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16/05/18: How should you clean your refrigerator when you have purchased recalled food products?

CaptureFor years, Food Poisoning Bulletin has been informing you about foods that have been recalled for dangerous bacteria and other pathogens. In many of those recall articles, we tell you to clean your refrigerator after you have discarded the potentially contaminated food. But how exactly should that refrigerator be cleaned? The CDC has answers.

How to Clean Your Refrigerator

Two recent outbreaks have been linked to foods that should be discarded. The deadly E. coli O157:H7 HUS outbreak that has sickened 149 people is linked to romaine lettuce. And the Salmonella Braenderup outbreak that has sickened 35 is linked to recalled eggs.

To start to clean your refrigerator, remove all of the food. Throw out the recalled foods, and any foods that are stored with it or have touched it. Put the recalled products in a sealed bag in the garbage can. If you put the recalled food in a reusable container, wash it with soapy water.

Then take out the shelving, drawers, and other removable parts. Wash them with warm, soapy water and dry with a clean towel. Set them aside.

Then wipe down the inside of the fridge with warm soapy water, then wipe with clean water to remove the soap. Dry with a clean towel. Make sure you wipe inside the doors and drawers that you can’t remove.

If the food was recalled for potential contamination for a pathogenic bacteria such as Listeria monocytogenes, Salmonella, Brucella, or E. coli, you should take an additional step: use a solution of 1 tablespoon liquid chlorine bleach to 1 gallon of water. Wipe down the fridge, shelving, and drawers, then wipe with clean water and dry.

Then reassemble the fridge. It’s important that you then wipe food and drink containers with warm, soapy water before you return them to the refrigerator. If the recall was for Listeria monocytogenes, a bacteria that can grow at refrigerator temperatures, wipe down those containers with the bleach solution as well. Then wipe with clean water.

Then put everything back into the fridge. And remember to wash your hands with soap and water after you have finished cleaning.

If the recall was for potential Listeria monocytogenes contamination, clean your freezer using these steps. That bacteria is not killed by freezing.

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