A quarter of food poisoning is due to inadequate refrigeration, since pathogenic microorganisms reproduce quickly if found at room temperature, according to experts from the Organization of Consumers and Users (OCU), who insist on taking extreme precautions to avoid risks, especially in summer.
As a guideline, the OCU experts indicate through these guidelines how long some of the most common foods last in the fridge and freezer: fillets of beef (2-4 days in the fridge and 6 to 12 months in the freezer), chicken or turkey (1-2 days in the fridge and less than 12 months in the freezer), white fish (1 to 2 days in the fridge, 6 months in the freezer), blue fish (1 to 3 days in the fridge and less than three months in the freezer), pork chops (2-4 days in the fridge and 4 to 6 months in the freezer), minced meat (1-2 days in the fridge and 4-4 months in the freezer), UHT milk (3-4 days in the fridge and should not be frozen), open fresh milk (1-2 days in the fridge and less than three months in the freezer), eggs (less than three weeks in the fridge and cannot be frozen) and separate yolk or egg white (2 to 4 days in the fridge, less than 12 months in the freezer).
Regarding processed foods, the OCU experts say that an open jar of mayonnaise (lasts less than a month in the fridge, cannot be frozen), bread (does not keep in the fridge and lasts from 3 to 6 months) in the freezer), butter (3 to 4 weeks in the fridge and 6 to 8 months in the freezer), fresh sausages (1 to 2 days in the fridge, and 1 to 2 months in the freezer), cold cuts and sausages (3 to 6 days in the fridge, 1 to 3 months in the freezer), soups (2 to 4 days in the fridge, and 2 to 3 months in the freezer), ready meals (2 to 4 days in the fridge and 3 to 4 months in the freezer), sauces and meat broths (2 to 3 days in the fridge and 2 to 3 months in the freezer)
How are food scraps preserved?
The remains of cooked food should be put in the fridge as soon as they cool down (or better, as soon as they stop burning), placing them in clean containers and without waiting for them to reach room temperature. «Do not let them cool outside the refrigerator, much less in the summer, as they can spoil due to the heat. Ideally, they should not stay out of the fridge for more than two hours, “they explain. In the event that they are not going to be consumed immediately, it is advisable to freeze them noting the date on which they were placed in the freezer.
Another tip is that defrosting a food should never be done at room temperature, but in the least cold, least cold area of the fridge. If a faster formula is desired, it will be done in the microwave or cooked directly.
A fresh product that has already been defrosted for cooking can be re-frozen again, but only if it has been cooked before, according to the OCU. In this sense, they recommend that the food be heated well until it reaches, at least, a temperature of 80-90ºC so that the bacteria that may have grown are destroyed.
Food or products that have been opened must be wrapped, covered with plastic or closed with specific clamps. In addition, the OCU experts recommend marking them with a label indicating the opening date. In the event that a can has been opened and there are remains, it is advisable to change the contents to a glass container.
Tips for preserving food in summer
– Take extreme care of your personal hygiene and that of the work area before handling food.
– After cooking, refrigerate the food as soon as it stops burning. If you are going to take to consume them, it is better that you choose to freeze them.
– If you go out to the field or the beach, take the food in very clean and hermetically closed containers. Keep the fridge or basket with food fresh.
– Store leftovers in the refrigerator before the table is prolonged. If you have opened a can and there are remains, change them to a plastic or glass container.
– Leave food covered and well protected. You will avoid visits from insects.
– Avoid cross contamination: tables, plates or cutlery that you have used in raw foods, do not use them again with cooked ones without having washed them well with soap.
– Reheat only the portion you are going to consume.
– When buying, leave the food that needs refrigeration for last. If you’re going to be home late, put them in an isothermal bag so you can keep them without breaking the “cold chain.” Once at home, store frozen food first.
– Check the food in the fridge from time to time and put by hand what is close to the expiration date or preferred consumption.
– Place the meats, fish and dishes prepared in the coldest area in the refrigerator, and the vegetables and fruits in the warmer one.
– Pay attention to temperatures to preserve food: In the freezer, below -18 ºC. In the fridge, meat and fish should be kept between 1 and 4 ºC and the rest between 5 and 8 ºC.