Refrigerate - The Basics

Reviewed by Wendy Marcason, RDN
inside of refrigerator

Cooling foods keeps them out the "danger zone" — between 40°F and 140°F — and slows the growth of illness-causing bacteria. Refrigerate promptly and properly to reduce your risk of food poisoning. How long can foods remain unrefrigerated?

Perishable foods must be refrigerated at or below 40°F within two hours (only one hour if in weather over 90°F).

Never thaw or marinate foods on the counter.

Toss expired foods. Refer to the Keep It Cool Storage Chart or the Is My Food Safe? app for a guide to the shelf life of common foods.

Find an Expert

Need serious help making a plan? The nutrition experts in our professional membership are ready to help you create the change to improve your life.

Search Now