Cami Wells: Keeping Your Food Safe: Fridge Safety Tips

Did you know that at room temperature, bacteria that cause foodborne illness can double in size every 20 minutes?

Refrigerating foods to the proper temperature is one of the best ways to slow the growth of these bacteria. Your kitchen refrigerator is one of your most powerful tools for protecting you and your family from foodborne illness.

Cami Wells

To make sure your refrigerator is running efficiently, check to see if its temperature is at or below 40 degrees F. Given that few refrigerator controls display actual temperatures, it’s best to use a cost-effective free-standing thermometer. to monitor the temperature and adjust the refrigerator setting as needed. Buy one for the fridge, one for the freezer and check them often.

In addition to keeping the temperature in your refrigerator at 40 degrees F, here are additional precautions you can take to keep your refrigerated foods as safe as possible:

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Cool food quickly. Refrigerate or freeze meat, poultry, eggs, seafood and other perishables within two hours of cooking or purchase. Cool within one hour if outside temperature is above 90 degrees F.

Avoid overpacking. Chilled foods must have enough space for cold air to circulate around them to maintain proper cooling.

Clean up spills immediately. In addition to reducing the growth of Listeria bacteria (which can grow in refrigerated temperatures), cleaning spills—especially drips from defrosting meat—will prevent cross-contamination, where bacteria from one food is spread to another.

Keep it covered. Store chilled foods in covered containers or sealed storage bags. Leftovers should be used within three to four days.

Check food dates. Throw out expired food. If you’re not sure or the food looks questionable, the general rule is, “When in doubt, throw it out.”


Pork Rice Bowls


1/4 cup low-sodium soy sauce

1/2 teaspoon ginger powder

1/2 teaspoon garlic powder

1/2 cup low-fat sour cream

1-2 teaspoons of Sriracha sauce

1 jalapeño pepper (optional), chopped

1 cup pickled vegetables or kimchi (optional)

Wash hands with soap and water. Clean the cucumber, carrots, and pepper by scrubbing them with a clean vegetable brush under running water; cook as directed. Clean the cilantro by gently scrubbing it under cold running water; cook as directed.

In a large skillet, brown ground pork until internal temperature reaches 160 degrees F when measured with a food thermometer. Drain off the fat.

In a small bowl, mix soy sauce, cornstarch, ginger powder, garlic powder, and sugar. Add to the cooked meat and mix well. Cook 1 minute or until meat is coated and sauce is thickened.

Divide the rice into 6 bowls. Top with meat, cucumber, carrot, jalapeño and cilantro. Add pickled vegetables, such as pickled daikon radish, carrots, or kimchi, if desired. Sprinkle with spicy sour cream and enjoy!

Store leftovers in a sealed container in the refrigerator for up to four days.

Nutritional information per serving: Calories 330, total fat 10g, saturated fat 2.5g, cholesterol 60mg, total carbohydrates 33g, fiber 3g, total sugars 4g, includes 1g added sugars, protein 29g, vitamin d 0%, calcium 6%, iron 10%, potassium 10%.

Cami Wells is a Nebraska Extension Educator in Hall County. Contact Cami by phone at 308-385-5088, by email at cwel[email protected] or visit the Hall County website at

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