Fresh food is a wonderful thing, but it can spoil if it’s not handled properly. Food production companies go to great lengths to protect the food they produce so it arrives fresh and safe — for example, using deep freezers and leak detection equipment for food packaging. To make the most of your food, follow these 5 tips to protect your food from going bad.
1. Keep it cold.
Fresh foods like meats, vegetables, and dairy need to be kept cold to avoid spoilage. A healthy refrigerator temperature is at or below 4 degrees celsius. Check your fridge regularly to make sure it’s doing its job and keeping foods cold.
If you find your food is going bad before it should, consider turning the temperature down on the fridge to protect food further.
2. Keep hot foods hot.
When you’ve cooked a big beautiful meal, don’t let it go to waste by letting it sit out on the countertop. Any foods left at room temperature for more than 4 hours may be susceptible to significant bacterial growth, and should be disposed of.
If you want to keep foods out for serving, make sure to keep them heated above 60 celsius. This will prevent growth of bacteria and keep the foods safe to eat, while also holding them at a nice temperature for eating.
3. Inspect food packaging.
When you buy foods at the grocery store, check the seals on the packaging to make sure they’re airtight. Don’t buy any product that’s been opened, and return anything that smells off.
Food packaging companies use leak detection equipment to ensure their foods stay airtight, but accidents can happen during the transportation and loading process. This means the consumer should always check packaging to make sure it’s airtight by squeezing and checking for air leakage.
4. Know the signs of spoilage.
A good rule of thumb is to use your nose to evaluate whether something has gone bad. If a food smells bad, off, or simply unusual, it’s often a good idea to toss it out. You can also check foods for mold, slimy or unusual texture, and even taste. If a food tastes off, you’re better off just throwing it out.
If you’re ever unsure if a food is still good to eat, you can do a quick search online to find out the signs of spoilage for that food.
5. Store it in airtight packaging.
Airflow is one of the biggest drivers of food spoilage, because it can help certain bacteria grow. Of course, some bacteria specialize in anaerobic or low-airflow conditions, but they typically require certain temperatures, moisture levels, and acidity in order to thrive. Most of the time, aerobic or oxygen-requiring bacteria are responsible for food spoilage.
For many foods, including dried goods and leftovers, storing them in airtight containers such as mason jars, tight-sealing tupperwares, or vacuum seal bags can help preserve their shelf life and prevent them going stale or off.