Q. Which is correct? To put hot food in the fridge or to leave it cooling on the bench?

Written by Catherine Saxelby on Friday, 07 February 2014.

Q. Which is correct? To put hot food in the fridge or to leave it cooling on the bench?

Q. It used to be a no-no to put hot food into the fridge because it raises the temperature inside the fridge. But we're also told not to leave food cooling on the bench as this allows bacteria to multiply. Which is correct?

A. Bacteria in food love to grow when the temperature is between 5 and 60 degrees Celsius (known as the Temperature Danger Zone), so food needs to be kept either very cold or very hot to keep bacterial growth in check and so prevent food poisoning.

The correct practice when storing leftover hot food is to allow it to cool on the bench until it has stopped steaming before placing it in the fridge.

Don't leave it to completely cool as slower cooling provides the perfect environment for bacteria to grow. When reheating food, heat to steaming hot – this will kill any bacteria that may have grown whilst in the fridge. Never reheat food more than once.

Catherine Saxelby

About the Author

Catherine Saxelby knows nutrition! She is an accredited nutritionist, food commentator, blogger and award-winning author. Her latest book Catherine Saxelby's Food and Nutrition Companion answers all those tricky questions on healthy eating, diets and supplements. It draws together a lifetime of advice and gives you all you need to know to eat right! It's a complete A to Z. A handy desk go-to reference.