Keep food safe by implementing the “FIFO” system

FIFO is a great system to help while you go through the cupboards, refrigerator and freezer to dispose of expired foods, and clean your shelves.

March is National Nutrition Month making this is a good time to inventory foods you have on-hand. Keep food safety in mind while you go through the cupboards, refrigerator and freezer to dispose of expired foods and clean your shelves. Though most of our shelf food will remain safe past their “best used by” dates, you may still want to cycle out any foods that you are not eating, or have been there a while and have lost their quality. The same is true for your freezer. Foods kept frozen will remain safe, but can lose their quality over time. A great system to help with this is “FIFO.”

FIFO is “first in first out” and simply means you need to label your food with the dates you store them, and put the older foods in front or on top so that you use them first. This system allows you to find your food quicker and use them more efficiently. To ensure using food prior to expiration focus your choices on the FIFO principle by consuming the earliest purchased food items and whose shelf life is the shortest, first.

In the refrigerator, you need to check for any forgotten leftovers. To ensure leftover safety follow these guidelines:

  • Temperatures between 40 degrees Fahrenheit and 140 degrees Fahrenheit allow bacteria to grow rapidly. Refrigerate cooked leftovers promptly – within two hours; or, one hour when the temperatures are over 90 degrees Fahrenheit. Use an appliance thermometer to ensure that your refrigerator is always 40 degrees Fahrenheit or below.
  • Divide leftovers into smaller portions and store in shallow containers in the refrigerator.

FIFO is especially helpful when there are multiple items of the same product. Additionally, adhering to specific storage times of common food items can further aid in maintaining freshness and quality.

Michigan State University Extension recommends these practices and to remember the bottom line for all safe food handling and storage practices is that when product safety is in doubt, err on the side of caution and throw the food away, “when in doubt, throw it out” and protect you and your family from foodborne illness.

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