Storage - Refrigerated Foods

  • Refrigerate foods to maintain quality as well as to keep them safe. Cold temperatures keep foods fresh and inhibit the growth of most bacteria. However, food spoilage microorganisms can still grow and multiply slowly over time, so there is a limit to the length of time various foods will stay fresh in the refrigerator. Use the accompanying food storage information (see pp. 14–49) to help keep perishable foods safe.

  • Always refrigerate perishable food within 2 hours (1 hour when the temperature is above 90ºF).

  • Use a refrigerator/freezer thermometer to ensure your refrigerator is at 40ºF or below and the freezer is at 0ºF or below.

  • Place meat, poultry and seafood in the coldest part of the refrigerator. Store eggs in their original carton on a shelf, not in the door.

  • Leave meat, poultry and seafood in the store package before using. Repeated handling can introduce bacteria into food preparation areas. Place meat, poultry and seafood items on the lowest shelf to minimize leakage onto other stored foods.

  • Be sure stored foods are tightly wrapped. When using a sealable bag, try to squeeze out as much air as possible. If using a plastic container, choose the smallest container that will hold your food. Store opened food in foil, plastic wrap, sealable plastic bags or airtight, food storage containers to keep food from drying out. Remember, use these foods within the time guidelines in The Food Keeper.

  • Clean the refrigerator regularly to remove spoiled food, odors and bacteria. Do not overload the refrigerator. Air must circulate freely to cool all foods evenly.

  • Search the Food Keeper Database