Must-read Long-term Food Storage and Safety Guidelines

Ashwini Kulkarni Sule Nov 26, 2018
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To avoid running to the grocery store every now and then, it is important to store food so that it is available for consumption at the time of crisis.
Storing your food not only avoids unnecessary errands to the grocery store, but also keeps you to be equipped with food supply in the time of crisis. But, there are certain factors you should consider while storing food for the long term.
Safety is the foremost factor to be considered. The entire purpose of food storage gets defeated, if the stored food turns inedible.

What to Store?

Store only those food which you are most likely to consume. There is no point in storing something you dislike. Wheat, rice, cooking oil, sugar, dry milk, honey etc. are the common ingredients of most recipes. So, ensure you always have ample stock of these items.
Follow a rotation method to replenish the stock. Dried fruits packed in metal cans can be stored for long term. If you wish to store packaged or canned foodstuffs, then, be careful while buying them. Ensure there are no dents or other damages. Check the manufacturing date.
Soups can be safely stored at a room temperature for 5 years, but acidic foodstuff like tomato soup can last only for 18 months.

Safety Guidelines

To increase the shelf life of food, adhere to the food-specific storage practices.
  • Wheat, rice, grains, seeds, beans, legumes should be stored in large poly containers. You can get 10 gallon poly buckets at a paint shop.
  • Avoid storing anything in used containers, as they contain molecules of previous food, which may spoil the fresh stock.
  • Always opt for opaque materials over transparent ones, as light can deteriorate the contents inside.
  • Place a piece of dry ice or add a few dried bay leaves to protect your grains from insects.
  • Store the poly buckets in the dry areas of your basement or kitchen closets.
  • Ensure the lid is airtight.
  • Foodstuff like meat or dairy products should always be refrigerated.
  • Frozen food should be chilled at appropriate temperature only.
  • Never allow thawing and re-freezing of food, as it can accelerate the growth of bacteria.
  • Cooked food like bread and fruits are stored for a short term only.
  • Do not consume or store foods that have exceeded their expiry date.

Emergency Storage of Food

Emergencies strike without warning. Hence, one must be prepared for such situations. Always keep an emergency kit of essential foodstuffs ready. This should include dry milk, bread, sugar, butter and other items. Refill this kit periodically, so that the contents don't spoil. People in disaster prone areas should particularly have an emergency kit at hand.
Always store your food in a cool and dry place, irrespective of the food type. If you are likely to face a power cut for long, then consume perishable foods in the refrigerator before going for the ones in the freezer.