Renfrewshire Council

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Safe food storage

Poor food handling in kitchens is thought to cause about a third of food poisoning cases.

You can protect yourself and your family from food poisoning by paying attention to how you store food.

Store foods in the right place

  • Raw foods and perishable ready to eat foods belong in the fridge, in separate containers, with raw foods on the bottom of the fridge.
  • Keep eggs and dairy products in the fridge.
  • Check the labels of food jars to see which ones need to go in the fridge once they've been opened.
  • Never put open cans in the fridge. Transfer the contents into a storage container or covered bowl.
  • Reseal packets of dried foods such as flour, rice and breakfast cereal tightly after opening, or transfer the contents to storage jars.

Store foods for the right length of time

  • No food lasts forever, however well stored. Most pre-packed foods carry either a 'Use By' or 'Best Before' date.

'Use by' dates

  • 'Use by' dates are for highly perishable foods that go off quickly. No-one likes to waste food, but it can be very dangerous to eat foods past their use by date.

'Best before' dates

  • 'Best before' dates are for foods with a longer life. They indicate how long the food will be at its best quality. If a food looks or smells off, don't eat it - even if it is within its best before date. Use up leftovers from the fridge within two days.

Temperature control

Good temperature control is essential to keep certain foods safe.

Danger zone: Food poisoning bacteria grow best between 50C and 630C. This temperature range is called the 'danger zone'.

Tips

Follow these simple tips to prevent those dreaded bacteria from multiplying:

  • After shopping, get chilled and frozen foods home as quickly as possible.
  • Insulated bags with ice packs are ideal for carrying and storing picnics and lunch boxes. They keep the food at a safe temperature for several hours.
  • Keep fridges working at between 1-40C. Use a fridge thermometer to check the temperature.
  • Freezers should operate at -180C or below. Again, you should check with a thermometer.
  • Be very careful with ready to eat foods, as leaving them at room temperature for a long time can allow harmful bacteria to grow.
  • Take care with leftovers. Throw away any perishable food that has been standing at room temperature for more than a couple of hours.

Cooking

  • Cooking food thoroughly is the key to killing most of the harmful bacteria that cause food poisoning. Take extra care to cook large meat joints, poultry, and burgers so that they are piping hot throughout, any juices are running clear and there are no pink bits remaining.
  • If you are reheating foods, make sure they are piping hot throughout.

For general healthy eating and food safety advice, visit Nutrition & Healthy Eating (Food Standards Scotland).

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