What Temperature Should Your Fridge Be?

by Sandy Hess
Critical case for a major appliance repair

Refrigerators have been a staple in kitchens across the country for nearly 100 years. While refrigerators are effective at keeping food safe, it’s crucial that you keep it set to the right temperature.

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According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, your fridge should be set no higher than 40 degrees Fahrenheit (4 degrees Celsius).

What Temperature Should Your Refrigerator Be?

While the government sets the standard refrigerator temperature at 40 degrees Fahrenheit (4 degrees Celsius), others consider the ideal fridge temperature 37 degrees Fahrenheit (3 degrees Celsius). This step ensures your fridge remains cold enough to keep your food safe.

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What Happens If the Temperature Is Too High?

If the temperature inside your refrigerator goes above the recommended temperature, it could cause the food inside to spoil. Even worse, it can cause bacteria to start to grow. This bacterium can lead to dangerous food-borne illnesses, such as E. coli, salmonella and listeria, which can lead to abdominal pain, hospitalization and, in severe cases, death.

Is It OK to Keep Your Fridge Cooler Than This?

If the temperature in your fridge goes below 34 degrees Fahrenheit (1 degree Celsius), it can cause the food inside to start freezing. This issue could reduce the quality of food in your fridge. For example, fruits and vegetables can start to brown faster or turn mushy.

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What Temperature Should Your Freezer Be?

The temperature in your freezer should be cold enough to ensure the food remains frozen. The Food and Drug Administration recommends keeping your freezer temperature set at 0 degrees Fahrenheit (-18 degrees Celsius). If the temperature in your freezer goes above this level, the food stored here may start to thaw. This, in turn, can cause bacteria to grow, which can lead to the same food-borne illnesses listed above.

How to Check the Temperature in Your Refrigerator

The easiest way to check the temperature in your refrigerator and freezer is to purchase a specialized thermometer at your local hardware or retail store. These thermometers are fairly inexpensive and easy to use. All you need to do is place a thermometer in the refrigerator and freezer and wait for at least 8 hours for the most accurate results.

If the temperature in your fridge or freezer is under or above the recommended levels, it’s important to adjust the settings. You should refer to your owner’s manual to find directions for adjusting the temperature for your refrigerator’s specific make and model.

If adjusting the temperature doesn’t fix the problem, it could indicate that there is a mechanical issue with your refrigerator. For example, there could be a problem with its thermostat or compressor. If you’ve tried adjusting the temperature in your refrigerator and it’s still not right, it may be time to have it checked by a professional.

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