Schedule your free consultation today.

  • This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.
  • This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.

All fields are required



(833) 330-3663

Spring Cleaning Food Safety

Posted in Our Blog on March 2, 2024

Springtime. My second favorite season next to Fall. I’m a big fan of shorts, flip-flops, and baggy sweaters. I’m also a big fan of grilling outside while the breeze is nice and calm. Did that paint a nice picture for you? It did me. Now let’s paint another picture; one not so pleasing but necessary all the same: spring cleaning. Yes, I said it. That little statement (for most of you) sent chills down your spine and caused you to already begin conjuring excuses to get out of it. Trust me, I did too.

Spring cleaning is that time of the year where we crawl out of our nests, stretch, and realize we neglected our house all winter. Sure, we clean, but how much of it is just to get by? If I have to be honest, that is me. This year, as commanded by the boss (my loving wife reading over my shoulder) we are doing a DEEP CLEAN as she put it. No excuses, no running out to hang with the guys, no sleeping in. Let’s get this party started.

The USDA has given us a starting point to get the spring cleaning in gear. And while this list is in no way all-conclusive, it is a good starting point. If you’re like me and need a checklist, here is a pretty extensive one. Make sure you check them off as you finish them and not make the same mistake I did.

Most have a ritual they live by concerning cleaning the house. I am in no way asking you to stray from that course. Our time here today is to think about a few things we may not have thought about before and put them into our regular cleaning rituals. Things that can help us stay safe a little bit better. If you already do theses, pat yourself on the back and consider yourself a master cleaner. You deserve it.

The Fridge

Most people start here and this is not a bad idea. At least in my kitchen, everything revolves around the refrigerator and radiates out from there. Be it leftovers or what to cook for the week, everything starts there. So it only makes sense this is the first place we give a hard look at when zeroing in on what to clean. Here are a few things to keep in mind:

Clean spills as they happen

While this seems easy enough, it is worth mentioning. Using soap and warm water will eliminate any bacteria that may be left over from the spill. Make sure you do not use harsh chemicals because this could contaminate your food.

Storing leftovers

Throwing out leftovers that have been hanging around in the back of the refrigerator keep bacteria from spreading. Most foods can stay sealed in their own container for up to four days safely. Raw food only a couple days.

Cleaning the exterior

Taking the time to get into the cracks and crevasses is important for food safety. My refrigerator is stainless steel so you can imagine the blemishes and dirt spots. Little fingerprints don’t help either.

Temperature is important

Keeping your refrigerator at the correct temperature ensures your food stays fresher longer. Check your owner’s manual for the recommended settings. Remember: when cleaning you are letting out cold air so work fast and take breaks to let the air inside cool back down.

The Pantry

While not normally a place that gets dirty, the pantry is still one area that needs a little care. Being a stay-at-home-dad I have a system to not only know what is in the pantry but I check it regularly for spills.

Cans and jars

My mother used to play a game with my sister and I when we were younger called guess what is in the can. I can’t make this stuff up folks. Now that I know better, if the cans in your pantry are dented, rusted, or unlabeled; it is best to throw them away since the product could be spoiled.

Throw away spoiled food

This shouldn’t be something I have to say if I hadn’t seen it with my own eyes years ago. Do not taste food to make check if it is spoiled or not. My roommate in college was rummaging through the refrigerator one day and asked me if the food in the container he was holding was bad. I told him I didn’t know so it was better to throw it out. To my amazement, he opened the container and tasted the food in it. And after determining it was bad, well, lets just say he didn’t feel well for a few days. True story.

Check dates

There is a lot of debate on the two terms: USE by and BEST if used by. Use by means that the date listed is the last date that something should be consumed. If you are past that date it is best to throw whatever it is away. Best if used by means that after the date, it is still safe to eat but the quality may not be what you are looking for.

While this list is by no means comprehensive, there needs to be a starting point. Sometimes, when I am not in the mood to clean, I will start off by tackling something smaller and to get the ball rolling. If this is you I can sympathize. If you are a “hit the ground running” kind of cleaner (like my wife) you should know all of these tricks and tips and that is good.

While cleaning may not seem like a place where food safety lives, I would ask you to think about it this way: it all starts here. We clean our food before we eat it. We clean our kitchens before and after as well. Cleaning the kitchen and the rest of the house too, is at the beginning of food safety. And even though there are times when I balk at the thought of spring cleaning, I know at the end of the it is a good thing; not only for the house but for the food we prepare and eat.

By: Dwight Spencer