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Dirty fridges cause food poisoning

Irish scientists have warned the public to be more careful about how they store food in household fridges to avoid the risk of a serious form of food poisoning. They also say that fridges should be cleaned and disinfected regularly and old food emptied out to help prevent the spread of bacteria that causes the poisoning.

A team from the Moyne Institute of Preventive Medicine at TCD examined 157 samples from surfaces in Irish household fridges and found that 64.3% of them had the potential to cause staphylococcal food poisoning.

It is believed that many of the Staphylococcus bugs in fridges could be of animal origin. And many of the food in fridges could have the bug on them, such as cheeses, raw meats, and cold cooked meats. Staphylococcus of animal origin may get onto food that is going to be eaten raw and if food is taken out of the fridge and kept at room temperature, the organisms that can cause the food poisoning will grow. Cooked foods that are going to be eaten should be kept at the top of the fridge so that parts of other foods do not fall down on them and contaminate them.

"Also, raw foods should be kept in the fridge in a way so that they cannot contaminate other foods, for example by placing them on a dish, using clingfilm etc,” said Dr Cyril Smyth. “People should also empty out and clean their fridges regularly. People do not, unfortunately, do this enough."