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Fridge Salad Draw pictureSalad drawers in fridges can contain more than 750 times the level of bacteria considered safe.

Food safety, and health and well-being of members of the household, can be put at risk through neglect of some basic cleanliness and hygiene activities.

Potentially killer bugs such as E.coli, salmonella and listeria are among those found by researchers.

Regular cleaning of fridges is ignored by many people, creating conditions for bugs to breed and diseases to spread, compromising food safety.

Check these tips from Acorn, and make sure your fridge won’t make you unwell.

Dangerous levels of bacteria found by researchers

Tests on samples taken from 30 frost-free home appliances found an average of 7,850 bacteria ‘colony forming units’ per square centimeter (cfu/cm2)

The standard EC recommendation for ‘clean’ food preparation and storage surfaces is just 0-10 cfu/cm2. (Research commissioned by Microban Europe).

The low temperatures of fridges for food storage will only inhibit the growth of bacteria in tandem with regular cleaning.

The invisible danger in fridges

Modern ‘frost-free’ fridges can appear to be clean as they do not build up the layer of frost that is a good indication that cleaning is required. A periodic defrost of older style fridges was important to maintain performance.

However, all fridges need periodic cleaning, to remove spills of liquids such as milk or meat juices, to remove organic matter such as leaves and stalks from fruit and vegetables, and crumbs from cakes and biscuits, and so on.

Anecdotal feedback suggests attitudes to fridge cleanliness vary. Mr McDonnell of Microban said: ‘Some fridge owners regularly take all the food out of their fridge, wipe down the interior, and clean the salad drawers separately’

‘However, some are effectively never cleaned, and that is probably where the problems occur.’

When bacteria get a foothold and no cleaning is taking place they will tend to multiply rapidly over a period of time.

Love your fridge

Good practice for keeping your fridge clean and your food safe can be summarised as:

  1. Wipe up liquid spills in your fridge when they occur.
  2. Remove out-of-date food regularly (at least once a week)
  3. Tip out and clear up organic debris before refilling your salad drawer, and link this with your shopping frequency (ie. weekly or fortnightly)
  4. Every 3 months (monthly is better) empty the fridge right out and clean the lining, shelves, drawers etc. with hot soapy water, and then wipe/rinse with clean water to remove traces of soap.

Read more about the fridge cleanliness research on the Daily Mail website.

If you run a catering business and want advice or training about commercial food safety standards and hygiene practices contact Acorn Health and Safety here.