What temperature should my fridge and freezer be?

What temperature should my fridge and freezer be?


Keeping food in the fridge is necessary to slow down the growth of germs and ensure that it remains fresh and safe for longer. Foods that need to be kept refrigerated will be marked on the packaging and will have a ‘use by’ or ‘best before’ date, e.g. raw and cooked meat, prepared food, dairy and salads. Chilled food should be kept out of the fridge for the shortest time possible during preparation.  

Keep your fridge temperature at 5 degrees Celsius or below

It is important to keep your fridge temperature at 5 degrees Celsius or below. From time to time, check any built-in digital thermometers against a free-standing one to ensure accuracy. 

Keep your fridge clean and hygienic and try not to overfill it so that air can circulate to maintain a steady temperature. If necessary, take out those items that don’t need to be chilled e.g. cold drinks and beers, to allow space for essentials.

Cooked food should be cooled down as quickly as possible

Cooked food should be cooled down as quickly as possible at room temperature, preferably within two hours, and then placed in the fridge. Do not place it in the fridge before it has cooled as this will affect the temperature for other items.

The freezer should be set at below -18 degrees Celsius

Here are some top tips to help you plan:

  1. Make sure food is cooled before freezing to avoid increasing the temperature of the freezer and causing other foods to defrost.
  2. Freeze food in manageable portions so that this can be used according to need and not wasted. Don’t forget to label it, as it may not be obvious what it is and labelling should include the date of freezing.
  3. Food should be defrosted in the fridge and used within two days, or according to manufacturer’s instructions. If time does not permit to defrost in the fridge, you may be able to use a microwave on the ‘defrost’ setting immediately before cooking. Again, please follow the microwave manufacturer’s instructions.
  4. Do not refreeze food unless it has been cooked in between, e.g. mince for Bolognese. Cooking will kill off any bacteria.
  5. Make sure to wrap your food properly to avoid freezer burn. Freezer burn is what happens when food loses moisture in the freezer. This will happen more slowly if the food is packaged properly. But while it might not be super appealing — and the texture or taste might not be up to your standards — freezer burn is still safe to eat. Using sealed containers will limit the amount of single-use plastic required and often makes it easier to store effectively.
  6. It is important, whenever possible, to freeze food at its prime, not when it is old, to avoid wastage. It will not be improved in the freezer.
  7. As a full freezer is more economical to run, it may be worth using everyday items such as frozen peas or other vegetables to fill the space.
  8. Defrost the freezer regularly, placing the frozen food in the fridge where most things will remain frozen for up to 2 hours. However, you may need to consider other options regarding ice-cream or similar items.
  9. If you have a power cut, try not to open the door and the food should stay frozen for up to 24 hours.
  10. However, if you are in any doubt about an item and whether it is safe to eat, it is better to throw it out and not take that risk.