Storing food can at times be a challenge, and it can be difficult to determine if the food in your fridge or your pantry is still safe to eat or if it has already seen its best days. While the avocado that has begun sprouting hair, or the ground beef that has turned gray, is an easy problem to spot, other safety issues can be more subtle. It is important, therefore, to use some basic food safety guidelines when storing and using the food you buy.
One of the most basic food storage guidelines is to carefully check the expiration date printed on the package prior to eating or cooking with any of the foods you buy. Those expiration dates serve an important purpose, and they should not be ignored. Any foods that have passed their expiration date should be discarded immediately.
No matter what type of food you store, it is important to store it at the right temperature. It is important to set the temperature on your refrigerator and freezer properly, at 40° F and 0° F respectively. These temperatures are important for the safe storage of food.
In order to store food properly it is also important to start with the freshest products. When shopping for meat, poultry, fish and seafood, it is important to choose the freshest cuts you can find. It is all important to carefully check the expiration dates on the packages, especially if the meat or seafood will be frozen for later use.
After the meats and seafood have been prepared for freezing, be sure to right the date and the contents on each package before it goes to the deep freeze. There are plenty of commercial freezer labels available for this purpose, but a simple piece of masking tape can work just as well.
The type of packaging you use is an important part of storing food safely as well. It is important to choose packaging with an airtight seal, as this will help keep the food fresher longer. An airtight seal will also help to prevent the all too common problem of freezer burn.
Now that the food has been properly frozen, using airtight containers that have been carefully labeled and dated, it is important to consider how to thaw the food for preparation. Frozen foods should always be thawed in the refrigerator, as this will help to retard the growth of disease causing bacteria and microorganisms. When thawing meats, the rule of thumb is to allow one day of thawing for every five pounds of meat.