Bacteria In The House
We all use refrigerators and freezers to prevent food spoilage. But what happens if the refrigerator isn't clean?
Refrigeration slows, but doesn't stop, microbial growth (that's why food can go bad in refrigerators). Since micro-organisms are everywhere (in the soil, air, water... and even our foods), the fridge isn't necessarily a safe haven. After all, the things needed for bacterial growth are present: a food source (in this case, actual food), moisture, and appropriate temperature.
Micro-organisms that can grow at cold temperatures are called psychrophiles, and these microbes can survive and even thrive at temperatures below 32 degrees F.
So if those spills aren't cleaned right away... if that slop from the leaky packaged meat just sits there... micro-organisms can grow rapidly.
Long story short, if the fridge isn't clean, it will probably become a breeding ground for bacteria.
Bacteria And The Aching Belly
Food that is improperly processed or packed can be contaminated with these psychotrophic bacteria, and of course, it may be present in dirty refrigerators.
When we eat foods contaminated with such bacteria, they will grow in our bodies.
Some bacteria may not be harmful themselves, but release toxins into the food which causes food poisoning.
Bacteria such as some Coliforms and Listeria are all known to survive low temperatures and become harmful once they are inside the human body. Listeria is even known to cause serious problems in pregnant women.
- Wipe up spills in the fridge right away, and use hot, soapy water... rinse thoroughly.
- Pitch the expired foods right away... A rule of thumb for leftovers stored in the fridge is keep it for no more than 4 days.
- Check the temperature of your fridge. Refrigerators should be set to maintain a temperature of 40 degrees F or lower. While bacteria can grow at this and lower temperatures, many more bacteria thrive at temperatures above 40 degrees F.