Have you ever opened a fridge and found the products inside have gone bad even though the fridge is still cool? How does it happen? Simple. The refrigerator temperature range rose above the ‘Danger Zone’. This can happen for different reasons ranging from:
*Factory Preset Error
To avoid groceries going bad, having to replace your fridge, eating food that could make you sick and more we need to know two things. One, what is the ‘Danger Zone’ for fridges. Two, the steps you can take to avoid the ‘Danger Zone’.
The Danger Zone
There are two different types of bacteria. The first is Spoilage bacteria. This occurs naturally in all foods. Spoilage bacteria is deemed an issue of quality, not safety. An example of Spoilage would be the smell milk gives off past its due date. The second type of bacteria is where the ‘Danger Zone’ comes in.
The Food Safety and Inspection Service defines the ‘Danger Zone’ in a fridge as any temperature above forty degrees fahrenheit (0-4 degrees Celsius). The ‘Danger Zone’ gets its name because it is the temperature at which pathogenic bacteria can grow. This can be dangerous. Pathogenic bacteria differs from Spoilage bacteria because, unlike Spoilage, Pathogenic bacteria can smell and appear safe to eat when it is not.
To protect you from growing Pathogenic bacteria in your fridges FSIS has created regulations for factory presets temperatures.
Refrigerator Factory Presets
Manufacturers have regulations to make sure all factory presets for fridges keep the temperature below the ‘Danger Zone’. Most manufacturers build a monitoring system into the fridges to further protect the consumer.
Most fridges come with an internal thermometer to regulate temperature. As the temperature inside the fridge rises (say from being opened to long or inserting a semi-warm dish into the fridge) the thermometer signals the fridge to start cooling until it is back to factory preset.
To add an extra level of protection to your fridge it is wise to purchase a small fridge thermometer. You can use the thermometer to measure the temperature to ensure your food is safe from the ‘Danger Zone’. To protect yourself even further here are a few key steps you can take to protect yourself from spoilage bacteria from fridge temperature fluctuations.
Safety Tips to Stay Out Of The Danger Zone
A great fridge only offers so much protection. The biggest error outside of manufacturing defects that causes the temperature to rise into the ‘Danger Zone’ is human error. Here are three things you can do to ensure you don’t create a ‘Danger Zone’ in your fridge and avoid human error.
1)Don’t over crowd the fridge:
If you crowd a fridge with new groceries at the same time the fridge has to work overtime to lower the temperature enough to get within the safe zone. If your fridge is over stuffed with new groceries it might not be able to cool everything fast enough to keep you safe.
2)Your fridge is old and hasn’t had a check up:
Fridges run day and night for years. We rarely, if ever, think to check on them. It is wise to check your fridge once a year to make sure it is running up to code.
3)Don’t put hot food in the fridge:
The FSIS has strict guidelines about how long a food needs to cool before putting it into a fridge. They suggest letting cooked food cool before storing. Putting hot food into a fridge can raise the temperature of the fridge, along with everything in it, above the danger zone before the fridge can bring everything back to the safety zone. Don’t make this mistake. Let your food cool, after covering it, before putting it away.
Fridges are regulated to keep us safe from food born bacteria. If you are interested in learning more about how to protect yourself, what to look for in a fridge, and more details on how to keep yourself away from the ‘Danger Zone’ you can learn more at...