A refrigerator is one of the most essential appliances in a kitchen. In fact, it is so commonly used these days that many of us take it for granted. Let us look at some factors that make refrigeration so crucial.
Why is Refrigeration Important?
Bacteria is present everywhere, It is found in the air, soil, water and in the food we eat. When bacteria have access to food, moisture and warmth, they multiply quickly. Certain types of bacteria can cause illness or food poisoning. Most bacteria grow the fastest in a temperature of 40 to 140 °F. Some of types of bacteria are even capable of doubling in number in 20 minutes. Refrigerators have an internal temperature of less than 40 °F, drastically slowing down bacteria growth.
What kinds of Bacteria are there in Refrigerated Foods?
When it comes to refrigerated food, there are two important families of bacteria to consider: pathogenic bacteria and spoilage bacteria. Pathogenic bacteria lead to foodborne illnesses and multiply very quickly in temperatures between 40 and 140 °F. These pathogens cannot be detected easily in foods because they do not change the taste, smell, or appearance of a food.
Spoilage bacteria cause foods to go bad faster and develop off-putting odors, tastes, and textures. They can grow even at low temperatures below 40°F. Eventually, they multiply enough to cause a bad smell or taste in the food. This type of bacteria causes more problems with food quality than food safety.
How can we ensure a safe refrigeration temperature?
For food safety reasons, it is necessary to monitor the internal temperature of the refrigerator. It should be set at a temperature of 40 °F or below. Some refrigerators come with built-in thermometers. For those that do not, it is highly advisable to have an appliance thermometer in the refrigerator to monitor the temperature. This will be especially useful in the case of a power outage. If the temperature of the refrigerator is still 40 °F after the power comes back on, it would mean the food is safe. Food items exposed to temperatures higher than 40 °F for longer than 2 hours should not be consumed. Another way to maintain a safe temperature is to ensure that the refrigerator doors are always closed tightly. A good habit is to only leave the doors open for as long as necessary and to close them immediately after.
How should we handle Foods for Refrigerating?
Hot food can be stored directly in the refrigerator. It can also be quickly cooled in an ice bath before refrigeration.
When placing any food in a refrigerator, it should be sealed or covered to prevent it from picking up odors from other foods. Large amounts of food should be redistributed into smaller portions and placed in shallow containers before going into the refrigerator. This applies to big pots of soups or stew. Large cuts of meat or whole poultry should also be cut into smaller pieces and put in shallow containers before refrigerating.