Take your refrigerator’s temperature

Have a refrigerator thermometer in your refrigerator at all times to make sure your food is being held at 40 degrees Fahrenheit or below.

Your refrigerator is probably the most important piece of equipment in your kitchen for keeping your food safe. Michigan State University Extension encourages you to make sure that your refrigerator is at the right temperature. Check its temperature on a regular basis.

To check your refrigerator’s temperature you must keep a refrigerator thermometer in it and make sure that it is at 40 degrees Fahrenheit or below. Appliance thermometers are inexpensive and can be purchased from a hardware, grocery or similar type of store.

When the power goes out and puts our food’s safety in jeopardy, we are all instantly reminded of the refrigerators importance to our daily lives. Refrigerators are so common today that we forget that it was once just a little more than a box with a block of ice in it.  

Refrigeration slows bacterial growth. Bacteria exist everywhere in nature. They are in the soil, air, water and the foods that we eat. When a bacterium has nutrients (food), moisture and favorable temperatures, they grow rapidly, increasing in numbers to the point where some types of bacteria may cause illness. Bacteria grow most rapidly in the range of temperatures between 40 and 140 degrees Fahrenheit, some doubling in number in as little as 20 minutes. That is why it is recommended that refrigerators be set at 40degrees Fahrenheit or below.

There are two completely different families of bacteria. One kind causes foodborne illness. The other kind of bacteria causes foods to deteriorate and develop unpleasant odors, tastes and textures.

Bacteria that causes food borne illness can grow rapidly in those temperatures between 40 and 140 degrees Fahrenheit, but these bacteria do not generally affect the taste, smell or appearance of a food. As an example, food that has been left too long on the counter may be dangerous to eat, but could seem fine. On the other hand, spoilage bacteria can grow at low temperatures, such as in your refrigerator. Eventually they cause food to develop off or bad tastes and smells. Most people would not choose to eat spoiled food, but if they did, they probably would not get sick.    

Make sure that you have a refrigerator thermometer in your refrigerator. Then remember to take its temperature regularly.

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