November 15 is National Clean Out Your Refrigerator Day, and the Internet is filling up with suggestions on getting the kitchen appliance spic-and-span in time for Thanksgiving dinner.
Letting certain foods fester in the fridge can result in something worthy of a middle school science project, but that is no reason to hesitate in cleaning up the mess.
Health officials note that keeping a clean and tidy refrigerator is one way to help prevent certain bacterial infections, including listeriosis.
Cross-contamination of foods should be avoided, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention wrote on their Web site. Uncooked meats should be kept separate from produce, cooked foods, and ready-to-eat foods.
It's also important to make sure food is being stored at the right temperature.
Bacteria multiply rapidly between 40 °F and 140 °F, the U.S. Department of Agriculture said on its Web site. To keep food out of this 'Danger Zone,' keep cold food cold and hot food hot.
For consumers aiming for a healthier diet, Shape magazine suggests throwing out creamy salad dressings, sodas and juices -- among other items - and replacing them with healthier substitutes.
Suggestions on the Web site MarthaStewart.com include disposing of old food on a weekly basis and using a toothbrush to clean crannies in the fridge.