How to Prevent Food Poisoning? How to Store Foods Correctly in a Refrigerator?

how to prevent food poisning

Food poisoning is a significant public health issue in India, affecting millions of people annually. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), foodborne diseases cause an estimated 100 million illnesses and 120,000 deaths in India each year. The National Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) reports that food poisoning accounts for about 7% of all reported illnesses in the country.

In India, the problem is compounded by factors such as inadequate sanitation, lack of access to clean water, and poor food handling practices. The Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI) estimates that a large portion of these cases are due to contaminated food and water, with bacterial pathogens being the most common cause.

Preventing food poisoning in India requires a multi-faceted approach, including improved food safety regulations, better hygiene practices, and proper food storage. Refrigeration plays a crucial role in food safety, especially given India's hot and humid climate. However, it's worth noting that not all households in India have access to refrigeration, making proper food storage even more challenging in some areas.

In this blog post, we'll discuss the importance of proper food storage, with a focus on refrigeration where available, and provide practical tips to help prevent foodborne illnesses in the Indian context. We'll also touch on alternative storage methods for those without access to refrigeration.

Why Proper Refrigerator Storage Matters

Fridge play a crucial role in food safety by maintaining temperatures that slow the growth of harmful bacteria, viruses, and molds. Most foodborne pathogens thrive in temperatures between 40°F (4°C) and 140°F (60°C), known as the "Danger Zone." When perishable foods are stored at these temperatures, bacteria can multiply rapidly, increasing the risk of food poisoning.

By keeping your refrigerator at the recommended temperature of 40°F (4°C) or below, you can significantly reduce the growth of harmful microorganisms and extend the shelf life of perishable foods. However, proper refrigerator storage goes beyond temperature control; it also involves proper food handling, organization, and cleanliness.

Tips for Safe Refrigerator Storage

1. Keep Your Refrigerator at the Proper Temperature

The first and most important step in safe refrigerator storage is to ensure that your refrigerator is set to the correct temperature. The ideal temperature for a refrigerator is 40°F (4°C) or below and it is also for high-end frost-free refrigerators, Frost-free refrigerators, direct cool refrigerators, side by side refrigerator and bottom mount refrigerator. You can fill water in the glass and put that glass on the toughened shelf and after 2 hr check the temperature of the water in the glass from a thermometer. Or use an appliance thermometer to monitor the temperature regularly, as the dial settings on refrigerators may not always be accurate.

2. Don't Overload Your Refrigerator

Overloading your refrigerator can obstruct air circulation, making it difficult to maintain a consistent temperature throughout the appliance. Leave enough space between items to allow air to circulate freely.

3. Organize Your Refrigerator

Proper organization is essential for preventing cross-contamination, which occurs when harmful bacteria from raw foods are transferred to ready-to-eat foods. 

Follow this guide for organizing your refrigerator:

  1. Store raw meat, poultry, and seafood on the bottom shelf or in the meat drawer to prevent their juices from dripping onto other foods.
  2. Keep ready-to-eat foods, such as cooked meals, fruits, and vegetables, on the upper shelves, away from raw meats.
  3. Store eggs in their original carton on a middle shelf, not in the door, where temperatures fluctuate more.
  4. Keep dairy products, such as milk, cheese, and yogurt, on the upper shelves, away from raw meats.
  5. Don’t overstuff your fridge, keep rotating your food so that new food gets space and air circulation remains proper inside the fridge.

4. Use Proper Food Storage Containers

Proper food storage containers are crucial for preventing cross-contamination and maintaining food quality. Use airtight containers or resealable plastic bags to store leftovers and other perishable foods. This will prevent odor transfer and moisture loss, which can lead to spoilage.

5. Follow "Use-By" and "Best-By" Dates

Pay attention to the "use-by" and "best-by" dates on food packages. While "best-by" dates indicate peak quality, "use-by" dates are safety-related and should be strictly followed. Discard any perishable foods that have passed their "use-by" date, even if they appear or smell normal.

6. Refrigerate Leftovers Promptly

Leftovers should be refrigerated within two hours of cooking or serving. Divide larger portions into smaller, shallow containers to promote faster cooling. This prevents the growth of bacteria that can occur when food remains in the "Danger Zone" for too long.

7. Clean Your Refrigerator Regularly

A clean refrigerator is essential for preventing cross-contamination and keeping food fresh. Wipe up spills immediately, and clean the interior surfaces of your refrigerator regularly with a mild soap and water solution. Discard any expired or spoiled foods, and check for any signs of mold or spoilage. You must clean it every month and deep cleaning must be done after 3-4 months. It prevents grems and make make your fridge hygienic to store food.

8. Defrosting frozen foods properly is key to avoid letting harmful bacteria multiply

The refrigerator is the best place - the consistent cold temp below 40°F (4°C) keeps things safe while thawing slowly. Using cold water to defrost works too, but only if you'll be cooking the food immediately after. Keep it sealed in a waterproof bag and swap out the cold water frequently. Microwaving on the defrost setting is another fast option, but you must cook the partially-thawed food right away with no delays. Never let frozen items thaw at room temp or in hot water - that's an open invitation for bacteria. For some items like frozen burgers, chicken breasts or fish fillets, you can skip thawing altogether and cook from frozen, plan on a longer cooking time of about 50% more. Follow these easy tips to properly defrost meats, seafood and other frozen goods without the risk of foodborne illness. 

9. Avoid Cross-Contamination

Cross-contamination occurs when harmful bacteria from raw foods are transferred to ready-to-eat foods or clean surfaces. To prevent cross-contamination, use separate cutting boards and utensils for raw meats and produce, and always wash your hands thoroughly with soap and water before handling food. Don’t put open food without a lid in the fridge.

Chopped onions are worst to put open inside the fridge.

10. Follow Proper Refrigerator Storage Times

Different types of foods have different recommended refrigerator storage times. Here are some general guidelines:

  • Raw ground meats and poultry: 1-2 days
  • Fresh meat (beef, pork, lamb): 3-5 days
  • Fresh fish and seafood: 1-2 days
  • Cooked leftovers: 3-4 days
  • Eggs (in the shell): 3-5 weeks
  • Fresh fruits and vegetables: 3-7 days

Remember, these are general guidelines, and the actual storage time may vary depending on the specific food item and its freshness.

By following these tips for safe fridge storage, you can significantly reduce the risk of foodborne illnesses and ensure that your food remains fresh and safe to consume.


Preventing food poisoning starts with proper food handling and storage practices, particularly in the fridge. By maintaining the correct temperature, organising your refrigerator, using proper storage containers, following "use-by" and "best-by" dates, and practising good hygiene, you can minimize the growth of harmful bacteria and reduce the risk of foodborne illnesses. Remember, food safety is a shared responsibility, and taking proactive measures can help protect your family's health and well-being.