How To Safely Store Food During Heatwave

We need to rethink our food preservation and handling practices in light of current weather changes, especially heatwaves. As temperatures soar, the rate at which food spoils increases, making it essential to adopt effective storage practices. Heatwaves, characterized by prolonged periods of excessively hot weather, put added stress on food storage systems. High temperatures can cause fruits and vegetables to ripen and rot faster, and can also affect the quality of meat, dairy, and other perishables. In such conditions, maintaining food safety is a significant concern. Proper storage not only extends the shelf life of food but also helps in minimizing the risk of consuming spoiled or contaminated items. Here are some practical tips on how to store food safely during heatwave, ensuring you and your family can enjoy nutritious meals without the worry of foodborne illnesses. 

Tips to Store Food Items Properly for Longer Shelf Life 

Avoid Direct Sunlight 

Direct sunlight can cause temperatures to rise quickly, leading to faster spoilage of food items. To prevent this, keep your groceries out of the sun. Store them in a cool, dark place such as a pantry or basement. The constant temperature and lack of air in these places make them ideal for storing food. Not only does avoiding direct sunlight help keep food fresher for longer, but it also keeps nutrients intact.  

Refrigerate Properly 

Using your fridge wisely is one of the most effective methods to protect food from the impacts of a heatwave. To keep perishable goods at the ideal temperature for preservation, set your refrigerator to 4°C or lower. Maintaining consistent chilling requires enough air circulation, so make sure the refrigerator isn't too crowded. There will be uneven cooling and faster deterioration if cold air cannot circulate adequately due to overloaded shelves. To ensure that the cold air can circulate smoothly, make sure to leave sufficient space between objects. 

Store Separately 

Certain fruits and vegetables release ethylene gas, a natural plant hormone that can speed up the ripening process of nearby produce. For example, apples and bananas emit a significant amount of ethylene gas, which can cause other fruits and vegetables to spoil faster if stored together. To prevent early spoilage, store ethylene-producing items separately from those sensitive to the gas. This simple practice can significantly extend the shelf life of your fresh produce.  

Use Perishables First 

Adopting a "first in, first out" approach is particularly important during hot weather. Use perishable foods first to minimize wastage. This means prioritizing the consumption of items that are likely to spoil sooner, such as dairy products, meat, and fresh vegetables. By doing so, you ensure that these items are used while still fresh, reducing the risk of spoilage and foodborne illnesses. 

Store in the Right Place 

Organizing your refrigerator and pantry efficiently can make a big difference in food preservation. Store fruits and vegetables at room temperature initially but move them to the refrigerator if the temperature rises too high. Raw meat, poultry, and fish should always be stored on the lower shelf of the fridge. This placement prevents their juices from dripping onto other foods, which can cause cross-contamination and potential foodborne illnesses. Keeping these items on the lower shelves also helps maintain the overall cleanliness and safety of your refrigerator.