Home, Garden & Lifestyle

Refrigerator Hygiene & Efficiency

With groceries and power bills are getting more expensive, it makes sense to try and preserve food for as long as possible and make sure our fridges are working efficiently.

Believe it or not there is a right and a wrong way in terms of fridge shelf hierarchy. So let’s start with a run down on what belongs on what shelf. Starting from the top shelf and moving down through the shelves to the bottom shelf.

  1. Top Shelf:  Cheese & non-dripping dairy products
  2. Cooked Meats
  3. Salad/Vegetables: (keep above uncooked meats unless in a crisper drawer)
  4. Pies, Pâté etc.
  5. Uncooked red meats & sausages
  6. Bottom Shelf:  Uncooked Poultry

Fridge Tips

Refrigerate foods immediately after purchase.

  • Keep all foods wrapped, covered or containerised, especially meats.
  • Once a packaged food is opened it must be resealed when stored until finished.
  • Don’t store opened cans in the fridge, put the contents into another storage container.
  • Uncooked meats should be kept away from other foods and stored lowest.
  • Wash salads thoroughly before use and cover when in the fridge.
  • Make notes of use-by dates and check your fridge and pantry the night before garbage collection day and throw out any expired items.
  • To reduce smell, disease and the attraction of pests. Place leftover chicken and seafood scraps in a tied plastic bag in the freezer labeled “rubbish” and remember to put it into the Otto-bin on the following garbage day. Mark it on your calendar if you need to.
  • Ensure there is airflow around all items to maintain correct temperature. Don’t overload the fridge if possible or it will not operate at top efficiency.
  • If meat is to be frozen – freeze it immediately and never put thawed meats back into the freezer.
  • When thawing meats, thaw thoroughly before cooking either by putting meat out of the freezer to thaw in the fridge overnight, or by doing a rapid thaw in a microwave.
  • Eggs are best stored in the fridge.
  • Milks & creams easily absorb strong odours, so make sure they are not stored near strong smelling foods such as onions, fish or cheeses (even if covered).
  • Store newer items at the back of the shelf to encourage use of older items.
  • Keep a snack box loaded with daily selection of good food choices for children to access easily on a lower shelf or door.
  • Lastly, ensure that your fridge seals are doing their job. Not only do bad fridge seals threaten the safety of food quality but it puts a lot of work on the fridge motor to keep the fridge at optimum temperature, thus putting up your power bill.

For further information on food storage times and maximizing the shelf and fridge life of foods check out the following website: Food Science Australia Fact Sheet: Refrigerated storage of perishable foods. You may also want to check out this groovy chart from Daily Savings I printed a copy off, and laminated it for inside the pantry door. You could also stick it on the fridge with a couple of magnets for easy reference. Awesome resource!

You may want to also check out this YouTube video presentation by Danny Seo and Environmental Lifestyle expert with Epicurious entitled “Green Kitchen: Maximizing Your Fridge & Freezer.”

For a more updated article on how to repair your refrigerator yourself refer DoItYourself.com.

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