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Food Poisoning Prevention: Safe Food Storage

Safe storage of food can be an important step in preventingfood poisoning (or "foodborne illness"). Follow thesesteps on safe food storage:

  • Refrigerate or freeze perishables immediately.
  • Check periodically that your refrigerator's temperature is 40ºF (5ºC) and that your freezer's temperature is 0ºF (-18ºC) using a refrigerator/freezer thermometer.
  • When storing meat and poultry, make sure their juices cannot escape and contaminate other foods. They can be stored as purchased in the plastic wrap for a day or two. If only part of the meat or poultry is going to be used right away, it can be wrapped loosely for refrigerator storage.
  • Foods in the freezer should be wrapped tightly. Leftovers should be stored in tight containers.
  • Store eggs in their carton in the refrigerator itself rather than on the door where the temperature is warmer.
  • Seafood should always be kept in the refrigerator or freezer until preparation time.
  • Do not crowd the refrigerator or freezer so tightly that air cannot circulate. Check leftovers daily for spoilage. Anything that looks or smells suspicious should be thrown out.
  • Mold is a sure sign of spoilage. Although not a major health threat, mold can make food unappetizing. Most moldy foods should be thrown out. You can save molding hard cheeses, salami, and firm fruits and vegetables if cut out the mold and a large area around it, to ensure the removal of any mold that might grown below the surface of the food.
  • Check labels on cans or jars for storage instructions. It is best to throw out items you have neglected to refrigerate.
  • Although some foods remain safe at room temperature, they should still be stored properly. For example, potatoes and onions should not be stored under the sink because leakage from the pipes can damage food. Potatoes should be stored in a cool, dry place. Also, do not store foods near household cleaning products and chemicals.
  • Check canned goods to see whether they are sticky on the outside. This may indicate a leak. Newly purchased cans that appear to be leaking should be returned to the store, and the store should notify the FDA.

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