A recent study uncovered that close to 20% of households maintain their refrigerators at the wrong temperature. While it is common for people to store food at the default setting, many according to the research, were keeping food at temperatures that harmed food more than preserve.
Who Was Behind The Study?
Researchers from RMIT University in Australia curated the interesting study with Dr Bhavna Middha as the lead author of the study.
What Did They Find Out?
Dr Middha shared, “Most households blamed their own behaviors, such as reading the use-by date wrong, before considering their fridge might be the culprit.”
While researchers suggest that refrigerated items should ideally be stored between 35.6°F to 44.6°F (2 – 7 degrees Celcius), approximately 17% of individuals tend to maintain their fridges at temperatures either higher or lower than this range.
Why Was The Study Necessary?
With the backing of the Fight Food Waste Cooperative Research Centre and Meat and Livestock Australia, experts emphasised that Australians discard a minimum of 140,300 tons of meat annually. To address the issue of food wastage within households, researchers investigated the temperature settings of refrigerators and freezers in 56 homes.
Middha explained, “When food is too warm, bacteria multiply too fast. When food is too cold, it can freeze or get a freezer burn. Both conditions lead to food spoiling.”
How Did The Study Help?
In their observations, researchers identified varying temperatures within refrigerators, with certain shelves recording as high as 50°F (10 degrees Celsius), while others dropped as low as 30°F (-1 degree Celsius)
Notably, households with children often encountered fluctuating temperatures, owing to the frequent opening of the fridge, which occurred as many as 20 times a day.
Middha added, “Research found households are unaware their fridges could be making their food spoil faster, especially if the fridge temperature is warmer than the standard.”
The prevalence of households following inaccurate food storage practices has prompted researchers to advocate for increased awareness regarding food safety. Middha thought, “A one-stop advice platform for food storage could be a really useful tool to combat all the conflicting food storage advice that’s confusing households.”
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