The Ideal Refrigerator Temperature to Refrigerate Food

Last Updated on May 29, 2021 by CHANDRAMANI

Refrigerating food items is the best way to stop bacterial growth and prevents it from getting spoilt. The proper refrigerator temperature keeps food fresh for a longer period as well as prevents you from getting ill due to food poisoning.

The ideal refrigerator temperature for refrigerating food items is 40 °F or below i.e. 0ºC to 5ºC. Food stored at above 40 °F for two hours and one hour if the air temperature is above 90° F should not be consumed.

Bacteria grow rapidly between 40 and 140 °F but the taste, smell, or appearance of food do not change. That’s why it is difficult to tell whether a pathogen is present in the food or not.

Ideal Refrigerator Temperature

FoodIdeal Refrigerator TemperatureHow long it is safe to consume(Duration)
Fresh Beef, pork, veal, lamb28°F to 32°F1 to 2 days
Fresh Turkey, chickenBelow 40°F1 to 2 days
All Poultry Raw (breasts, whole bird, legs, thighs, wings, ground poultry, giblets, and stuffing)38 degrees to 40 degrees F1 to 2 days
Fresh Eggs40° F or below3 to 5 weeks
Fish, Shrimp, lobster, crab, and scallops40° F or belowTwo to three days
Fruits32 to 55°FVaries
VegetablesWarm season crops 45 to 55°F
cool-season crops 32 to 35°F

How to Monitor Refrigerator Temperature

You should use a thermometer to measure your refrigerator temperature. Thermometers are inexpensive accessories that you should have in your fridge.

Refrigerator Alarms can remind you of the unfavorable temperatures in your refrigerator and hence can prevent food spoilage.

How to Refrigerate Food Safely

  • Keep the refrigerator temperature at 40° F (4° C) or below. Use an appliance thermometer for measuring the temperature.
  • Cover food items, so that odors do not get mixed
  • Refrigerate hot food directly or cool them quickly in ice-cold water before putting them inside the refrigerator
  • Cut large pieces of meat or chicken into smaller pieces before refrigeration as if any small part gets spoiled it will not affect the other pieces.
  • Do open the door frequently as cold air gets easily escaped and is replaced by warm air.
  • Store perishable food items on the inner side as it is the coldest part of the refrigerator
  • Store fruits & vegetable in the crisper drawers as they provide an optimal storage environment
  • Use the products by the date if printed on them.
  • Keep the food out of the fridge for the shortest time as much as possible
  • While defrosting the freezer of the refrigerator, store the food in a cooler to prevent thawing
  • Keep the refrigerator clean, wipe the spills with a clean cloth. Clean surfaces regularly with hot, soapy water and then rinse.
  • To remove the odors place an opened box of baking soda on the shelf.

Storage Duration For Refrigerated Foods

Storage Times For Refrigerated Foods
Ground Meat, Ground Poultry, and Stew Meat
Ground beef, turkey, veal, pork, lamb1-2 days
Stew meats1-2 days
Fresh Meat (Beef, Veal, Lamb, and Pork)
Steaks, chops, roasts3-5 days
Variety meats (Tongue, kidneys, liver, heart, chitterlings)1-2 days
Fresh Poultry
Chicken or turkey, whole1-2 days
Chicken or turkey, parts1-2 days
Giblets1-2 days
Bacon and Sausage
Bacon7 days
Sausage, raw from meat or poultry1-2 days
Smoked breakfast links, patties7 days
Summer sausage labeled “Keep Refrigerated”Unopened, 3 months;
Opened, 3 weeks
Hard sausage (such as Pepperoni)2-3 weeks
Ham, Corned Beef
Ham, canned, labeled “Keep Refrigerated”Unopened, 6-9 months;
Opened, 3-5 days
Ham, fully cooked, whole7 days
Ham, fully cooked, half3-5 days
Ham, fully cooked, slices3-4 days
Corned beef in pouch with pickling juices5-7 days
Hot Dogs and Luncheon Meats
Hot dogsUnopened package, 2 weeks;
Opened package, 1 week
Luncheon meatsUnopened package, 2 weeks;
Opened package, 3-5 days
Deli and Vacuum-Packed Products
Store-prepared (or homemade) egg, chicken, tuna, ham, and macaroni salads3-5 days
Pre-stuffed pork, lamb chops, and chicken breasts1 day
Store-cooked dinners and entrees3-4 days
Commercial brand vacuum-packed dinners with/USDA seal, unopened2 weeks
Cooked Meat, Poultry, and Fish Leftovers
Pieces and cooked casseroles3-4 days
Gravy and broth, patties, and nuggets3-4 days
Soups and Stews3-4 days
Fresh Fish and Shellfish
Fresh Fish and Shellfish1-2 days
Fresh, in shell3-5 weeks
Raw yolks, whites2-4 days
Hard-cooked1 week
Liquid pasteurized eggs, egg substitutesUnopened, 10 days;
Opened, 3 days
Cooked egg dishes3-4 days
Source: U.S. Safety and Inspection service of the U.S. Department of Agriculture

Storing food During Power Cuts

During power cuts, the stored food is safe for about four hours. If the food is stored for more than 2 hours above 40 °F, then it should be discarded away. You can store food in a portable fridge and power it with your vehicle battery if you have one.

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