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By Karen Alexander, Oncology Wellness Specialist


Food Safety Basics

Many factors go into maintaining your family’s well-being, one of them is knowing how to store food properly in order to keep food safe for your loved ones. In this bulletin, you will learn the basic safety rules given by the USDA for cold food.

Storage tips

  • Always refrigerate perishable food within 2 hours (1 hour when the temperature is above 90 °F).
  • Check the temperature of your refrigerator and freezer with an appliance thermometer. The refrigerator should be at 40 °F or below and the freezer at 0 °F or below.
  • Cook or freeze fresh poultry, fish, ground meats, and variety meats within 2 days; other beef, veal, lamb, or pork, within 3 to 5 days.
  • Perishable food such as meat and poultry should be wrapped securely to maintain quality and to prevent meat juices from getting onto other food.
  • To maintain quality when freezing meat and poultry in its original package, wrap the package again with foil or plastic wrap that is recommended for the freezer.

Cold Storage Chart

  • These storage times will help keep refrigerated (40 °F) food from spoiling or becoming dangerous to eat. 
  • Because freezing at 0 °F or below (not 32 °F) keeps food safe indefinitely, recommended freezer storage times are for quality only. 
  • Use an appliance thermometer to monitor storage temperatures in the refrigerator and freezer.

* Because freezing at 0 °F keeps food safe indefinitely, recommended storage times are for quality only.


  • Refrigerator: The refrigerator allows for slow, safe thawing. Make sure when thawing meat and poultry that the juices do not drip onto other food.
  • Cold Water: For faster thawing, place food in a leak-proof plastic bag. Submerge in cold tap water. Change water every 30 minutes. Cook immediately after thawing.
  • Microwave: Cook meat and poultry immediately after microwave thawing.


  • Meat and poultry defrosted in the refrigerator may be refrozen before or after cooking. If thawed by other methods, cook before refreezing.


Have a great weekend!

Karen Alexander, BSND, MSCN

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