Was It Something I Ate?  >  Store It Right



Keeping Foods Cold

The temperature of the refrigerator and freezer is important. Refrigerator and freezer temperatures should be checked each day to be sure they are cold enough. Refrigerators should be between 32 and 40 degrees F (0 - 4.4 degrees C), while freezers should be 0 degrees F (-18 degrees C) or below.


Here are some tips for keeping the refrigerator and freezer cold:

Don't pack the refrigerator too full. Cold air must be able to circulate to keep food cold.

Keep the refrigerator and freezer doors closed as much as possible. Know what you want to get out before you open the door.

Be sure the door seals are tight.

Clean the coils of the refrigerator at least once a month.

Don’t put the refrigerator next to the oven or by a window where the sun comes in. This will cause it to be warmer.


Recommended Storage Times For Cold Foods

Recommended maximum storage times for cold foods have been developed. However, remember that these times are mostly freshness dates. The temperature of the refrigerator and the number of times the product is taken out of the refrigerator, opened and replaced will have an impact on the quality of the product.


Refrigerator And Freezer Storage Chart

(40° F, 4.4°C)
(0°F, -18°C)


Egg, chicken, ham, tuna, & macaroni salads

3-5 days

Does not freeze well

Hot Dogs



Opened package

1 week

1-2 months

Unopened package

2 weeks

1-2 months

Luncheon Meats



Opened package or deli sliced

3-5 days

1-2 months

Unopened package

2 weeks

1-2 months

Bacon & Sausage




7 days

1 month

Sausage, raw - from chicken, turkey, pork, beef

1-2 days

1-2 months

Hamburger & Other Ground Meats



Hamburger, ground beef, turkey, veal, pork, lamb, & mixtures of them

1-2 days

3-4 months

Fresh Beef, Veal, Lamb, & Pork




3-5 days

6-12 months

Chops 3-5 days 4-6 months
Roasts 3-5 days 4-12 months

Fresh Poultry



Chicken or turkey, whole

1-2 days

1 year

Chicken or turkey, pieces

1-2 days

9 months

Soups & Stews



Vegetable of meat added

3-4 days

2-3 months




Cooked meat or poultry

3-4 days

2-6 months

Chicken nuggets or patties

3-4 days

1-3 months


3-4 days

1-2 months

Adapted from http://www.foodsafety.gov/keep/charts/storagetimes.html


Other Storage Tips

Label foods with the date they were opened. It is easy to forget when an item was actually opened or used last.

Place all leftovers in safe, preferably air tight storage containers. Label the container with the name of the food and the date it was prepared.

You have probably heard the statement “keep hot foods hot and cold foods cold”. This is one of the best ways to avoid getting sick from eating something that was not stored properly or soon enough.

Hot foods should be kept at 140 degrees F (60 degrees C) or above. Cold foods should be kept at 40 degrees F (4.4 degrees C) or below.

Hot foods that are going to be cooled need to reach 40 degrees F (60 degrees C) within 2 hours.

Divide meat or poultry into small portions to refrigerate or freeze.

Refrigerate or freeze gravy, potatoes, and other vegetables in shallow containers.

Remove stuffing from whole cooked poultry and refrigerate separately from the poultry.

Any food, including cut produce, left at room temperature for more than two hours needs to be thrown into the garbage.

Raw meat and poultry products in the refrigerator or freezer need to be wrapped tightly so the bacteria juices do not drip onto other foods. Those in the refrigerator should be put on the bottom shelf, on a plate, or in a container.


Canned Foods And Storage

Canned fruits and tomatoes can be stored for 12 – 18 months.

Canned meats and vegetables can be stored for 2 – 5 years.

In order for the cans to maintain their shelf life they must be stored in a cool dry place.

Any can that is dented, leaking, swelling (looks like it is going to explode), or rusted must be discarded.

A can that has not been opened should not be stored in the refrigerator or freezer.

Wash can lids before opening and wash can openers after each use. This will prevent any unwanted bacteria from the can opener or the can itself contaminating the food.




What Did You Learn?

At what temperature should the refrigerator be kept? (Choose one answer)


Placing the hot food into small shallow containers in the refrigerator will help in cooling the food to 40 degrees F (4.4 degrees C) within two hours. (Choose one answer)


When should a can of vegetables be thrown out? (Choose one answer)




Please Select Another Topic to Continue

Let’s Start with the Basics

Better Safe than Sorry — What Not to Eat

The Right Tools for the Job

Clean It! Make It Safe!

A Little Elbow Grease

What Is Hot and What Is Not



Last Update: 04.06.12

Copyright © 2008-10. All Rights Reserved.