Shropshire Council

Keep your fridge and freezer on to stay safe and cut cost

28 November 2022 Last updated at 04:36pm

Recent information from the Food Standards Agency (FSA) has shown:

  • 18% of people surveyed turned off their fridge or freezer containing food at least once in the last four weeks to cut down on their energy use to reduce bills
  • 32% had eaten food past its use-by date at least once in the past month because they could not afford to buy more

It may seem like turning off your fridge and freezer is a way to cut down your energy bills in the short term, but it isn’t. Your fridge and freezer are useful appliances that not only keep your food safe but can help keep your food fresher for longer and cut down on the food you waste.

Turning off your fridge and freezer can shorten the time your food stays fresh and safe to eat. Eating food past its use-by date can lead to a higher risk of you and those you prepare food for becoming ill with food poisoning. It can also use more energy to return the fridge or freezer back to temperature when switched back on.

It’s actually better for your purse to keep your fridge cold enough, ideally 5C or below. This will prevent bacteria from multiplying on your food and make it last as long as it can. Keeping your freezers set to 18C allows food to be kept for longer safely.

Use-by dates are important and must be followed as they are about safety. You can eat food until and, on the use-by date but not after. Foods that go off quickly, such as fresh meats, fish and ready packaged foods will feature use-by dates.

Best before dates are about quality not safety. The food will be safe to eat after this date but may not be at its best, as the quality of its flavour and texture may suffer over time. These dates often appear on frozen foods, dried foods and tinned foods.

Top tips:

  • Keep your fridge on and set to 5C or below to help keep food safe to eat and reduce wastage
  • Cook or freeze food on or before the use by date to prevent wastage and keep well
  • Opening your fridge / freezer frequently will make it work harder and use more electricity
  • Make sure food has cooled down before putting it in the fridge or freezer
  • Defrost food in the fridge to ensure food is safely defrosted and reduce energy usage