March is National Nutrition Month, when the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics reminds everyone to return to the basics of healthy eating. It is also the time of year when the Academy celebrates expertise of registered dietitian nutritionists as the food and nutrition experts.
Mold, bacteria and spills in the refrigerator can put you at risk for food poisoning. Maintaining a clean refrigerator can help improve the safety and quality of your foods. For the best cleaning results, always refer to your refrigerator's owner's manual, but here are a few simple refrigerator cleaning tips:
- Wipe up spills immediately, especially from raw meat juices. Defrosting meats on the bottom shelf in a covered container reduces the chance of a spill and cross-contamination.
- Scrub down the inside of your refrigerator (including shelves and drawers) using a clean sponge and warm soapy water. Rinse with clean water, then dry with paper towels or a clean cloth. Avoid using cleaners that may pass on taste to food or cause damage to surfaces.
- Frequently clean the refrigerator handle. That is the part of the fridge that gets touched countless times a day.
- Eliminate odors between cleanings by placing an opened box of baking soda in the back of the refrigerator. Change the box every three months.
- Keep the front grill free of dust to allow free airflow to the condenser for best cooling and efficiency. Also, clean the condenser coils with a brush or vacuum. Unplug the refrigerator when cleaning the coils.
What's in the Refrigerator?
Sort through foods at least once a week. Throw out foods that have been "hibernating" in the fridge. Check expiration dates to help determine when to dispose of foods. But when in doubt, throw it out.
What's the difference between "use by" and "expiration?" "Use by" or "best if used by" date is not a safety-related date. It's the last date recommended for use of the product at optimal quality. "Expiration" date means don't consume the product after this date.
For a complete shelf-life guide, download the free Is My Food Safe? mobile app.