Is This Food Safe to Eat??

Summer is coming — and with it heat and possibly storms and power outages — so it’s a good time to think about food safety.  Below are some recommendations for keeping food safe in your refrigerator and freezer.

Refrigerator Dos:

  • Make sure your refrigerator is set to 40 °F or below
  • Go through your fridge once a week and throw out perishable foods
  • For raw meats like poultry, ground meats, and seafood refrigerate only 1-2 days
  • For raw steaks, roasts, and chops (pork, veal, lamb and beef) refrigerate only 3 to 5 days
  • For cooked meats, like seafood and poultry, refrigerate only 3-4 days
  • Store milk and egg cartons on the shelf inside the fridge, and not in the door where temperatures can vary

Refrigerator Don’ts:

  • Do not store perishable food in the refrigerator door because the temperature may vary too much
  • Do not eat foods that have been at temperatures above 40 °F for more than 2 hours (such as after a power outage)

Freezer Dos:

  • Make sure your freezer remains at 0 °F
  • Freeze foods as soon as possible to maintain quality
  • Thaw foods only in the refrigerator, in the microwave, or in cold water
  • Re-freeze uncooked food thawed in the refrigerator
  • Cook food immediately that has been thawed in the microwave
  • For raw ground meats and seafood freeze only 3-4 months
  • For fresh poultry like a whole chicken or turkey freeze up to 1 year and for pieces freeze up to 9 months
  • Use your refrigerator’s freezer section for short-term storage
  • If possible, use a free-standing freezer for longer storage times
  • Freeze meat and poultry in its original packaging but — for longer storage times — place additional wrapping over the package
  • After a power outage keep the refrigerator door closed to allow food to stay cold (up to 2 days for a full freezer and 1 day for a half-full freezer)

Freezer Don’ts:

  • Do not freeze canned food or eggs in shells
  • Avoid freezing mayonnaise, cream sauce, or lettuce
  • Do not thaw foods on the kitchen counter or outdoors
  • Do not eat foods in the freezer after a power outage or if the door is left open there are no ice crystals left

For a printable refrigerator and freezer food safety chart from Foodsafety.gov click here.

–Janell Mayo Duncan

COPYRIGHT©2015 by Living Well Black, Inc.

Sources:

Refrigeration and Food Safety,” United States Department of Agriculture’s Food Safety and Inspection Service (viewed 5/12/2015)

Van, Diane, “Meat in the Refrigerator: How Long Does it Last,” United States Department of Agriculture’s Food Safety and Inspection Service (viewed 5/12/2015)

Storage Times for the Refrigerator and Freezer,” United States Department of Agriculture’s Food Safety and Inspection Service (viewed 5/12/2015)

mackerel fish on a white background

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