Food safety starts on the farm, where farmers protect their crops from diseases and pests, and keep their livestock comfortable and healthy. It continues in our homes with proper handling, storage, preparation and cooking.
One of the most important aspects of food safety is proper storage. Just like farmers store soybeans and corn in grain bins at the right moisture levels to preserve them for optimal quality, we should pay attention to keeping food fresh in the refrigerator.
It all starts with the right temperature. Set your refrigerator at or below 40 degrees Fahrenheit and freezer at or below 0 degrees Fahrenheit. According to the FDA, the internal thermostat on your appliance is the best tool to ensure accuracy. In the event of power outage, foods held at temperatures above 40 degrees Fahrenheit for more than two hours should not be consumed.
Here are a few other guidelines to help your food stay safe and cool:
- Refrigerate meat, seafood, eggs, produce and perishable foods as soon as possible. If raw, wrap securely or seal in containers to prevent juices from contaminating other foods.
- Cover foods to retain moisture and prevent them from absorbing odors from other items.
- Don’t store perishable items inside the door. Bin temperatures in the door fluctuate more than others in the main cabinet.
- Keep doors closed as much as possible to preserve optimal temps.
Regularly throwing out expired items and cleaning your refrigerator are also important to ensuring food safety. Here are tips from the USDA’s Food Safety and Inspection Service to help you take action.
Have a holiday or party coming up? Use our guidelines for properly storing and freezing leftovers.
Hungry for Truth is an initiative about food and farming funded by the South Dakota soybean checkoff. The goal is to connect South Dakotans with the farmers who grow and raise their food.