Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Refrigerator Food Safety. Is Your Fridge SAFE??

Today I'm going to start with a few things from yesterday's post:

1) I keep my bananas in the refrigerator because it slows down the ripening process. This has a lot to do with the humidity in your drawer. It should be set to low, because fruits ripen faster in areas of high humidity. Veggies are the opposite, as they will stay more crisp in areas of high humidity. BTW, it also helps to separate bananas! They will ripen slower if you separate them.

2) I keep my whole wheat flour in the refrigerator because, again, it will last longer in the fridge. Whole grains have the endosperm, germ, and the bran (refined grains don't contain bran and germ). The bran and germ contain oils that could possible go rancid. Your flour will last a long time outside the fridge, but it will last longer in the fridge!

3) I looked at the ingredients for the Silk Almond Milk and noticed the second ingredient is evaporated cane juice. What a BUMMER!! I will not be buying this anymore :(

How Safe is YOUR Refrigerator?!

My master's thesis focused on food safety, specifically which factors predict whether or not an RD will teach food safety (fresh vegetable food safety) to their clients and/or patients. You may find this strange, considering I have not once (that I can remember) written a post focusing on food safety. Having posted about the foods in my refrigerator yesterday, here are seven "Chilling Facts" about American's refrigerators, which were accumulated from research by Tennessee State University, Kansas State University, and RTI International.

Source: The ADATimes, a publication of The American Dietetic Association

1) Fewer than 50% of Americans know that their refrigerator should be below 40 degrees F. If it's higher than that your food is at risk of being contaminated by bacteria (and I'm not talking the good bacteria that you find in yogurt!).

2) A large majority of Americans have no idea what the current temperature of their refrigerator is. Do you have a thermometer in your refrigerator? I'll admit, I don't. I'm bad. However I do know that my refrigerator is cold enough because the food in the way back always freezes. I should still get one though. And it's not just important to get a thermometer, it's also important to check the thermometer! One of the areas I'm not sure about, despite my food freezing in the back, is the food on my door.....

3) Most refrigerators tested by researchers (76%) had an internal temperature that exceeded 40 degrees F. Ninety-one percent had door temperatures about 40 degrees F. Try not to keep foods like meat, poultry, fish, or dairy on the door. When you open the refrigerator those are the first to get warm. Same with your freezer.

4) More than half of Americans store their food in a way that makes cross-contamination an issue. According to the article and the research, it's likely that many people have spoiled food in their refrigerator right NOW! Remember, eggs can be stored up to four to five weeks beyond the carton's packing date. Leftovers should be discarded after four days. Also, don't place raw poultry or meat on the top shelf unless it is well packaged. To learn more, check out FoodSafety.gov.

5) Very few people (if at all) clean their refrigerators thoroughly. As part of my research at OSU I had to take a sponge and do swabs of people's refrigerators, under their drawers. You should have seen some of the crap I saw.....nauseating. Have you taken your drawer out lately?? A thorough cleaning includes emptying out the fridge, cleaning out the interior surfaces with a wet towel or disinfectant wipe, and taking out the bins/drawers to clean them, and clean the area underneath. I do this before I go to the grocery store, when my fridge is pretty empty. Be sure to DRY ALL SURFACES because a wet refrigerator means bacteria may thrive.

6) The produce bin is the area in the fridge that is most likely to harbor bacteria. The researchers didn't find just any bacteria either, they were pathogenic bacteria such as E. Coli and Salmonella! This doesn't surprise me after some of the stuff that I saw during my time swabbing people's refrigerators. Make sure you use your produce fairly quickly and don't allow it to spoil. If it does, clean the drawer with an antibacterial rag or spray.

7) A faulty door seal is a major problem! Check your door seal and see if there is resistance with a gentle tug. There should be some resistance. Also check for mold between the cracks (there shouldn't be mold). This is typically a problem in older refrigerators, but can be a problem even in new ones! If your door seal if faulty or the seal is losing it's grip, this could create condensation inside the fridge, causing mold and inconsistent temperatures.

Coming Up
My next post will include a new recipe and the low down on the common ingredient; soy protein isolate. Later in the week I will show you what's in our freezer and cabinets. Oh yeah, I'll also be posting about our big MOVE! BTW, does anyone have any good suggestions for a mattress? We're currently looking for a new one and we don't know where to begin.

Thanks for reading everyone. Have a great day!

39 comments :

  1. Ummm I am victim to all of these. I never clean my fridge. As is...NEVER EVER.

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  2. Great post! I am going to check the temperature in my fridge tonight :)

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  3. I never knew about the banana thing...

    I always though they would turn brown faster when put in the fridge. Thanks for the info!

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  4. I have to keep allllll my fruits and veggies in the fridge since I don't have a REAL kitchen but I always keep them in ziploc bags, ESP my Bananas! I notice that since I have so many fresh fruits and veggies, my fridge gets stinky so I have to keep like 4 Baking Soda boxes in there...

    Oh I am going to put my WW flour in the fridge when I get home! thanks for the tip =)

    Have a great day love!

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  5. I'm a freak about keeping my fridge clean. I go through and throw out leftovers every couple of days cause I don't want to chance getting sick from spoiled food. Why am I a freak? Well let's just say my parents fridge was always an interesting science experiment and I had my share of tummy issues because of it.

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  6. that's a good reminder to clean the fridge often. I probably do every month or so, need to do it more often! And temperature? I think i got that, because often tofu gets frozen in fridge! ;)

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  7. Oh man, I'm so bad about cleaning my fridge. It happens about once a year.

    On the other hand, I do keep it really cold, so hopefully that counts for something!

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  8. ugh my fridge pisses me off on a daily basis because it freezes my greek yogurt ALL the time. well mainly it's prob bc deej pushes it to the back. mom fail. great fridge tips girl! i love that our fridge has a thermostat that shows the temp. i'm gonna make sure to keep it below 40 from now on!

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  9. Food safety is one of my areas of practice as well, not just from practice with transplant patients, but I did research in this area with my master's too. I am like the food safety police around here. Actually the other day Ryan and I were discussing this because he has a kitchen in the building where he works and they are responsible for it but many people come in to use the ice machine and he is very concerned about them putting dirty hands in there and the potential for spreading disease this way. He also has concerns about how they defrost meats and things, so he may post some "reminder" signs soon.

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  10. Thanks for the great info. - I'm going to add this post to my favorites so I can refer to it when I get into my own apartment and have a fridge :-)

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  11. Ewwww, I am guilty of alot of these things. Except the cross contamination, I am kind of a freak about that. Great tips and information!

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  12. welp! I guess ill be cleaning my fridge tonight!!

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  13. Ugh, I could definitely use these tips and a clean-out of my refrigerator. My roommate and I's fridge is really starting to smell...and who knows what temperature it our fridge is.

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  14. why is it that when i put my bananas in the fridge they turn black!?

    i always make sure to do regular cleanouts in my fridge.. its amazing what one forgets crawled and seeped down the back of the drawers lol ew.

    great post <3

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  15. I'm so excited to learn that seperating bananas slows the ripening process! SO cool! Definitely going home from work and seperating my bananas tonight... :-)

    Good luck on the move! I'm very, very excited and happy for you!! I can't wait to hear all about your new house - and your new kitchen! :-)

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  16. We do the same thing with our bananas - glad to see someone else does it too so we don't look so strange! :)

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  17. I put my bananas in the fridge too when they start getting too ripe. But I didn't know that separating them helped too. Thanks!

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  18. Great post, what an important topic. I deal with food safety everyday and have gotten slightly paranoid. I'm happy to report that we keep a thermometer hanging in the front of the fridge at all times!! Gotta go, our dogs going nuts for some reason..

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  19. We have a Lady American mattress and love it. Wanted to say that before I forgot.

    Anyways, I cannot believe the produce drawer is the area that harbors the most bacteria. Wowza! Learn something new every day. I BADLY need to clean my fridge. I am the first to admit it is NASTY! Probably not bad by most standards, but it needs help!

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  20. Um oops- I think I've cleaned the fridge maybe once since I moved in? Oops. I'll do that, as soon as I get home. I promise.
    I'll check the temp too.
    Oops

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  21. Hey! I'm new to blogging, but I'm an avid reader of your blog and I love the nutrition info. If it's not a hassle (I'm sure you already have a ton of blogs on your blogroll) check mine out @ www.nourishednutrition.blogspot.com

    ^^ anna H

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  22. Great post! I had no idea that bananas will ripen slower if you separate them! I'm also guilty of not owning a thermometer in my refrigerator.

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  23. Whoa, I didn't know half of the stuff you listed. Great informational post, Gina. I wonder if we should actually be keeping thermometers in the fridge?

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  24. My fridge is on its last leg. I'm sure noting is safe inside that baby! HA!

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  25. Oh my! I feel like my refrigerator is a feastation of yuck after reading this post. I really really need to do a big cleaning! Thanks for the thought provoking info.

    Oh and as far as not spending money goes, you're not missing out on anything as you already know. You're being smart because you're buying a home!!!

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  26. Thanks for this! Great reminder to go home and clean my fridge! I can be pretty lazy about it. Sometimes I don't do it just because I don't want to touch my roomate's food lol.

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  27. I didn't know your master's was in food safety! It's such an important topic, especially now with the highly publicized outbreaks of various bacteria. There are so many steps that someone can take to keep themselves safe, which is why I love your list, Gina!

    Whenever I go over to my in-laws' house, I'm always rearranging stuff in their fridge (raw meat above the produce - really??), and cleaning their counters. A little OCD, but I have to eat there, too!

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  28. I'm currently breaking several of these rules. I'm so ashamed!

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  29. I am so anal about cleaning out our refrigerator, and my husband (kindly) teases me. I can't wait to show him this post!

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  30. Um, I now know how I will spend my weekend.... cleaning my fridge!

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  31. Wow, I am guilty as charged. I knew NONE of these things about my fridge and food safety before reading this post. Obviously, i also have no idea what temperature my fridge is either.

    Is evaporated cane juice even worse than sugar, or are they virtually the same thing? I sometimes think to myself, if it's not HFCS, then it's already 1 step beyond unhealthy as long as everything is eaten in moderation. Am i giving myself false hope?

    Also, I can't wait for your next post on soy protein isloate. It is in EVERYTHING!!! I recently read a few articles about the dangers of that in veggie burgers because it contains hexane, a neurotoxin, even Amy's! Here are 2 links that scared me:http://motherjones.com/blue-marble/2010/04/which-veggie-burgers-contain-neurotoxin and http://food.change.org/blog/view/does_your_veggie_burger_contain_neurotoxins

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  32. I am definitely of not cleaning out my fridge that often. This sounds horrible but my mom came over to help me..she is the best cleaner. We took everything out, cleaned and sanitized. It definitely made a difference. I also had a couple "science experiments" if you will, toward the back. Horrible.
    Great post, as always!

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  33. Hey again Gina! I was wondering how you would suggest training for a 5k run. I'm physically pretty fit but I don't run often; however, I really want to enter some races this summer to keep me active when I'm not in school. Thanks for posting on my blog!

    (ha ha, I posted this by accident on an older post because I scrolled down too far. You may see it again on another day's comments page.)

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  34. Ah! I've been putting cleaning my fridge for weeks, but I think you scared me into it!
    kellapillar.blogspot.com/

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  35. Great post Gina. I'm interested to know how many dietitian actually counsel on food safety with their clients! I actually don't... now thinking maybe I should, but there's so much to discuss anyways in a short amount of time.

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  36. Some to-dos for refrigerator food safety:
    Proper drainage for cleaning, Grease traps with proper access, Adequate ventilation for refrigeration condenser units and install air purifier to prevent bad odors.

    Jessica Cauffiel.

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