Is Your Fridge Safe?
9 November 2005
Is Your Fridge Safe?
A study carried out for the New Zealand Food Safety Authority (NZFSA) and the New Zealand Foodsafe Partnership (NZFP)has found that one in three Kiwi homes has a fridge that's operating above the recommended temperatures for keeping food safe.
Results of the survey, timed to coincide with National Foodsafe Week, (November 7-13) run by NZFSA and NZFP show one-third of 127 fridges surveyed around the country had average air temperatures above the recommended 1 to 5 degrees Celsius operating range.
Susan Gilbert of Environmental Science and Research Ltd, who carried out the survey, said: "A lot of people wrongly thought that low numbers on their fridge setting dial equalled cooler temperature settings in their fridge."
Maintaining fridge temperatures within the recommended 1°C to 5°C helps prevent bacterial growth that can cause food poisoning, and allows perishable foods to be stored and eaten safety over two days.
Most pathogenic bacteria (those that cause foodborne illness) cannot grow at the recommended refrigeration temperatures.
Further findings revealed that four of the fridges recorded average air temperatures above 9°C. The highest recorded temperature at any one time was +18°C. Almost three-quarters of the fridges recorded higher temperatures on the top shelf, compared with the bottom.
Overall, 84 (66%) fridges had average air temperatures below 6°C.
Refrigeration is one of the most important ways of keeping food safe to avoid becoming one of the 119,000 New Zealanders who each year suffer a foodborne illness.
Says Susan: "A reliable way of ensuring your fridge operates safely is to use a fridge thermometer, available from leading hardware and kitchen or homeware stores."
Foodsafe Week, run by the Partnership and NZFSA aims to highlight the importance of transporting, storing and preparing food safety in the home and press home the 4Cs rule: Clean, Cook, Cover, Chill.
The Partnership was set up in 1998 by a small group of representatives from the food industry, consumer groups, public health groups, NZFSA and the Ministry of Health to promote consistent and appropriate food safety messages to consumers.