Whether you’re bringing food home from the grocery store, getting groceries delivered, or storing leftovers or takeout, make sure you refrigerate perishable food quickly. Put meat, seafood, eggs, milk, fruits, vegetables, and other perishables in the refrigerator or freezer within 2 hours (within 1 hour if the temperature outside is above 90°F).
Do not leave perishable food sitting out. Bacteria that can cause food poisoning (foodborne illness) grow quickly when food sits in the “Danger Zone” between 40°F and 140°F, which includes room temperature.
To protect against bacteria growth that could cause food poisoning, set your refrigerator temperature at 40˚F or below. Follow these additional steps to keep perishable food safe:
- Divide a large quantity of hot food, such as a big pot of chili, into smaller portions in several clean, shallow containers so it will chill faster.
- Check Foodsafety.gov’s Cold Food Storage Chart to know how long it’s safe to keep food in the refrigerator.
- Store raw meat on the bottom shelf of the refrigerator, away from fresh produce and ready-to-eat food.
- Throw out foods left unrefrigerated for over 2 hours.
Read these CDC webpages for more information on food safety: