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Food Waste Avoidance 4 - Food Storage

The Pantry

Tips to ensure maximum storage life at room temperature:
  • store foods in cool cupboards - away from heat sources such as refrigerators or ovens
  • store foods in dark cupboards - especially if they have transparent packaging
  • store food in moisture and air proof containers where possible
  • use up older packets and cans before more recently purchased ones

The Fridge

Tips to ensure maximum storage life of food in your fridge:
  • Keep at < 5°C
  • Refrigeration can substantially reduce the rate at which food will deteriorate, as low temperatures slow down the growth of microorganisms and the rate of chemical (including enzymic) changes in food
  • Avoid crowding stored products
  • Store raw foods below cooked foods
  • Keep meat and poultry in its package until just before using
  • Store food in suitable, covered containers
  • Check and observe the ‘Use by’ dates
  • Apply the 2 hour max rule – that is, cooked foods should be contained and stored in the fridge (or freezer) within 2 hours after cooking

The Freezer

Tips to ensure maximum storage life of food in your freezer:
  • Keep at < -15°C
  • Freezing food and storing it at a low temperature, around -18 °C, significantly extends its storage life, as growth of microbes is stopped and the chemical and enzymic changes, which cause loss of quality, are slowed
  • Cover properly to avoid drying of the surface (known as ”freezer burn”) and changes to the appearance and texture
  • Frost inside a package is a result of dehydration and can be minimised by avoiding air gaps inside the package
  • Bought food: Follow the storage information on the packaging and check the date stamp (‘Use by’ or ‘Best before’)
  • Cooked food: When freezing your own food, mark each container clearly and permanently with a date so that you can achieve an orderly turnover of stored frozen food.
  • Apply the 2 hour max rule – that is, cooked foods should be contained and stored in the fridge (or freezer) within 2 hours after cooking
  • Thawed food should not be refrozen


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