Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Refrigerator Temperatures

I worked for the USDA in thier Consumer Division. We had so many calls on temperatures of refrigerators/freezers. Food not only spoils faster when not kept at the right temperature, but it can cause you to get sick. Freezers kept higher than 0F but below 32F can keep your food frozen, but it will get freezer burn, or ice crystals on the exterior of the food and cause it to dry out and taste bad.
Refrigerators and freezers used commercially for restaurant food storage or medical vaccine storage are monitored closely. Temperatures are checked daily and logged. Though you need not be that diligent, it is important to check the temperature inside your home appliances. Freezers should be kept at 0F or lower and refrigerators should be at 40F or lower, but not so cold as to freeze. Check the temperatures with a refrigerator/freezer thermometer that can be purchased at most grocery stores or kitchen outlets. A basic thermometer is around $5.00. A battery-operated digital thermometer that gives instant readings for refrigerator and freezer as well as weekly average temperatures for both is around $25. Place the freezer thermometer between two frozen objects such as two packages of vegetables and leave it for at least 24 hours before checking. Place the refrigerator thermometer between objects too, such as between two cartons of milk. This is so that the thermometer gives you a better picture of the consistent temperature rather than quick fluctuations as when the door is opened. Read the thermometers after a quiet period when the door has not been opened for a while such as first thing in the morning. It is a good idea to leave the thermometers in the appliances all the time. You might want make a note to yourself to check them once a month and whenever you have problems with the appliance.

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