Many people are not aware how easily bacteria can travel from utensils, cutting boards to different foods and even from one food source to another. Cross contamination and food borne illness can be easily avoided by following some simple rules.
The juices from raw meat contain bacteria that can be harmful and spread unwillingly to other foods in your refrigerator. As meat is oftentimes bought in a solid, frozen form, it can easily slip your mind that as it defrosts, even if only slightly, juices can drip to other foods that are stored underneath. Any type of meat should be wrapped thoroughly and placed on a plate to avoid spills. Where you place food is of great importance. Meat, even wrapped and placed on a plate, should be stored at the bottom of the refrigerator. There is one general rule that you have to keep in mind every time and that is that the foods placed on top will spill into the food below in the event of an accident. You should consider this “spill order” briefly every time you store something in the fridge. The foods that are deemed “gross” or “icky” and have a higher chance of spilling should be stored at the bottom.
Fruit and vegetables may seem healthy and clean, but before getting to you they were handled by several pairs of hands and they are most likely covered in different types of pesticides and herbicides. Bacteria can rest on their skin even if they were grown organically. To avoid contamination to other foods in the refrigerator all fresh fruits and vegetables should be washed thoroughly before being stored. Use only water, but in abundance, and use your hands to wash them in order to remove any bacteria more efficiently.
Fruits and vegetables need some special attention even when they are stored. You should designate crisper drawers that should only be used for this type of food. Keep in mind to wash and clean the drawers frequently and remove the fruits and vegetables that have gone bad. The drawer should be clean, dry and checked daily.
Eggs are an important part of the daily meals, but as nutritive as they may be, they are not stored in very clean environments and can contain bacteria if they are unwashed and uncooked. Inspect every carton of eggs before even buying it, making sure that there are no broken eggs. Check the weight of the carton, the heavier it is the fresher the eggs are. Eggs should be stored in a spill safe container at a temperature of 40F or even below. Choose the shelves where you know the temperature is consistent and constant. Most refrigerators have read-made containers for eggs on the door, but this is not the best place to store them as warm air enters each time the door is opened. If stored properly, you can keep the eggs fresh for more than four weeks.
Avoiding cross contamination is easy to do and becomes a habit very soon. By remembering simple rules like the “spill order” and generally paying attention, food safety is a given.