Experts Have Identified the Grossest Spot in Your Fridge (And You Probably Don’t Clean it Enough)

published Feb 4, 2019
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Despite the fact that the sole purpose of the refrigerator is to keep your food safe—by chilling it enough to slow bacterial growth and rotting— it can actually pose some hazards to your health. When you think about it, it makes sense: It’s one of the few places you go in and out of multiple times per day. And when you do, you’re typically moving around food, in the middle of cooking (hello, bacteria on your hands!), or putting away new packages (which have spent time in transit, picking up who-knows-what along the way).

While there are a few spots you would probably guess are germ-y—the door handles, for one—the grossest spot in your fridge is actually pretty surprising.

(Image credit: Hannamariah)

According to NSF International, an organization devoted to developing public health standards and certification to protect human health and educate consumers about sanitation, the dirtiest spot in your fridge is actually the vegetable drawer.

This may come as a surprise, as veggies seem sort of innocuous. Yes, you’re supposed to wash them, but they aren’t as obvious a risk as, say, where you store your chicken. But in their tests, an NSF study found germs like Salmonella and Listeria, as well as yeast and mold, in the veggie drawer. The problem is not the veggies themselves, but that they can become cross-contaminated with other items, including meat juices, in your shopping cart, grocery bag, and other food handling. While many of us are conditioned to take precautions with storing meat, we just don’t think about it the same way for veggies.

Fortunately, it’s relatively easy to clean the drawer: Just empty it, pull it out of the fridge, then wash it in the sink with dish soap and water. Either let it air-dry or pat it dry with paper towels before replacing it in the fridge. And get into the habit of doing this about once a month.

When was the last time you cleaned your fruit and veggie drawers?

This post originally ran on Kitchn. See it there: This Is the Grossest Spot in Your Fridge That You’re Not Cleaning