Food Safety In the Refrigerator

Everyone needs reminders of how to handle food safely. As a professional who teaches food safety, I believe you can’t hear it enough. Small reminders and a bit of education can help save a lot of grief in preventing a multitude of food borne illnesses for anyone who handles food.

Do you know how to keep food safe in the refrigerator?

Current Contents of Refrigerator

Current Contents of Refrigerator (Photo credit: Natalie Maynor)

This post will outline the basic concept of refrigerator storage to reduce the chance of cross contamination.

The top of the fridge should be home to all ready to eat foods. Sandwich meats, cheese, leftovers get stored above raw products.

Some refrigerators have 2 bottom drawers. Designate one for raw meats and one for fresh produce. If you only have one large drawer, buy plastic storage bin that will fit on one side and designate that for meat storage. Keep all poultry separate from meat.

Raw meats should be stored in the following order

  1. Things that swim
  2. Things that walk
  3. Things that are ground-up walking around
  4. Things that fly or come from things that fly

This is called “The Swim, Walk, Fly System” of refrigerated storage.

To describe each category:

  1. Things that swim

    English: Sushi is a dish made of vinegared ric...

    Raw seafood (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Raw fresh water and salt water fish, whole or fillets, shell-fish, shrimp, lobster, crab, mussels, oysters, etc.

If it is pre-cooked, it goes with the ready-to-eat category.

2. Things that walk

English: Veal shank used for ossobuco. Dansk: ...

English: Veal shank used for osso buco.  (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Raw beef, pork, veal, lamb, venison, boar, buffalo

     3. Things that are ground-up walking around

Raw Ground beef

Raw Ground beef (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Any raw ground beef, veal, pork, venison, buffalo: if it is ground up it goes below whole muscle meats.

      4. Things that fly or come from things that fly

Raw chicken fillet

Raw chicken fillet (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

All raw birds: chicken, quail, turkey, pheasant, squab, duck, and even though it does not fly, ostrich belongs in this category.

Raw eggs belong on the bottom shelf too. If one breaks, it won’t have the chance of dripping all over other things in the refrigerator.

Here is an interesting experiment to try with a raw egg:

English: The white eggshell has been removed b...

English: The white eggshell has been removed by soaking a normal chicken egg into vinegar for 48 hours. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Of course don’t eat the egg after.

Make it a habit to wash the drawers and shelves when they get soiled or sticky.

An open box of baking soda will help absorb strong odors.

After handling raw meats, poultry and seafood, be sure to wash and sanitize the knives, cutting boards, sinks and counter tops to prevent cross contamination.

Clorox Clean-up spray does a great job of this. Use gloves when handling to protect your skin.

That’s it for now.

I’m going to go soak an egg.

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5 thoughts on “Food Safety In the Refrigerator

  1. why we use that method?
    the firsr drawer we put the walk animal then swim
    if that way we have cross cotamination or not
    tell me

    • It has everything to do with the internal cooking temperature of the meat items. Fish get cooked to 145F, whole muscle meats, also to 145F but ground up muscle meats must be cooked to 155F and all birds should go to 165F.
      The bacteria we are dealing with are specifically: E coli (killed at 155F) and Salmonella (killed at 165F). If you don’t cook the items to these temps, you could make someone very sick.

  2. Pingback: 10 Tips Addressing “Meanwhile” in Cooking | Spoon Feast

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