Is your refrigerator safe?

Never assume that your refrigerator is always at a proper temperature.

Do you know what the temperature is inside your refrigerator? Do you know what the temperature should be inside the refrigerator? To prevent bacteria from multiplying to numbers large enough to make someone sick, cold foods need to be kept at or below 40 degrees F. If your refrigerator temperature is above the recommended number of 40 degrees F then your food is being exposed to the “temperature danger zone,” a range of dangerous temperatures from 40 to 140 degrees F where bacteria can grow.  In the temperature danger zone, bacteria multiply rapidly and the more bacteria present in food, the greater the likelihood you will get sick from consuming it.

People often make the unsafe assumption that the refrigerator is always at a proper temperature, when many times that is not the case. Michigan State University Extension reminds you that the only way to make sure that your refrigerator is at the recommended temperature for safe food is to have a refrigerator thermometer inside and monitor the temperature often. Refrigerator thermometers are inexpensive and can be purchased at many hardware stores, supermarkets and grocery stores. A small investment in a thermometer can give you peace of mind in knowing your food is at a temperature which will not allow harmful bacteria to grow.

Other refrigerator tips to keep your food safe include:

  • Label food before refrigerating it to include a discard date of three to four days for leftovers.
  • Do not overfill the refrigerator unit. Space between items allows for good air flow and circulation.
  • Divide foods into shallow containers or smaller pieces before refrigerating to allow for proper cooling and storage.
  • Keep the refrigerator door closed as much as possible.
  • Keep the refrigerator unit clean, including the shelves and drawers.
  • If you don’t use food items and leftovers, discard them on a regular basis.

By following the simple recommendations above, you can be sure the food you keep in your refrigerator will be safe for everyone to enjoy.

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