Do you know what shelves your refrigerated food should be stored on

Knowing where to store different types of food in your fridge is essential to avoid becoming ill from cross-contamination of raw and cooked food. Read our guide on how to store food correctly.

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Top and Middle Shelves

The top two shelves of any fridge should be used for storing ready-to-eat food, with the very top shelf dedicated to diary products such as cream, cheese and yoghurt. The second top shelf should be used for storing butter, cooked meats, cream cakes and other packaged foods such as jam and ketchup. It should also be used for leftover food,, which should be covered and sealed to keep any air out.

According to the Food Standards Agency, which has a handy colour-coded poster to help you remember the different fridge zones, you should store raw food below ready-to-eat food. This is so that no raw juices can drip on to other food and contaminate it.

If possible, it says, you should use separate fridges for raw and ready-to-eat food. This is ideally what should happen in commercial food settings, where large amounts of food are prepared for the public. When it comes to commercial refrigeration, businesses can get advice on the best storage and units from a specialist such as

Bottom Shelf

The bottom shelf should be used for raw meat, poultry and fish so that they don’t touch other food or, as mentioned above, drip on to it. As well as making sure they are below, raw foods should be well wrapped or kept in a sealed container so that they can’t come into contact with other types of food.

Salad Drawer

The very bottom of the fridge will normally have a drawer for storing fruit and vegetables. Before you put them in the fridge, they should be washed and ideally wrapped in plastic or paper with holes to allow air in. This will protect them from any contamination.

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A good tip for herbs and salad leaves is to wrap them in a damp paper towel, which keeps them fresher for longer and stops them from drying out.

Other Facts

The correct temperature of any fridge is between 0 and 5 degrees C so that food is not spoiled and bacteria cannot multiply. Fridges should not be overloaded in order to avoid blocking the cooling unit.