Correct temperature control is essential to maintain food quality, nutrient content, and control of bacterial growth. Daily monitoring of temperatures is necessary to ensure adequate storage conditions.

proper storage temperatures

Dry Storage

Many items such as canned goods, baking supplies, grains, and cereals may be held safely in dry storage areas. The guidelines below should be followed:

  • Keep dry storage areas clean with good ventilation to control humidity and prevent the growth of mold and bacteria.
  • Store dry foods at 50°F for maximum shelf life. However, 70°F is adequate for dry storage of most products.
  • Place a thermometer on the wall in the dry storage area.
  • Check the temperature of the storeroom daily.
  • Store foods away from sources of heat and light, which decrease shelf life.
  • Store foods off the floor and away from walls to allow for adequate air circulation.

Refrigerated Storage

Refrigeration increases shelf life of most products. Most importantly, refrigeration slows bacterial growth. Optimal refrigerated storage conditions can be achieved by following these guidelines:

  • Maintain refrigerated storage spaces at 32-40°F
  • Make thermometers readily observable, easily readable, and accurate to +3°F.
  • Position the temperature sensor to register the warmest air in the refrigerated space to ensure adequate cooling.
  • Establish the correct refrigerator temperature by placing a thermometer in a glass of water in the middle of the refrigerator. Wait 5 to 8 hours. If the temperature is not 38-40°F, adjust the temperature control. Check again after 5-8 hours.
  • Ensure that refrigerators have enough open, slotted shelving to allow for air circulation around shelves and refrigerator walls to maintain proper food temperatures.
  • Ensure that doors have a good seal and close tightly to maintain the temperature and the efficiency of the unit. Additionally, keep doors closed as much as possible.
  • Keep a back-up appliance thermometer in the unit in case of a power outage. If the refrigerator is still 40°F when the power returns, the food is safe. The food should not be consumed if the temperature is held at 40°F for more than two hours.

Freezer Storage

Freezers should be used to store frozen food when it is received. Optimal frozen storage conditions can be achieved by following these guidelines:

  • Maintain freezer storage spaces at 0°F or below.
  • Make thermometers readily observable, easily readable, and accurate to +3°F.
  • Position the temperature sensor to represent the actual storage temperature or place several thermometers in the unit to ensure accuracy and consistency.
  • Establish the correct temperature in the freezer by placing a thermometer between frozen food packages. Wait 5 to 8 hours. If the temperature is not 0-2°F, adjust the freezer temperature control. Check again after 5-8 hours.
  • Ensure that freezers have enough open, slotted shelving to allow for air circulation around shelves and walls to maintain adequate food temperatures.
  • Ensure that doors have a good seal and close tightly to prevent heat gain. Additionally, keep doors closed as much as possible.
  • Keep a back-up appliance thermometer in the unit in case of a power outage. If the freezer is still 0°F when the power returns, the food is safe.

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4 Responses to “Proper Storage Temperatures for USDA Commodities”

  1. Franklin White

    Thanks for explaining that refrigerated stoarge places should stay between 32-40 degrees. My brother is coming up with a new product that needs to be kept refrigerated. I’ll tell him that once he starts storing int in warehouses he needs to find one that has storage space that’ll keep it between 32-40 degrees.

    Reply
    • Oxana Cobbold

      Thank you, Franklin, for your comment. Please keep in touch and let us know if we can be of any help to you and your brother with your need for cold chain management!

      Reply
  2. Rebecca Gardner

    It was helpful when you explained that refrigerated storage should have open shelving to allow for the air to fully circulate around the products. My brother is looking for a commodity storage facility he can use for the fruits and vegetables his small farm will produce this year. I’ll send him this info so he can more easily compare potential storage warehouses and pick the right one!

    Reply
    • Oxana Cobbold

      Thank you, Rebecca, for your comment. Please keep in touch and let us know if we can be of any help to you and your brother with your need for cold chain management!

      Reply

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