Refrigerators have come a long way since they were invented as “ice boxes.” Some, like our Top Lab Pick from GE, even have built in coffee machines! One thing all modern refrigerators have in common is that they’re designed to keep foods fresh by keeping food out of the “danger zone,” the temperature range where bacteria can multiply rapidly, which spans between 40°F and 140°F, according to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA).
In order to keep your foods cold enough (and avoid food poisoning!), it’s important to know just how cold your fridge and freezer are — and how to make sure they’re actually the temperature they claim. Below, learn how to properly keep your fridge and freezer cool and how to best stock and arrange your fridge for the safest results.
What is the correct temperature for a fridge?
The ideal refrigerator temperature is between 35°F and 38°F. This recommendation teeters above freezing — no ice crystals or frozen foods here! — yet below the danger zone. When food temperatures are in the danger zone, the growth of bacteria increases exponentially, which causes food to spoil much faster than when it’s cold or hot. Eating spoiled food can lead to stomach aches and other more severe health complications caused by bacteria, like Salmonella and E. coli, according to the FDA.
How to measure your refrigerator’s temperature
Most refrigerators have adjustable temperature settings, however, it’s wise to invest in an appliance thermometer so you know how cool it actually is. A good thermometer will give you an accurate reading within 1-2 degrees, so you can trust your fridge is actually out of the danger zone.
For best results, place an appliance thermometer (or refrigerator thermometer) in the center of the area you’d like to test, such as the top shelf or meat drawer. Close the refrigerator door and wait a couple of hours for the most accurate read. Adjust the temperature controls accordingly.
A refrigerator thermometer may also be used to measure the freezer temperature, which should be 0°F or -18°C.
Where to store food in your fridge
Different parts of the refrigerator run a little cooler than others. The back and bottom of the refrigerator are the coolest, while the upper shelves are a little warmer. The door shelves run the warmest. Here’s what to store where:
Upper shelves: Leftovers and snacks should be stored on the upper shelves. Not only is the temperature more consistent on these shelves, but food is more easily accessible, making it harder to forget about that extra pasta Bolognese.
Fridge door: Condiments — not milk and eggs! — should be stored in the door. That’s because condiments have more preservatives in them, which make them more shelf stable and less sensitive to changes in temperature.
Butter compartment: If you store butter in the door, use the butter compartment. The little door helps keep that area cool even if you open the refrigerator door a lot.
Meat drawer: Some refrigerators have “deli” or “meat” drawers that are designed to be cooler than the rest of the refrigerator. If your refrigerator has an option to control the temperature, aim for 36°F for deli meat and 32°F for all other raw meats. The lower temperatures are responsible for slowing the growth of bacteria and preventing them from multiplying rapidly, which helps keep your meat fresher, longer.
Lower shelves: If you don’t have a designated meat drawer, it’s wise to store foods that spoil the quickest, like raw meat and dairy, on the bottom shelves, which are the coolest. This also helps avoid cross contamination if your meat happens to leak.
Crisper drawer: Also known as fruit and vegetable drawers, crisper drawers aren’t designed to be cooler than other parts of the fridge, but they do help control the humidity. Fruit tends to benefit from low humidity, while vegetables tend to benefit from high, so be sure to store fruits and vegetables separately because most fruits produce ethylene, a chemical which helps them ripen — and can cause neighboring vegetables to ripen sooner than you’d prefer.
Remember: Not all produce benefits from being refrigerated! Onions, garlic and potatoes should all be stored in a cool, dark place. Tomatoes should be stored on the counter, as should melon. Both will get sweeter and more flavorful as they ripen.
How to keep your fridge at a safe temperature
Refrigerate food quickly. The FDA recommends storing food at room temperature for no longer than two hours — and only one hour if it’s hotter than 90°F. After that, food should be covered and refrigerated in order to meet food safe standards.
Don’t put hot food into the fridge to cool. Instead, it should be brought to room temperature first, then placed in the refrigerator for two main reasons: The hot food could cause the fridge temperature to drop and the surrounding food to spoil. Also, hot food takes longer to cool than room temperature food, which increases the amount of time the food will linger in the danger zone.
Check your fridge’s gasket for tears that could allow cooled air to escape. Even the smallest tear could prevent the door from closing properly, ultimately resulting in a drop in temperature.
Don’t crowd your fridge. “Cold air must circulate around refrigerated foods to keep them properly chilled,” according to the FDA.
Make sure the coils are clean. Located on the back, bottom or top of your fridge, refrigerator coils are responsible for helping to keep things cool. They help the refrigerator work by releasing heat to cool and condense the refrigerant, which is responsible for soaking up heat from the refrigerator and freezer. Over time, the coils can accumulate dust or pet hair, which can affect how well they release heat. A buildup can cause the compressor to overheat.To clean the coils, first unplug your fridge. Then, use a coil cleaning brush to loosen and remove the dust from the coils. Vacuum the surrounding area, and plug your fridge back in. If you have pets or your fridge is located in a dusty area, clean the coils twice a year. Otherwise, once a year is recommended.
Through this article, we hope to help you understand Best temp for fridge