A Guide to Fridge Temperatures and Fridge Thermometers
Whether you’re a restaurant owner, office manager or home cook, you should check your fridge temperatures to ensure your chilled food is safe.
For food businesses, fridge and freezer checks are usually required multiple times a day as part of a HACCP plan. Home users may simply want to have a thermometer stored in their fridge so it’s visible if the fridge is not at a safe temperature.
Whatever your requirement, monitoring fridge temperatures will help to prevent food waste. Not only will it help you to identify any issues with your fridge more quickly, but optimising your fridge temperature by a few degrees will make a big difference in helping food stay fresher for longer.
There are a few different types of fridge thermometers available, with varying features appropriate for different needs. Here we will delve into the main types, some of our favourite models and the applications they’re best for, and answer a few common questions about fridge temperatures.
Read on to find the best fridge/freezer thermometer for you.
What temperature should a fridge be?
Fridges should be kept under 8 °C for chilled food to be safe to consume. For businesses in the UK, this is a legal requirement.
However, the ideal temperature for cold food is 5 °C. This ensures optimal freshness and a longer shelf life.
What is the most accurate way to monitor food temperatures in a refrigerator?
Typical fridge thermometers measure the air temperature that surrounds them. This means that when you open your fridge door, the temperature on your fridge thermometer will often rise fairly quickly. But this doesn’t mean that your food has risen to this temperature.
Fridge thermometers are a quick and easy guideline to whether your fridge is operating correctly or if the door has been open for too long. For a more thorough or accurate idea of whether your chilled food is at a safe temperature, you can test the temperature of some items using a food probe thermometer.
Best place to put a fridge thermometer?
Fridge thermometers are best placed in the middle shelf of the fridge, to give the most accurate idea of the overall temperature. The bottom of the fridge is usually the coldest, and the top is the warmest.
What to do if your fridge temperature is out of range
If your fridge thermometer is showing that your fridge temperature is too warm, test the temperature of several food items to see if they are above 8 °C. If they’re not, see if you can adjust your fridge temperature or store your food in another fridge to keep it at a safe temperature.
If your food is above 8 °C and you suspect that it has been at this temperature for more than four hours, throw it away. Perishable items that have been stored within the danger zone (8-63 °C, the optimal temperature for harmful bacteria to thrive) for up to four hours are safe for immediate consumption. Food that has been stored within the danger zone for less than two hours can be refrigerated or frozen and consumed or reheated at a later date.
If you’re not sure how long your food has been in the danger zone, it is best to still discard it. As the saying goes, if in doubt throw it out.
What are the different types of fridge thermometers?
Learn about the three main types of fridge and freezer thermometers available.
Dial fridge thermometers
Budget-friendly, spirit-filled thermometers with a simple colour-coded dial. These usually hang from your fridge shelf and can be used in fridges or freezers. No batteries are required.
Digital fridge thermometers
Fridge/freezer thermometers with a digital screen. Varying models are available, offering different features such as programmable visual icons for out-of-range temperatures, audible alarms, and max/min recordings. Temperatures are higher accuracy and easier to read than dial thermometers.
Data logger fridge thermometers
Data loggers record temperatures at timed intervals, which can then be viewed digitally. This is ideal for transporting chilled foods, so users can ensure goods are maintained at a safe temperature for the entire journey. Wi-Fi data loggers enable users to check live readings remotely and receive email alerts, ideal for food businesses wanting to prevent costly spoilage.
5 Best Fridge Thermometers for Business and Home
We’ve rounded up our favourite fridge thermometers for different applications in order of simplest to most advanced.
Best budget fridge thermometer
70mm Dial Fridge/Freezer Thermometer
This fridge or freezer thermometer is simple but does the job perfectly. It has both a stand and a hook, so you can either place it on your fridge shelf or hang it, depending on what you prefer. The colour-coded dial shows whether your fridge or freezer is within a safe or dangerous range.
Best thermometer for home fridges
Digital Fridge Thermometer with Safety Zone Indicator
A clear digital display makes this fridge thermometer easy to read for safe food storage. The safety zone indicator will show when temperatures are out of range, while the water-resistant casing means inevitable splashes won’t cause any damage.
Best fridge thermometer for HACCP
Digital Fridge/Freezer Thermometer with Alarm
The great thing about this digital fridge thermometer is that it has an external probe. This means you can attach the thermometer to the outside of the fridge and place the probe inside. Ideal for busy food businesses, daily HACCP checks can be taken quickly without having to open the door.
You can also set your own limits and the alarm will sound if readings fall out of range, perfect for being alerted quickly to take corrective actions. In addition, the max/min feature means users can see the highest and lowest temperatures reached over a period of time.
Best high-accuracy fridge thermometer
ThermaGuard Fridge Temperature Monitoring Thermometer
Some businesses are looking for a little more confidence in the accuracy of their fridge thermometers. The ThermaGuard has a high accuracy of 0.4 °C, and it can be purchased with a calibration certificate for extra reassurance. It also has a CalCheck function, which enables users to check the accuracy of the thermometer at any time.
Best data logger for fridge temperatures
ThermaData Wi-Fi TD
If remote monitoring is what you need, the ThermaData Wi-Fi TD is ideal. With one remote sensor, the thermometer will take readings at your programmed intervals and send the readings to your computer, tablet or phone. Data can be viewed and exported using the free software, and you can also opt-in to receive digital alerts for out-of-range readings. There’s no more secure method of monitoring chilled foods and preventing costly waste.
Fridge temperatures should be maintained at 5 °C for optimal food quality. The easiest way to check this is using a fridge thermometer, which should be placed in the middle of the fridge, but food probes can also be used to gain a more accurate understanding of your chilled food temperatures.
Food that has been stored above 8 °C for more than two hours must be discarded to prevent the spread of harmful bacteria.
Fridge thermometers range from budget-friendly dials to Wi-Fi data loggers. Between these choices, great options include digital fridge thermometers with alarms to make it clear when readings are out of range.
Whichever choice you go for, frequent fridge checks will prevent spoilage and maximise shelf life.
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