Refrigerator Bacteria :
Most of us have the impression that storing foods in the refrigerator is the best way to keep it safe from bacterial contamination, but what we’re not aware of is that there are also types of bacteria that can grow in cold temperatures.
Psychrophilic bacteria, otherwise known as psychrophiles, are bacteria that are able to grow at low-temperatures. These bacteria, which are also found in glaciers at Antarctic and Arctic continents, are the same types that can grow inside the refrigerator.
According to studies, psychrophiles came from either improperly packaged foods (raw meat, milk, fish, poultry, etc) or have already been growing inside your refrigerator due to improper sanitation and inappropriate refrigerator temperature. These types of bacteria include Coliforms, Vibrio, Pseudomonas, and Listeria, which are all in fact quite harmful to the human health.
Does it possible your safest refrigerator can also hold harmful bacteria?
Who would have thought that the refrigerator, which is considered as one of the safest storages for food, may be a breeding ground of some harmful bacteria? Yes, despite the fact that majority of bacteria grow in high temperatures, there are also some that grows in cold conditions.
What are Psychrophilic Bacteria?
Psychrophilic bacteria or psychrophiles are a type of bacteria that can grow in refrigerated temperatures. The psychrophiles found in refrigerators are actually the same microbes that can be found in Arctics and Antartic glaciers.
The reason why these bacteria are cold-resistant unlike their hot-lover relatives is because they contain an enzyme that none of the others have. These microorganisms are commonly responsible for faster spoilage of foods in refrigerators and may also cause contamination to some foods.
How can these bacteria be harmful to human health?
Improper packaging or processing of foods (which may include raw meat, poultry, fish, eggs, and milk) can cause it to be contaminated with psychrophilic bacteria. Unhygienic refrigerators and freezers are also some of the possible breeding places of these cold-loving microbes.
As such, when your food gets contaminated with these bacteria and you eat it, the bacteria will grow inside your body and thus present pathogenic conditions. Some bacteria may not really be harmful alone unless when they expose toxins into food which causes food poisoning.
Pseudomonas, Coliforms, Listeria, Vibrio, and Molds such as Cladosporium and Penicillium are some examples of bacteria that are quite harmful when it is inside of the human body. Salmonella is also a common type of bacteria that contaminates refrigerated foods and may cause serious illness.
Psychrophilic bacteria usually cause conditions such as sepsis, meningitis, diarrhea, irritable bowel syndrome, gastrointestinal infections, dysentery, and food poisoning. Immunocompromised people (like pregnant women, HIV or AIDs patient, and those who are undergoing chemotherapy treatment), newborns, and likewise those who have pre-existing health problems, are just some of those who have greater risks of developing harmful conditions caused by these bacteria.
Our body’s immune system on the other hand, when exposed to the bacteria’s harmful toxins, triggers its defense mechanism to get rid of these “foreign objects” thus causing nausea, diarrhea, or fatigue.While the negative conditions brought by psychrophilic bacteria may not seem as fatal as other serious illnesses, there are actually some cases from which it led to the patient’s death due to plain ignorance. This means that you should not wait for the symptoms to get worse before you take action.
Or better yet stick with the “prevention is better than cure” rule by eliminating the causes of these bacteria’s growth. By making sure that your refrigerator is clean, well-handled, and hygienic ensures that you don’t have to deal with these harmful bacteria.
What are the harmful effects of Refrigerator Bacteria?
Even though some of these bacteria are not harmful by itself alone, thus when it enters the human body (through eating foods contaminated with it) it releases toxins which are very harmful to the health. Psychrophilic bacteria may cause harmful health conditions such as sepsis, diarrhea, meningitis, dysentery, food poisoning, urinary tract infections, and gastrointestinal infections.
How to Prevent Refrigerator Bacteria from growing and spreading inside the fridge?
To prevent the growth of these types of cold-loving bacteria inside your refrigerator, you should always make sure that your fridge is at 40°F or lower.
Avoid opening the refrigerator door for unnecessary reasons as it may actually let the bacteria enter your fridge.
Always clean and sanitize your refrigerator regularly using antibacterial bleach cleaners.
Clean spills right away and organize the food placement inside your fridge. The best practice is to place raw meat, poultry, or fish at the lower part of the shelves to avoid its juices from mixing into other foods.
It is also strongly advised to place raw food into tight-sealed containers to avoid food contamination.
Always separate raw foods from cooked ones.
Ensure also that you dispose old foods to avoid cross contamination. Check for discoloration or molds in foods and immediately dispose them. Molds are often signs of bacterial growth.
To sum it all up, despite the fact that Refrigerator bacteria can actually grow inside the refrigerator too, there are plenty of ways to counterpart it. And the main solution to keep your foods safe, clean, bacteria-free is to always maintain cleanliness in your surroundings. Following the preventive tips above will also give you a head start.
Remember, prevention is always better than any cure.