1.6°C or 35°F= The Goldilocks Zone For Refrigeration
Hello all at TFL! Having spent years in the employ of restaurateurs before making my way into food grade manufacturing and facility maintenance supervision, I have had to learn the importance of Food Safety and Food Defence. My resume includes knowledge of; FSSC (a global food safety initiative system), HAACP, FDA allergen awareness, Food Defence and AIB certification controls.
I am proud to work for Plastipak Packaging, Incorporated. We are the number two worldwide leader in flexible packaging and one of Europe's largest recyclers of PET plastics (Luxpet). Chances are you have one of our plastic bottles in your home right now, whether it represents any one of our myriad of customers for Beverage, Consumer Cleaning, Food, Industrial and automotive, Personal care, Preforms, bio-based plastics and specialty products. We exist because our customers exist.
But enough about that: I'm hear to remind us all of our duty to food stewardship. It keeps us and our loved one safe.
On my journey through time and space, I have been unlucky enough to have had food poisoning twice, and let me tell you if you have never had food poisoning, you are blessed. It is an absolute horror to have colors of liquid emanating from your body that would make a color wheel cry, at velocities approaching warp factor 3 with a 102°F fever. Do you know how hard it is to barf a cracker? The shivers and bone ache, like being in a vice shaped of my own person, squeezed by the weight of a ship not unlike the Titanic is enough to sink anyone's spirits to unfathomable depths - but what's more is being afflicted with a love for food and not being able to enjoy it. It's akin to Beethoven's loss of hearing - a cruel and fickle punishment of nature, and yet it could have been avoided.
I must admit a contributor here, Mini Oven, inspired my post with a comment about refrigerator temperature. I thank her for such musing. Thank you Mini Oven.
The FDA recommends a temperature of <40°F (4.4°C) for refrigerated food storage. While there are complicated temperature rules to receiving and shipping foods of various types, there are general rules of thumb for safe home food storage under refrigeration. The simplest of which is to actually put a thermometer in your refrigerator. It's so common sense, but I must ask... Do you have a thermometer in your refrigerator?
Being a baking forum and understanding the important nature of your baking medium we know how important it is whilst we cook food, but it is so much more important for the food we store it. Statistics even show that 27% of homes in the U.S. have 2 refrigerators, and if food is improperly stored in both of those, the risk of contracting a foodborne illness is twice as high (duh, right?). To complicate things, if we crowd or refrigerators with leftovers that aren't cooled to below 40°F within two hours of cooking, we run the risk of uneven cooling. A refrigerator works on a basic principle of recirculated air. Block that air and what is blocking it gets cold while what needs the cold stays at an improper temperature, at least until equilibrium is attained. Equilibrium may take even a few days (depending on mass requiring cooling and the temperatures above 40°F contained therein, cooling capacity or heat exchange, gain, relative humidity, et.al.), and since bacteria can set in at under 20 minutes, it's not worth waiting for. Keep your refrigerator clean and evenly spaced. If it's getting crowded it's time to cull that side of asparagus you didn't want to waste or haven't gotten around to repurposing in soup. Frugality must give way to basic health decisions.
The Goldilocks Zone for a refrigerator is at 35°F or 1.6°C. This gives a fluctuation upward of 5°F and still leaving food in a liquid state, and 3°F from freezing. And a brief word on freezing, your freezer should be a 0°F (-17.7°C) or less. So please take that instant read thermometer you use to check you poultry, beef, pork, bread or fish for food safety and place it in your fridge. If you see more that 40°F, you know what must be done. Make cleaning it a regimen once a month. Label your freezer goods with a Sharpie, the date they went in or should be used by, and when in doubt, throw it out.
Oh, and don't think meat is the only thing that can make you sick. The first time I got ill was from a bad tomato.
I tell you this as a former sufferer of foodborne illness. You don't want to go through the pain. You don't want loved ones to go through the pain... or worse.
Use these links for more information: