Photo by Sergei Sushchik on Unsplash

Although refrigerators are an essential appliance nowadays, people still have to deal with food spoiling. A fridge that freezes or spoils fruits and vegetables more quickly than usual is most likely not operating at its optimal temperature. Having a refrigerator is good, but using it at the ideal temperature for food and fruits makes it worth having. What is the perfect refrigerator temperature?   

According to the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA), the recommended refrigerator temperature is from 40°F and below. However, knowing that some bacteria can multiply at 40°F, the best temperature to keep your fridge at is between 34°F and 39°F (1.1 to 3.9°C).

We’ve conducted extensive research on this topic and have included everything you need to know in this article. Read on to learn more. 

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What is an ideal refrigerator temperature?

refrigerated foods

A fridge is an appliance that uses an essential food storage technique known as refrigeration. It keeps foods in their edible state for as long as possible. However, to do this, it must work at a temperature that is unfavorable for bacterial growth but favorable to preserve the nutritional content of the food or fruits as well as their natural state for as long as possible. This temperature is known as the ideal refrigerator temperature. 

Put in simpler terms, an ideal fridge temperature is a refrigerator temperature that is cold enough to keep perishable foods fresh and other items without freezing them or facilitating the growth and multiplication of bacteria. 

Typically, perishable food stored in refrigerators working at lower temperatures than ideal creates freezer burn. In contrast, those held in temperatures higher than the right temperature usually end up with spoiled food as the temperature inside favors the growth of bacteria and allows them to multiply rapidly.

Note!

There are two unique characteristics of a correct temperature,

  1. It preserves the fridge’s contents such as perishable food or drinks by keeping foods cold without freezing them.
  2. It preserves the fridge’s food and other content at the right temperature that will not favor bacteria growth and cross contamination.

Any refrigerator temperature that cannot accomplish both tasks is not an ideal or safe temperature.

What is the correct temperature of the fridge?

As previously mentioned, according to FDA, the recommended temperature is from 40°F and below. Temperatures between  34°F and 39°F (1.1 to 3.9°C) will prevent your refrigerator content from freezing and prevent the growth and multiplication of bacteria that destroy perishable foods, the safe zone.

Temperatures out of that range are not ideal for refrigerators and will not preserve fresh produce and other foods in the state you want them to be. That’s the danger zone.

Why are temperatures at and below 40°F considered ideal refrigerator temperatures?

Having understood what an ideal refrigerator temperature is, let us move forward and analyze why temperatures at and below 40°F are considered ideal. 

Temperatures from 32°F (0°C) and below will protect perishable food like raw meat against microorganisms but change their tenderness, color, juiciness, and flavor. This makes them ideal for freezer temperature but not refrigerators. 

Temperatures above 40°F will favor the growth of microorganisms like Escherichia coli (E. coli), salmonella, and listeria, which are responsible for foodborne illnesses and food poisoning.

For this reason, temperatures between 34°F and 39°F (1.1 to 3.9°C) are ideal refrigerator temperatures because they keep food fresh without freezing and inhibit the growth of microorganisms that can cause foodborne illnesses. 

Refrigerators working at such ideal temperatures preserves the original state of perishable foods that are best stored in cold, moist places, such as eggplant, broccoli, carrots, and apples, as well as products that are best stored in cold, dry places such as garlic and onions.

How do you set the ideal fridge temperature?

Setting the best temperature for your fridge is not as difficult as most people think. The procedure will differ for different refrigerators. For this reason, the first thing you should do is to

Check your refrigerator manual.

  • This is a vital step that you must follow to keep your fridge working properly. Please read the instructions and locate your refrigerator’s temperature controls.

Set the new ideal fridge temperature between 34°F and 39°F

  • This should be done immediately after locating your refrigerator and freezer temperature controls. Irrespective of whether your control is a dial or digital touchpad, choose the proper temperatures you want and input it.

Place a freestanding refrigerator thermometer in your refrigerator.

(Image credit – Amazon.com)

  • Most fridges are compartmented where there are some temperature fluctuations compartments. Place an appliance thermometer in each compartment of your fridge and measure the temperature reading after 20 minutes each.  Any inexpensive freestanding appliance thermometer will get the job done.
  • Ensure that the varying temperatures are within the ideal temperature range.
  • Additionally, take note of the temperature of each compartment so that you can store perishables in the colder compartments and produce that have a longer life in the less cold compartments.

The measured temperatures will be within the ideal range if your temperature control is accurate. However, if it is inaccurate, you must make a few adjustments.

Typically, If your refrigerator temperature control is inaccurate, the thermometer reading shows 32°F or 45°F when you set it at 38°F; you should do the following.

  • Adjust the temperature using the control and measure the actual temperature in the fridge using an appliance thermometer.
  • Do this several times using different temperatures until the temperature reading within the fridge is an ideal temperature.

In such a case, you should prioritize the thermometer reading, not the inaccurate refrigerator control reading.

Bonus!

Best refrigerators rules to follow to keep your food microorganism-free. 

  • Check the temperature of your refrigerator from time to time using refrigerator thermometers.
  • Do not put hot food into your refrigerator. Hot food may temporarily increase the temperature and favor the growth of microorganisms.
  • Avoid leaving your refrigerator door open. Make sure that the door seal is functioning correctly to keep cold air in and warm air out.
  • Keep a fully stocked fridge, but avoid overcrowding your refrigerator. Keep as much space as possible between items in your refrigerator to ensure proper airflow and properly chilled food item.

Conclusion

To summarize, we have seen that food and other products are best preserved in a refrigerator that works at the ideal temperature. 

Temperatures from 32°F (0°C) and below are ideal for the freezer and frozen food, but not refrigerator temperatures because they freeze perishables. This results in the loss of tenderness, color, juiciness, and flavor. On the other hand, temperatures above 40°F are not ideal refrigerator temperatures because they are warm enough to favor the growth of microorganisms.  

Temperatures between 34°F and 39°F (1.1 to 3.9°C) are ideal refrigerator temperatures. They keep food fresh without freezing and inhibit the growth of microorganisms that can cause foodborne illnesses.

Your refrigerator needs to work at the ideal temperature for the best results. So set yours at the perfect refrigerator temperature using your owner’s and the procedure described above.

Thanks for reading to the end! 

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