Are You Storing Food Safely?

Food safety is essential to prevent foodborne illnesses and keep our meals fresh and delicious. But when it comes down to it, it’s often easy to forget about properly storing food, especially amid busy lives.

And yet, it’s still vitally important. Improper food handling and storage can increase the risk of bacterial contamination and even life-threatening illnesses like salmonella or severe food poisoning.

So let’s revisit the basics of safe food storage. Read on as we discuss the importance of proper food storage techniques, what to watch for, and why skipping this important step could put your family at risk.

Introducing the Importance of Food Storage Safety

Proper food storage is crucial for maintaining your food’s freshness, flavor, and nutritional value. But aside from taste and nutrition, safe food storage also safeguards you and your family from potentially life-threatening diseases. 

Proper food handling and storage help prevent the growth of different types of bacteria and even dangerous parasites, some of which can lead to foodborne illnesses and even long-term health problems.

This is why the United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA) recommends following specific guidelines to ensure safe food storage, which we’ll review in this article. These guidelines include properly cooking and storing temperatures, securely organizing your pantry, and appropriately using leftover food.

Know Your Fridge – What Temperatures Should You Keep It at and Why

Humans have devised ways to keep their food cool and safe since immemorial. From deep caves to ingenious food storage gadgets that you would mistake for wells, humankind has realized, very early in its development, that for food to be stored safely and still be edible, you must keep it at specific temperatures.

Enter the modern refrigerator! 

It is common knowledge that your fridge plays a vital role in keeping your perishable food items fresh and safe for consumption. But we often struggle with the basic dilemma – which temperature to set it at? Sometimes it feels too cold, and other times it feels not warm enough.

When it comes to food cooling temperature control, the FDA advises setting your refrigerator temperatures at or below 40°F (or 4°C) to slow down the growth of bacteria. Temperatures above this range can increase the risk of foodborne illnesses, and the longevity of a food item will also be gradually reduced if you set it at higher temperatures. But of course, technology can only go so far. It is important to occasionally check your fridge’s temperature to ensure it remains within the safe zone and feels cool enough.

Pantry Prep – Organize Your Pantry for Temperature Control and Pest Prevention

You may think little of it, but your pantry is another area where a proper organization is essential for food safety! Keeping your pantry clean, cool, and dry prevents the dangerous growth of mold, pests, and bacteria.

The Better Health Channel suggests storing dry food items such as cereals, grains, and pasta in airtight containers to protect them from pests while maintaining quality. It’s also wise to rotate your pantry items by placing newer products at the back and using older ones first. This will help you avoid ending up half of your items getting past their expiration date by the time you reach them.

Tips for Organizing the Freezer – How to Arrange Different Types of Food Safely

The freezer is another great tool for preserving foods for longer periods. To ensure proper storage in your freezer, keeping it at or below 0°F (-18°C) is important. This temperature prevents bacteria growth and maintains frozen food quality for months to even years.

But how to organize your freezer? Here’s a good rule of thumb. Keep raw meats and seafood separate from other foodstuffs, preferably in leak-proof containers, to prevent cross-contamination. 

Add vegetables to another shelf or drawer, and keeping ice cream and ice cubes separate from the other foods is optimal. Finally, labeling and dating your freezer packages will help you keep track of their freshness, protect your health, and avoid waste.

Use Up Those Leftovers – Get Creative With Your Leftover Ingredients

Hold up! Are you going to throw all those tasty leftovers? Don’t, because there is a better way. Leftovers can be great ingredients for preparing new and delicious meals. 

So instead of letting your leftovers go to waste, get creative! For example, you could use those extra veggies in a spicy stir-fry dish or transform those bits of leftover meat into tasty sandwiches. 

When it comes to leftovers, the sky’s the limit. The internet is your friend – you can find thousands of spare recipe ideas online that can help you save money, save food, and transform your leftovers into exciting new dishes. 

Storing Leftovers Properly – Safety Tips for Preserving and Reheating Food

But just how long can you keep leftovers around? And if you should store them, what is the right way to do so? Well, it’s simpler than you may think.

The Food Standards Agency of Scotland has some good tips: you’re supposed to refrigerate cooked leftovers within two hours of cooking or one hour if the room temperature exceeds 90°F (32°C). Then, you can divide large portions into smaller containers to cool them quickly and ensure a more even temperature distribution. Finally, when reheating leftovers, ensure they reach an internal temperature of 165°F (74°C) to kill any bacteria that may have grown – if it’s hot to the touch, you’re good.


Handling and storing food safely is an integral part of keeping yourself healthy and maintaining the food’s flavor, safety, and overall quality. By following the guidelines and tips we shared above, you can always enjoy healthy, safe, and super tasty meals and drinks – at all times. Bon appetit!