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What Is a Safe Home Freezer Temperature?

Updated March 23, 2017

Everybody knows to keep frozen meats and other foods in a freezer, and most understand that it has something to do with food safety. What's less well known is why, and what temperatures are best for keeping your meat safe for the family.

How it Works

A freezer keeps food safe by preventing the growth of bacteria that causes food-borne illnesses. Some bacteria spoils the food, making it unpalatable or giving it an odd texture. Others, called pathogenic bacteria, cause illnesses and even death. Bacteria grow best at temperatures between 15.6 and 51.7 degrees Celsius. Over the long term, food must be kept colder to remain safe.

Safe Freezer Range

According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Food Safety and Inspection Service, freezer temperature should stay at -17.8 degrees Celsius.

Foods to Freeze

Meat is the food that's most important to freeze because it is the most likely to host pathogenic bacteria. Most food poisoning from vegetable sources occurs when the vegetables are contaminated by direct or indirect contact with meat. For freshness and long-term storage, the freezer is a good place to store vegetables and pre-prepared meals.

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About the Author

Jake Wayne has written professionally for more than 12 years, including assignments in business writing, national magazines and book-length projects. He has a psychology degree from the University of Oregon and black belts in three martial arts.