'Stuff the turkey not the fridge' says CHOICE

Save on running costs and prevent food spoilage this Christmas

CHOICE tests of hundreds of fridges over the past 20 years show that the amount of food and where you put it in a fridge has a big impact on its running costs and the freshness and safety of the food stored within it.

Australians throw away more than 1.1billion dollars’ worth of fruit and vegetables each year.¹ The people’s watchdog says that by storing moderate amounts of food in the section of the fridge best suited to that item, people will see that the food maintains its appearance and quality.

“During this time of year, when we have more parties and get-togethers, it’s easy to be tempted to squeeze as much food as you can into every nook and cranny of the fridge,” says CHOICE spokesperson, Ingrid Just.

“However by doing so, food can deteriorate more quickly and running costs push higher as the fridge motor works harder to keep cool.”

CHOICE says freezer compartments work most efficiently when food is kept away from the cold air outlets in frost-free models and air space is left around the inside walls for better air circulation.

Space should also be left around the outside of the fridge to allow heat from the fridge’s motor to escape which prevents the fridge from running at maximum power levels. The geographical location of a fridge can also affect its efficiency.

“If you live Alice Springs your fridge may have to work harder to maintain optimum temperatures than it would if you live in Hobart,” says Ms Just.

CHOICE tests show that people should think not only about where they store food in the fridge, they should also think about how they store it: 

  1. Keep eggs in original cartons - you’ll know their age; it protects them and slows moisture loss. The carton also prevents eggs from absorbing food odours. Fresh eggs can be kept up to five weeks in the fridge but boiled eggs should only be kept for up to five days.
  2. Meat lasts longer in the chiller rather than the main compartment. The chiller has an adjustable flap which allows more cold air in.
  3. Use the dairy compartment for butter and cheese as it keeps the products closer to serving or spreading temperature. Soft cheeses should go in the main compartment where it’s cooler – this prevents listeria bacteria contamination.
  4. Use ice-cream as your freezer temperature guide –if crystals form or the ice-cream turns yellow, the temperature is too warm. 
  5. Use fridge thermometers – put one in the freezer and another in the main compartment. Ideal temperatures are: freezer -18°C, main compartment 3°C, chiller 0°C and the vegetable crisper 4°C.
  6. If you’re buying a new fridge, check independent reviews first – see www.choice.com.au

To buy smart and get the best fridge tips this silly season, read CHOICE's fridge and freezer reports.

¹What a waste - an analysis of household expenditure on food; The Australia Institute, November, 2009.

Media contact: Ingrid Just, CHOICE, Head of Media and Spokesperson: 0430 172 669

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