Is your fridge the right temperature?
Fridges and freezers are one of the few appliances that work 24/7. For something so vital, how often do you check that it is working correctly?
You may think you would know if your fridge wasn’t working – either your vegetables would freeze or your milk would be warm – but it isn’t always that obvious.
It is important to regularly check the temperature of our fridges and freezers to ensure they are keeping our food safe.
Just a degree or two too warm may mean that your food could spoil, which could put you and your family at risk of getting a foodborne illness.
Modern fridges are far more reliable at maintaining the correct temperature, but it still pays to check, especially if you have an older model.
Your fridge temperature should be between 0⁰C to 4⁰C.
Most bacteria that cause food poisoning are unable to grow at these temperatures.
Using a fridge thermometer is the best way to determine the temperature of your fridge.
If you don’t have a fridge thermometer you can also measure your fridge’s temperature by putting a standard thermometer in a glass of water and leaving it in the fridge. Take the temperature when you open the fridge for the first time the next morning.
If your fridge is too warm, change the temperature by adjusting the dial in the fridge. If you need to make changes to the temperature of your fridge, do it slowly. Only raise or lower the temperature by one increment per 24 hours, until you reach the right temperature.
Other things you need to know about your fridge:
- Don’t overfill it. There needs to be enough room for the cool air to circulate around the food to keep items cold, so don’t pack it too full and avoid shoving food up against the walls.
- When the weather is warmer it can pay to turn your fridge down to compensate for the warm air that will be entering the fridge when the door is opened.
- Make sure there is a complete seal around the fridge door so that no cold air can escape. One way to test this is to put a piece of paper into the fridge seal and close the door. If the paper is held in place firmly than there is no issue with the seal.
Your freezer should be -18⁰C.
Use a fridge thermometer to determine the temperature of your freezer.
Other things you need to know about freezers:
- Freezers work better and are more efficient when they are full, or nearly full, as there is less surrounding air to cool. If your freezer isn’t very full, put in a few plastic bottles with water in them into the freezer.
- If you are putting a lot of food into the freezer all at once, try to cool it in the fridge first, rather than putting in room temperature food which will require a lot of cooling.
- If you have a chest or standalone freezer which is in a garage or shed, it is important to regularly check the temperature of it. The air temperatures in these places can be more extreme, which means that the freezer needs to work harder to maintain a cold internal temperature.
- If your freezer has a large ice build-up (more than 5cm) you need to defrost it to get rid of the ice. Click here for information on how to defrost your freezer.
Most of us would be lost without our fridge and freezer, so take the time to give it a little bit of TLC.