A Parameter to Stock and Maintain Food in Refrigerators
A refrigerator is not just a container where you keep things cool. Refrigeration slows down the bacteria growth and increases the lifespan of food, keeping food fresh and safe. Storing foods in the proper area of the fridge reduces the risk of cross-contamination.
Maintaining proper temperatures of the chiller and freezer compartment is important. Bacteria grow rapidly within the danger zone temperatures of between 5°C to 60°C. As such, ensure that chillers are kept at temperatures between 0°C to 4°C. Freezers should be kept at -12°C or -18°C if you intend to store frozen meats for a longer period.
Most of us stuff the refrigerators to the fullest, especially during festive periods. Stuffing or over-stocking blocks the air, preventing the cold air to circulate. As such, the refrigerator has to work harder to maintain the temperature.
Refrigerators should also be cleaned regularly so that frozen and chilled food remains safe. Check the rubber lining to ensure that it is clean and in good condition as this helps to insulate the refrigerators.
All food handlers should follow a certain parameter when using the refrigerator
1. Keep Safe Refrigerator Temperatures
- Always keep the temperature of chillers between 0°C and 4°C and the temperature of freezers at -12°C and below.
- Maintain the temperatures of chillers and freezers. Placing a food thermometer in the fridge can ensure the right temperature. Steps to determine the temperature of the refrigerator:
i) Keep thermometers in the center of the refrigerator in a suitable place so that it's easy to read and close the door of the refrigerator.
ii) Leave the thermometer inside the refrigerator for about 10-15minutes to capture accurate temperature reading.
iii) Always read the temperature without taking the thermometer out of the refrigerator. If the temperature is not within the range of 0°C to 4°C (chiller) and -12°C and below (Freezer). Please redo the temperature reading again.
iv) Confirm that the refrigerator and thermometer are both in good working condition.
v) Do not over-stuff the refrigerator as this would prevent or hamper proper cool air circulation within the refrigerator.
vi) Avoid keeping the refrigerator door open for a long time.
2. Storing food safely in the Refrigerator
i) Foods should be rapidly cooled, placed in airtight containers and stored in refrigerators as soon as possible. Minimising the exposure to the danger zone temperature helps to prevent bacteria from multiplying to large numbers.
ii) Always store cooked and ready to eat food above raw food. This prevents from cross contamination from the raw food.
iii) Store food in containers with airtight covers.
iv) Do not marinate food at room temperature. Always keep food that is being marinated in the refrigerator.
v) Follow First Expire First Out (FEFO) procedures when storing and consuming food. Older items that have earlier expiry dates should be stored at the front of the shelves or racks and consumed first.
vi) Unpreserved food should be shelved at the main part of the refrigerator. Do not keep it on the door of the refrigerator as it changes temperature when the door is opened.
3. Keep the refrigerator clean
i) Clean spills immediately with a damp cloth and then dry it with a clean, dry cloth.
ii) Clean the refrigerator regularly with a sponge and warm soapy water. Always use a clean, dry cloth to wipe off excess moisture after cleaning.
iii) Wash removable shelves and drawers with warm and soapy water and then rinse it with clean water and dry.
iv) Clean the refrigerator regularly with a sponge and warm soapy water. Always use a clean, dry cloth to wipe off excess moisture after cleaning.
v) Take stock of items in the refrigerator and dispose of items that have turned bad immediately.
The freezer should be kept about 60-70 percent full. Place ice cubes in the freezer to replace the gap to ensure that the freezer stays cold even when there is a power cut. Also, keep liquids in the fridge as this acts as a temporary chilling tool to generate some coolness to the unit when there is a power cut.
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