Best Refrigerator Temperature to Keep Food Fresh
Consumer Reports' tests find that automated temperature settings aren’t always accurate
Is there a “correct” temperature for refrigerators and freezers? Yep: A fridge temperature of 37° F will keep fresh food good for as long as possible—with no ice crystals on lettuce or bacteria breeding in raw meats. As for the freezer, a temperature of 0° F will keep foods thoroughly frozen.
But the temperature controls on many fridges only allow you to choose from a series of numbers—usually 1 through 5, with 1 being the coldest and 5 being the warmest.
And to further complicate matters, even when refrigerators have digital controls for setting precise temperatures, our tests have found that the settings aren’t always accurate.
The temperature-measuring equipment Consumer Reports uses in its lab tests is extremely precise, down to a fraction of a degree. As a result, we can tell you exactly where to set your refrigerator temperature to achieve optimal freshness.
How CR Tests Refrigerator Temperatures
When a new batch of refrigerators comes into our labs, we start by setting the ambient temperature in our climate-controlled chambers to 70° F, to simulate conditions in most home kitchens.
Then we determine which thermostat setting on each refrigerator will get the internal temperature in the center of the unit to between 36° F and 38° F. We do the same thing in the freezer, experimenting until we get the freezer temperature to between -1° F and 1° F.
5 Fridges With Superb Thermostat Control
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