Storing Meat in Your Refrigerator

Once I get the meat in the refrigerator it’s fine and won’t spoil, right?

Meat comes from animals that can carry bacteria which might make us sick. Because of this storing meat safely to prevent the growth of any bacteria that may be present is important.

Bacteria can multiply rapidly and cause food to spoil or make it unsafe. Bacteria produce the slime, toxins, off colors and odors associated with food spoilage. However, disease-causing bacteria can grow without changing the odor, color or texture of the food. For this reason, keeping meat cold enough to prevent bacterial growth (or heating it to a temperature which kills them) is critical. Food spoilage bacteria grow best at environmental temperatures of 70° to 100°F. They will grow more slowly at temperatures above and below this temperature range. Your refrigerator should be between 34° and 40°F, because most bacteria grow extremely slowly, if at all, in this range.

Check the temperature of your refrigerator with a thermometer even if your refrigerator is new. To measure the temperature in the refrigerator:

  1. Put a glass kitchen thermometer (candy thermometer) in a glass of water and place it in the middle of the refrigerator.
  2. Wait 5 to 8 hours.
  3. If the temperature is not 38° to 40°F, adjust the refrigerator temperature control.
  4. Check the temperature again after 5 to 8 hours.

Tips for Refrigerator Safety: