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Published on February 1st, 2023

Control your fridge to keep food safe

Consumer Advice Health and Safety Cooling
Various food storage containers inside a fridge. Photo by Ello on Unsplash.

During warm weather, bacteria thrive, posing a risk of food poisoning if your refrigerator isn't able to operate efficiently. It's crucial to familiarise yourself with your fridge's operating instructions and ensure that it can maintain a safe temperature. The recommended temperature range for a fridge is between 0 - 6ºC, and the thermostat should be set to regulate this temperature. It's worth noting that salmonella bacteria can grow at temperatures as low as 7ºC, and listeria organisms multiply rapidly every eight hours at 10ºC.

Proper food storage is paramount. Set the thermostat of your fridge accurately and remember the mantra,

"If in doubt, throw it out!"

Temperature Checks

To check the temperature controls and thermostat, place a thermometer on the middle shelf of your fridge and leave it overnight to obtain an accurate average reading. If the temperature isn't within the desired range, adjust the thermostatic control. This control is usually a numbered dial that is clearly visible, with higher numbers indicating lower temperatures. Once you have set the desired temperature, make sure to maintain it consistently.

Seasonal Changes

In summer, the fridge door tends to be opened more frequently than any other door in the house. To minimize temperature fluctuations, avoid leaving the door open for more than a few seconds and allow warm food to cool before placing it in the fridge. During hot weather, you may need to lower the operating temperature of your fridge.


Regularly defrost your fridge to ensure efficient operation and avoid unnecessary electricity consumption. While modern "frost-free" appliances eliminate the need for defrosting, it's important to keep the drainage hole, typically located at the rear of the cavity, clear and unobstructed.

Check your food

Lastly, always check sell-by dates on food products to ensure their freshness and quality. By following these guidelines, you can maintain a safe and efficient refrigerator that helps safeguard your health and preserves the freshness of your food.