What Temperature Should Your Refrigerator Be?

How cold is a refrigerator? Is there a set temperature you should keep your food? Do a few degrees one way or the other really matter in the long run? Most people simply put their food in their refrigerator and freezer and never touch the thermostat again. However, there are recommended settings that can help maximize the preservation of food.

So, what temperature should your refrigerator be? We’ll get into that below along with recommendations for storing your food safely.

FDA Refrigerator Temperature Recommendation

Most people understand that your refrigerator should not be set at or below 32 degrees, as you don’t want your food to freeze. The reason why we keep food cold is to minimize the opportunity for potentially dangerous bacteria to grow and infest your food. If some of these strains of bacteria are consumed, it could lead to serious illnesses or worse.

According to the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), you should keep your refrigerator at or below 40 degrees and your freezer at 0 degrees Fahrenheit. The FDA also recommends that you check the temperatures periodically. Newer refrigerator and freezer models come with electronic temperature readings, but you still may want to consider using an appliance thermometer to guard against any inaccurate data from your refrigerator’s computer.

Ideas for Fridge Safekeeping

The best way to keep your food safely is to make sure that your refrigerator is in working order. If you need help with that, you can refer to our refrigerator maintenance tips. In addition, you’ll find five other ideas below to help you keep your food fresh as long as possible.

Clean it Up

As stated above, one of the reasons for identifying what temperature your refrigerator should normally be is to minimize the chance that bacteria will grow on your food. Although, even at these cold temperatures, some bacteria can still spawn and cause problems. According to the US Drug & Food Administration, listeria is one of those types of bacteria that can survive cold temperatures for extended periods of time. When something spills in the refrigerator, it can lead to cross-contamination of bacteria between foods, and that can create a risky situation for anyone who eats out of it. You should clean up any spills that occur as soon as you notice them.

Put Food Away Promptly

We’ve all put leftovers aside and forgotten about them as we did the dishes or got distracted by wiping off the table or other tasks. Average fridge temperature will not really matter too much if you leave food out at room temperature for more than an hour or two. If you buy perishables at the store, head home and put them away immediately. Put your leftovers in the refrigerator before doing anything else so you can protect yourself from potential harm from bacteria.

Put Food Away Carefully

There are many reasons why you should consider putting all of your food in sealed containers before putting it in your refrigerator. This will not only help to keep the food moist and fresh longer, but it will also effectively seal off that food’s bacteria from getting into the refrigerator and cross-contaminating with other microscopic bodies that are in there. Use plastic containers if you have them, if not, use sealable plastic bags.

Give it Some Space

The main way a unit attains proper average fridge temperature is through the circulation of cold air. There are a series of fans and vents in every refrigerator that injects cold air into the compartments when the temperature gets too high. When you put too much food in a refrigerator you not only risk blocking off those vents, but you’re also blocking off the movement of the cold air. What temperature your refrigerator should be is not necessarily what you’re going to get if you do that. Move things around and eliminate unnecessary items to prevent this possibility.

Marinate Under Cover

How cold should a fridge be? Cold enough to accommodate your food that’s marinating. It’s tempting to marinate different types of food at room temperature, as it’s believed that the cooking process will kill off any bacteria. That may not necessarily be the case. Instead, marinate your food inside a container (see above) and put it in the refrigerator until just before it’s time to cook.

What If I Lose Power?

Everything discussed above with regards to what temperature your refrigerator should be assumed that you’re simply setting it and watching it. What happens if you lose power suddenly? How cold is a refrigerator that isn’t running? A refrigerator will remain cool for a few hours during a power outage, but you must keep the doors closed as much as possible to avoid having warm air invade the compartments. If you lose power for less than an hour, you should be fine. If it lasts longer than two hours, proceed with caution.

You can also protect yourself from costly repairs if your refrigerator stops working by providing yourself with home warranty coverage. Home Warranty of America helps customers avoid these unforeseen problems, so feel free to give us a call at (888) 492-7359 or contact us online if you have any questions or concerns.

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