There are many ways in which the food packaging industry helps maintain the freshness of food. Once you get the product home, it’s up to you to ensure it stays safe until it’s needed. How can you store food correctly in the fridge and freezer to prevent it going off?
We all like to do our bit for the environment, but reducing the amount of food we throw away could also be beneficial for our finances. Only buying the food we actually need is one way of achieving this. However, there’s also the matter of storing the food correctly, which can help to maintain the freshness.
Storing Food in the Fridge
You might think that if you put the food straight in the fridge, it’ll be okay to eat when you want it. Food packaging machinery helps to keep food fresher for longer by wrapping it correctly. However, once you’ve opened it, the product won’t remain fresh forever.
Most fresh foods with a use by date need to be kept in the fridge to reduce the risk of bacteria developing. To keep the food at the right temperature, your fridge should be set to less than 55C. Only take food out of the fridge when you’re ready to use it and put it straight back again when you’re finished.
Many products are packaged to maintain their freshness. Fruit and vegetables, such as carrots and peppers, remain fresher if they’re kept in their bags. Cheese is often sold in re-sealable bags to prevent it going hard.
It’s vitally important that you store meat correctly in the fridge; otherwise you run the risk of developing food poisoning. Raw meat should always be kept at the bottom to stop it dripping onto other food. You should always keep cooked and raw meats separate. Never eat meat that’s past its use by date, even if it looks and smells fine.
If you’re saving leftover food, then you need to ensure that it’s cooled properly before you put it in the fridge. Cover it up or place it in a container and then use it within two days.
Use Your Freezer Effectively
A freezer is an excellent way of keeping food fresher for longer. However, it’s important that you use it correctly. If you’re freezing raw meat, then make sure it’s before the use by date. When you want to use it, defrost it completely and ensure its cooked all the way through. Raw meat cannot be refrozen. However, if you’ve then cooked the meat, it can be cooled thoroughly and frozen once.
Any food that you freeze needs to be placed in an appropriate container / freezer bag. This will stop the food developing freezer burn, which can make the product inedible.
The way we store food can have a direct influence on the amount of waste we create. Read the labels on packaging, as these provide you with useful information on how to store it correctly and whether or not it can be frozen.
Michael Goodland writes regularly on food health and safety issues for a range of consumer websites and blogs. He is a keen advocate of the campaigns to minimise food wastage. You can get more information on storing food safely by searching online.