When spring arrives, we typically deep clean for the coming season. With the cold weather outside, it’s a good time to clean the freezer. It’s important to keep the freezer clean of frost and food debris. Here are some tips for cleaning and maintaining your freezer:
- Remove all frozen food items.
- Check items for expiration dates and for freezer burn.
- Consider throwing out any food that appears old and dried out. It may still be safe to eat, but the quality may be poor. Ice crystals on the inside of packages may indicate thawing and refreezing—those packages may need to be thrown out. Frozen food can be stored up to 1 year.
- Pack food items you are keeping in another freezer or a cooler until you can return them to the freezer.
- Wipe down the freezer with one tablespoon of baking soda in one quart of water. Then wipe with clean water before turning the freezer back on.
- Let the freezer cool down for about 30 minutes before placing the frozen items back into it.
- Put a freezer thermometer near the door of the freezer and check it periodically. Adjust the temperature control as needed to keep foods at or below 0°F.
You can see a video on how to clean your refrigerator on the Spend Smart. Eat Smart. website, spendsmart.extension.iastate.edu/cook/organize-your-space/.
Source: Michigan State University Extension, www.msue.msu.edu.
For more information, visit www.FoodSafety.gov.
Myth: “It is OK to wash bagged greens if I want to. There’s no harm!”
Fact: Rinsing leafy greens that are ready to eat (those labeled “washed,” “triple washed,” or “ready to eat”) will not enhance safety and could actually increase the potential for cross-contamination. This means harmful bacteria from your hands or kitchen surfaces could find their way onto the greens while washing them.
Myth: “I don’t need to rinse this melon for safety. The part I eat is on the inside!”
Fact: A knife or peeler passing through the rind can carry harmful bacteria from the outside into the flesh of the melon. The rind also touches edible portions when cut fruit is arranged or stacked for serving and garnish. Rinse melons under running tap water while rubbing with your hands or scrubbing with a clean brush. Dry the melon with a clean cloth or paper towel.
Myth: “Be sure to rinse or wash raw chicken, turkey, or other poultry before cooking it!”
Fact: Rinsing poultry is an unsafe practice because contaminated water may splash and spread bacteria to other foods and kitchen surfaces.
Myth: “Cross-contamination doesn’t happen in the refrigerator…it’s too cold in there for germs to survive!”
Fact: Some harmful bacteria can survive and even grow in cool, moist environments. Keep fresh produce separate from raw meat, poultry, seafood, and eggs. For tips on how to clean and disinfect your refrigerator, go to http://bit.ly/1DeqVeO.
Eggs made news earlier this year because of a salmonella outbreak. Properly handling and storing eggs will reduce the risk of contaminating eggs with salmonella. Salmonella infection is often the result of eating raw or undercooked eggs or egg products, meat, or poultry. It can take from several hours to about two days to cause symptoms. Following is a list of possible signs and symptoms of salmonella infection:
- Abdominal pain
- Muscle pains
- Blood in the stool
There are many ways to make sure eggs are safe to eat. Use the following tips:
- Buy eggs only if sold from a refrigerator or refrigerated case at 45°F.
- Store eggs in their original carton on a shelf in the refrigerator (not in the door) and use them within 3 weeks for best quality.
- Wash hands, utensils, equipment, and work surfaces with hot, soapy water before and after they come in contact with eggs and egg-containing foods.
- Cook eggs until both the yolk and the white are firm. Scrambled eggs should not be runny.
- Casseroles and other dishes containing eggs should be cooked to 160°F (72°C). Use a food thermometer to be sure.
- For recipes that call for eggs that are raw or undercooked when the dish is served—Caesar salad dressing and homemade ice cream are two examples— use pasteurized egg products.
- Avoid taste-testing egg-containing foods before they are thoroughly cooked.
- For buffet-style serving, hot egg dishes should be kept hot, and cold egg dishes kept cold.
- Cooked eggs, including hard-boiled eggs, and egg-containing foods should not sit out for more than 2 hours. Within 2 hours either reheat or refrigerate.
- Use hard-cooked eggs (in the shell or peeled) within 1 week after cooking.
- Refrigerate leftover cooked egg dishes and use within 3 to 4 days. When refrigerating a large amount of a hot egg-containing leftover, divide it into several shallow containers so it will cool quickly.
- Cooked eggs for a picnic should be packed in an insulated cooler with enough ice or frozen gel packs to keep them cold. Don’t put the cooler in the trunk— carry it in the air-conditioned passenger compartment of the car.
Source: Retrieved from “Playing It Safe With Eggs”