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Foods You Should Always Keep Refrigerated

By Sara Butler

Refrigerating certain foods helps to keep them safe for consumption and deters the growth of harmful pathogens that can make you sick. But how do you know what foods belong in the refrigerator for sure? Here are some guidelines you can use to help you understand what should always go in the refrigerator as well as a few helpful tips to help you organize your refrigerator for food safety.

TCS Foods

The foods that belong in the refrigerator are referred to as time/temperature control for safety foods (TCS). These are foods that are more likely to grow things in them that can make you sick. If you keep these foods at room temperature, then the moisture in them will encourage bacterial growth -- to the point where they're dangerous to eat. They should be refrigerated at 41 degrees Fahrenheit or below to ensure they stay safe.

TCS foods include:

  • Garlic in oil
  • Milk
  • Milk products such as yogurt and cheese
  • Raw sprouts
  • Leafy greens
  • Cut tomatoes
  • Cut melons
  • Meat, fish, shellfish, and poultry
  • Certain cooked foods such as potatoes, rice, and vegetables

If you use these ingredients in a recipe, make sure to keep them cold until you're ready to use them. And any food that contains any of these ingredients must be refrigerated too, such as a pasta salad with a mayonnaise-based dressing.

If you leave any of these foods out of the refrigerator for four hours or more, then err on the side of safety and throw it away. You are putting yourself at risk for food poisoning otherwise.

What About Butter?

You've probably seen people who keep their butter out on the counter all the time. Butter is an oddity because it's pasteurized and processed in such a way that makes it nearly impenetrable to microbial growth. If you have salted butter, it's even more like Fort Knox against pathogens and safe to eat if left out.

Storing Tips

It might be a good idea to organize your refrigerator a bit for food safety. If you store the foods with lower cooking temperatures, such as vegetables, on the top and the higher cooking temperatures at the bottom, then you'll lower your chances of contamination. Put vegetables at the top, whole seafood and meats on the next shelf down, then mechanically tenderized meats, then casseroles, poultry, and stuffed pasta on the bottom.

Stay healthy by making sure you are storing and keeping food the right way!

To learn more about your health, wellness, and fitness, see your local chiropractor at The Joint Chiropractic in Round Rock, Tex.

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