminate lingering odors in the refrigerator, and replace this box every three months. Clean the front grill of the refrigerator to allow airflow to the condenser. Use a brush or vacuum to clean the condenser coils. Always unplug the refrigerator before cleaning the coils.

Placement

  • If you purchase meats, poultry or fish, store them on the bottom shelf of the refrigerator to make sure they stay as fresh as possible. The bottom shelf of the refrigerator is the coldest part. You should only store certain items in the door of the refrigerator. These items include sodas, butter and condiments. Never place any perishable items in the refrigerator door, as this area is typically 7 degrees warmer than other areas.

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  • Photo Credit eggs and milk image by Jeffrey Zalesny from Fotolia.com
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