Refrigerator and Freezer Storage Guidelines

Cold temperatures maintain the quality of food and slow the growth of pathogens. Following proper guidelines outlined in this video can help ensure food safety.
Refrigerator and Freezer Storage Guidelines - Videos

Instructors

Food Safety Retail Food Safety for Volunteer Groups Home Food Preservation Home and Consumer Food Safety Nutrition

More by Sharon McDonald, MEd, RD, LDN 

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- [Presenter] Perishable foods and ingredients are stored at refrigeration temperatures to limit the growth of harmful foodborne microorganisms as well as minimize the growth of spoilage organisms.

Storage under frozen conditions prevents growth of all microorganisms.

For proper refrigeration maintain temperatures below the temperature danger zone.

For commercial establishments this is below 41 degrees Fahrenheit.

For home refrigerators below 40 degrees Fahrenheit.

There are some important keys to remember when refrigerating foods.

First, monitor the temperature of the refrigerator using a calibrated thermometer placed in the warmest part of the unit.

Monitor temperatures daily.

Do not overfill refrigeration units.

This will prohibit good airflow and lead to warm spots in the unit.

Also do not cover wire shelving.

Again, this will restrict airflow.

Store foods in a way that prevents cross contamination by covering them.

Ready-to-eat foods should be stored above raw foods such as raw meats.

The goal is to prevent drips from the meat getting onto ready-to-eat foods.

Unfortunately, many home-style refrigerators have storage shelving not designed this way.

Therefore, it is important that food kept in product drawers be protected from contamination by dripping meat that may be stored above.

Promptly clean spills and routinely clean and sanitize inside and outside surfaces of the refrigerator.

Monitor raw ingredients for freshness and quality.

Discard items that appear slimy, have an odor, or appear discolored.

Refrigerated items still have a limited shelf life.

Meat and dairy items should be used before the sell by date.

Items prepared in house should not be stored longer than seven days.

More likely not more than four days.

Freezing allows for the preservation of food ingredients for an extended period by prohibiting growth of microorganisms and limiting natural deterioration.

For proper preservation keep temperatures at or below zero degrees Fahrenheit.

Temperatures at or below -20 degrees Fahrenheit maximize shelf life of frozen foods.

Place a freezer thermometer inside the unit to verify that appropriate temperature control is being maintained.

Minimize defrosting of foods that can occur when units are opened too frequently.

Wrap foods properly to prevent moisture loss which can result in freezer burn.

Remember, frozen foods have a limited shelf life and must be used within a reasonable time to prevent noticeable quality loss.

Pack and freeze items quickly to minimize deterioration of foods.

The slower the item freezes the lower the quality it will have.

Some items do not freeze well such as greens, lettuce, and spinach.

Other produce items must be blanched before freezing.

Check recommended guidelines before freezing fresh product items.

It is important to remember that while refrigeration and freezing will limit or prevent the growth of disease-causing microorganisms it will not eliminate most types.

So proper cooking is required for items such as meat, poultry, and seafood before consumption.

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