“Under the Sink and Other Scary Places,” Ensign, Aug. 1984, 68–69
How safe is your food? Would your kitchen pass the food-storage test? First, check cabinets underneath the kitchen sink, or any cabinets through which water pipes, drain pipes, or heating pipes pass. Any food stored there? Sacks of onions or potatoes, or perhaps some liquids or canned goods?
Foods should never be stored in these cabinets, because they will attract insects and possibly rodents through openings that are almost impossible to seal adequately. Also, possible leakage from the pipes can damage the food products, causing cans to become overheated or rusty.
Next, look at storage areas near heat sources, such as the stove. Foods should not be kept in cabinets above the stove. Even dry mixes, which may be stored at room temperature, will not keep well in the heat generated by the stove.
What about other areas where foods are being stored at room temperature? Check canned foods by picking up each can on the shelf. Does it stick slightly? This could be a sign of leakage. Weak seams in the cans may allow gases to build up and force fluid out. This could be a dangerous situation, as poisons can be forming.
Leaking, bulging, or otherwise unusual cans should be thrown out. Resist any temptation to taste food that doesn’t seem right. In some cases, even the food’s taste is not an indicator of safety, and you don’t have to swallow the food to be poisoned by the toxins produced by certain types of bacteria.
Now for the toughest part of your inspection—the refrigerator. Many foods will deteriorate rapidly even in the refrigerator. Broths, gravies, stuffings, chicken salad, potato salad, poultry, fish, and liver are some of the foods that should be used within one or two days of being prepared.
Look inside the covered dishes, sniff beverages, open bags and bins. Throw out questionable items as well as products you really don’t plan to use. Good storage procedures in the refrigerator and in the pantry will prevent food loss and keep your food safe to eat. Joan Hoffman Martin, Norfolk, Virginia