A recent Canstar Blue survey showed that 1 in 4 Australians are neglecting to clean their refrigerator for months at a time. And two in five regularly remove mouldy food from their fridge. That dirty combination is putting people at risk of contracting food poisoning, says Marjorie Harvey, founder and director of Australia Food Hygiene Services.
With an estimated 7 million cases of food poisoning every year in Australia, she believes too many people are ignorant to the associated health risks of having a filthy fridge. So here are some helpful tips on how to keep your fridge clean – and healthy.
Keep it clean
Thoroughly clean your fridge on a weekly basis with hot water and mild disinfectant. Be sure to clean up any spills immediately before they have a chance to dry, and wipe off rims of things like jam jars and sauce bottles before putting them back in the fridge.
Think outside the box
Regularly wipe doors and fridge edges with warm water and mild disinfectant. And pay special attention to the areas around the handles which are likely to harbor sticky fingerprints.
Shut that door
Get your chilled and frozen food home quickly, and don’t overfill your fridge when you get there. Having enough room for air circulation is important for effective cooling. And make sure you keep your fridge door shut as much as you can. Having the door open, even when you are unpacking groceries, allows hot air to enter your fridge and raise its temperature. Temperatures can rise very quickly and warm air is the ideal setting for bugs to flourish.
Keep it cool
Your fridge should be set to between 1 and 4 degrees Celsius. This is not only to keep food fresh, but also to prevent any bacteria already lurking in your fridge from multiplying.
Never the twain shall meet
Keep raw meat separate from cooked meat and other ready-to-eat foods. If a piece of raw meat falls off a plate onto other foods or surfaces, it could be spreading salmonella all over the fridge. So always store raw meat at the bottom of your fridge to avoid blood and other animal juices from dripping onto other foods.
Out with the old, in with the new
Always rotate old foods with new. Make sure that older supplies of food are used first and make a habit of storing new stock at the back of your fridge, bringing older food to the front. This includes things like fruit, vegetables and eggs.