Food Safety in Your Refrigerator

By Food Focus on 25 June 2021

Food safety is everyone’s responsibility – that responsibility stretches from the farmer to the producers and manufacturer, to the retailers and restaurants, all the way through to the consumer. That means YOU!

Since the fridge is where we store our perishable food, it makes sense to pay special attention to food safety when it comes to this area of our kitchen. So…

Keep your refrigerators cold! 

You need to maintain the temperature below 4oC in the fridge and then from -120C to -180C in the freezer section. Keeping fridge doors closed, and seals clean and working properly also helps to maintain the correct temperature in your appliance.

Don't pack your fridge too full

You need to leave space for cold air to circulate around the foods in order to be able to maintain their temperatures at safe levels. This is especially important in hot weather when we tend to store more beverages in the fridge.

Avoid Cross-Contamination

Keep ready-to-eat foods like cheeses, yoghurt, cold meats etc on the top shelves.  Raw foods such as meat and poultry should be stored on lower shelves to avoid leaking of juices onto other foods, which could contaminate them. 

Keep it Covered

Make sure to keep foods in your fridge stored in containers or plastic wrap to keep them fresh and to avoid cross-contamination

Use it or Lose it

It is important to remember that even in a fridge, food won’t keep indefinitely. This applies especially to pre-cooked and ready-to-eat foods – so make sure to keep them cold and follow the instructions on the packaging regarding use-by dates. 

If in doubt, throw it out - although on saying that we hate food waste, so a better choice would be to plan effectively and use all the food in your fridge while it is still fresh and tasty. 


These must be cooled quickly and refrigerated within 2 hours of cooking - don't leave them out at room temperature, as that provides a breeding ground for bacteria.


It’s important to marinate your foods in a container INSIDE the fridge - not out on the counter.

Maintain the Chain

The cold chain that is.  This means don’t let your groceries defrost or warm up too much before you get them home and into the fridge or freezer.  Experts recommend no longer than 2 hours outside the fridge between shop and home, and no more than 1 hour on a hot day! Make sure to plan your trips to the grocery store so that you go home straight after shopping, and take a cooler bag/box with you so that you can pop your perishables in it for the journey especially in the hot summer weather.

PS: Even when in the store, fill your trolley with the non-perishables first, and do the cold aisles and perishable foods at the end, just before you go to the tills. 

Keep it Clean

Clean your refrigerator and freezer regularly (especially spills from raw meats). If you remember the Listeria outbreak of 2018, you will recall that bacteria like this can even grow at cold temperatures, so fridge hygiene is important.

First, clean your refrigerator thoroughly with warm soapy water. Then mix 1 teaspoon of unscented bleach to 1 litre of water. Put in a spray bottle, spray the surface, let it stand for 10 minutes, wipe with a clean paper towel. Let air dry.  (Remember to use this bleach solution immediately as it becomes less effective if left to stand)

Check the Dates

Check expiry and use-by dates on products such as sauces and condiments that hang around in your fridge for a while and make sure they are not posing a risk.

This use-by date applies to frozen food too, so make sure you know the Shelf Life of your Frozen Food.