A lot of us take our refrigerator for granted. But did you know that not only can it keep food safe, but it can save you money?

Keeping foods chilled at the proper temperature, that is, 40° F or colder, is one of the best ways to slow the growth of bad bacteria that can make you sick and spoil food faster.

Using a refrigerator thermometer is important for making sure that perishable foods are kept at the best quality for the longest time. These appliance thermometers are easy to find at discount department stores and are inexpensive.

More tips to keep foods safe and lasting longer:

As soon as you get home from food shopping, put cold foods into the refrigerator.

After two hours at room temperature, foods that need to be refrigerated should be tossed out. Two hours at room temperature is enough time for bad bacteria to grow to unsafe levels. On hot summer days that are above 90° F, refrigerate these foods within one hour.

Clean the refrigerator regularly and wipe spills immediately. This helps reduce the bad bacteria that can grow over time, even in cold temperatures.

Store refrigerated foods in covered containers to keep them safe and appealing.

Store milk and cartons of eggs in the refrigerator itself rather than on the door shelves. The door is the warmest part of the fridge because it gets exposed to warm air every time the door is opened. (Coldest parts of the fridge are the back wall and bottom shelf.)

The door shelves are best for condiments such as ketchup, mustard, and mayonnaise.

Want more Refrigerator Revelations? Try these sites:

The Partnership for Food Safety Education’s Go 40 or Below

U.S. Food & Drug Administration's Refrigerator  &  Freezer  Storage  Chart


Food Safety Field Specialist
Extension Field Specialist, Food Safety
Phone: 603-787-6944
Office: Cooperative Extension, Taylor Hall, Durham, NH 03824