Refrigeration Health Precautions: Foods you should be keeping in the fridge revealed

Refrigeration Health

Refrigeration cannot improve the quality of foodstuffs; it can only retard the natural process of deterioration. For maximum storage of food and minimum health risk, the following precautions MUST be considered when using refrigerators;

Location of refrigerators

As adequate ventilation is vital, locate refrigeration equipment in a well-ventilated room away from;

  • Source of intense heat – cookers, ovens, radiators, boilers, etc.

  • Direct sunlight – from window or skylights.

  • Barriers to adequate air circulation.

Defrosting of refrigerators

It’s important as it helps equipment perform efficiently and prevents a potential damaging build-up of ice. Presence of ice on the evaporator or internal surfaces indicates the need for urgent defrosting; if the equipment is designed to defrost automatically this also indicates a fault.

Automatically defrosting may lead to a temporary rise in air temperature; this is normal and will not put food at risk.

Cleaning of refrigerators

  • Clean thoroughly inside and out at least every two months as blocked drain lines, drip trays and air ducts will eventually lead to a breakdown.

  • Switch off the power.

  • If possible, transfer stock to available alternative storage.

  • Clean interior surfaces with lukewarm water and mild detergent. Do not use abrasives or strongly scented cleaning agents.

  • Clean exterior and dry all surface inside and out.

  • Clear away any external dirt, dust or rubbish that might restrict the circulation of air around the condenser.

  • Switch on power, check when the correct working temperature is reached, refill with stock.

Loading of refrigerator

  • Ensure that there is adequate capacity for maximum stock.

  • Check that perishable goods are delivered in a refrigerated vehicle.

  • Only fill frozen food storage cabinets with pre-frozen food.

  • Never put hot or warm food in a refrigerator unless it is specially designed for rapid chilling.

  • Ensure that no damage is caused to inner linings and insulation by staples or nails in packaging.

  • Air must be allowed to circulate within a refrigerator to maintain the cooling effect – do not obstruct any airways.

Hygiene precautions of the refrigerator.

  • Select the appropriate equipment for the temperature requirement of the food.

  • Always ensure refrigerators maintain the correct temperature of the food stored.

  • Keep unwrapped foods, vulnerable to contamination, and flavor and odor transfer, in separate refrigerators or in airtight containers and away from products such as cream, other dairy products, partly cooked pastry, cooked meat, and delicatessen food.

  • Do not store foods for long periods in a good, general-purpose refrigerator because a single temperature is not suitable for keeping all types of food safety and at peak condition.

  • Never keep uncooked meat, poultry or fish in the same refrigerator, or any other food that is not its own sealed, airtight container.

  • Never refreeze foods that have been thawed out from frozen.

  • Always rotate stock in refrigerator space.

NOTE: Maintenance and servicing of refrigerators should be carried out regularly by qualified personnel.

What foods you should be keeping in the fridge revealed

It was the opinion that split the nation like Marmite – should ketchup be kept in the fridge or in the cupboard?

An Asda store sparked the heated debate by revealing it had moved the condiment to the fridge.

But the chain is now stocking its own brand on shelves and in fridges at its superstore in Clapham, South London.

Clearing things up, microbiologist Dr. Peter Barratt said ketchup is best kept in the fridge as it now has less salt – which acts as a preservative.

But there is still confusion about plenty of other foods, so here’s our “in or out” fridge guide...

Eggs OUT

You shouldn't keep eggs in the fridge

Even though most fridges come with an egg tray, laws in the UK mean all hen eggs must be vaccinated for salmonella, so British eggs don’t need to be kept chilled.

Look for the British Lion mark as it means the eggs have been laid by vaccinated hens.

Bananas OUT

Bananas shouldn't be kept in the fridge

Don't store unripe bananas in the fridge as it disrupts the ripening process – and even if you remove them later, it may not resume.

But keep them away from other fruit as they produce ethylene, causing other fruits to spoil more quickly.

Bread OUT

Bread shouldn't be kept in the fridge

You might think to keep bread in the fridge will make it last longer but it dries it out and will make your loaf go stale faster.

The cold temperature forces starch in it to crystallize quicker than at room temperature. Store bread in a cool, dry place.

Mustard IN

Mustard needs to live in the fridge

There are no ingredients in mustard that spoil but manufacturer French’s says Dijon and horseradish will “lose their flavors if not refrigerated”.

Food safety expert Philippa Hudson, of Bournemouth University, agrees, saying: “This is a flavor issue. You want it to taste good.”

Mint sauce IN

With sauces like apple and mint, it’s best to keep them chilled.

Philippa says: “You’re likely to use these sauces once a month and you’ll get better value by using the fridge to prolong shelf-life.”

Basil OUT

Basil shouldn't be kept in the fridge

Most fresh herbs should be chilled but basil wilts faster in the cold and will absorb smells around it. Keep it in water.

Syrup OUT

If you’re looking forward to a pancake on Shrove Tuesday, you’ll probably be digging your syrup out from the back of the cupboard – because that’s where Philippa says it should be stored.

She says: “I can’t see why it should be kept in the fridge and the flavor could be diminished if chilled.”

Pickled veg OUT

Philippa says when it comes to pickled items, you should keep them in the cupboard but make sure you don’t contaminate them with a dirty utensil.

She says: “Pickled veggies are acidic and the more acidic something is, the fewer micro-organisms can tolerate. These are traditional preserving mechanisms.”

Coffee OUT

Don't keep coffee in the fridge

Coffee in a jar might live on your shelf, but what about fresh stuff? Philippa says: “There’s no need to keep ground coffee in the fridge, it’s a dry, powdered ingredient.”

And while some packets advise chilling, she adds: “I imagine that’s from a flavor point of view.”

Store it in an airtight container in the cupboard and if you have a lot, use a freezer.

Tomatoes OUT

Tomatoes shouldn't be kept in the fridge

You might be tempted to pop them in the fridge salad drawer but tomatoes lose more of taste the colder they get, which also stops the ripening process.

Cakes OUT

Unless your most recent Bake Off showstopper creation contains real cream or icing that will go bad if not kept cold, you don’t need to keep cakes in the fridge.

The team at Good Housekeeping Institute say it’s fine to store them in an airtight container at room temperature.

Soft fruits IN

Strawberry, Raspberry, and Blueberry

If you don’t plan to eat your blueberries, strawberries, and raspberries immediately, Philippa says to put them in the fridge.

She says: “These fruits are fragile and have a short shelf-life but be sure to take them out an hour before eating for the best taste.”

Red wine IN

If it's open, put it in the fridge

Put unfinished bottles in the fridge instead of on the kitchen counter.

Wine expert and editor of The Oxford Companion to Wine Jancis Robinson says: “Low temperatures slow chemical reactions like oxidation – the enemy of an open bottle.”

Lemons IN

Lemons should be kept in the fruit bowl, according to Philippa.

She says: “They’re a waxy fruit and have a thick skin like oranges, which extends shelf life. Most people have limited fridge space so save it for something that needs to be kept chilled.”

Butter OUT

It's almost impossible to spread butter straight out of the fridge and food safety expert Dr. Lisa Ackerley says you can keep smaller quantities in a butter dish at room temperature – but for no longer than a few days as she says “it will go rancid if you keep it for long periods”.

Jam Depends

Depends on how long it's been open for

Jam is naturally acidic thanks to its fruit content, which helps to prevent the growth of bacteria, and if you eat it within three or four months you can keep it in the cupboard as long it doesn’t become contaminated.

Philippa says: “But if you have a lot of jams you’ll keep them for longer so they will last longer in the fridge. Keep the low sugar varieties in the fridge for longer shelf life.”

Pickle OUT

Branston recommends keeping pickle chilled but there’s really no need. Philippa says: “Pickles and chutneys are used to preserve ­vegetables.

Branston uses sugar as a preservative and a certain amount of vinegar and the combination stops micro-organisms from growing, causing food to spoil. But it still has a shelf life.”

Salad dressing IN

If you’ve got creamy salad dressings, store them in the fridge.

Philippa says: “The acidity level is not sufficient to control bacteria growth so they need a helping hand – refrigeration.”

But for dressings made of just oil and vinegar, they will be fine at room temperature as long as they aren’t contaminated.
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