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How Cold Should Your Freezer Be?

Question: I’m worried that my freezer isn’t cold enough. What is the right temperature for a freezer? 

Answer: You should keep your freezer temperature at or below 0° F, says the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.

At that freezer temperature, the growth of harmful bacteria will be halted — indeed, foods that are kept constantly frozen at 0°F or lower will keep safe indefinitely, notes the FDA. (When frozen food begins to thaw, however, bacterial growth will resume.)

The best way to find out whether your freezer is cold enough is to use a freezer thermometer. You can find inexpensive models at most grocery and hardware stores.

Bear in mind, too, that although foods may remain safe while they’re frozen, they will eventually start to go downhill when it comes to texture, flavor and taste. To ensure that you enjoy the best quality, consult the Keep It or Toss It database for optimal freezer storage times. 

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