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Storing food: how to get it right

Store in a dark place, keep dry, store at room temperature or keep refrigerated: all food has its own unique storage requirements. Storing food correctly ensures it lasts as long as possible. Find out here what's important when it comes to storing food.

Storing food correctly: follow the storage advice on the packaging

As well as the food labelling and best-before date, on some packaging you'll also find advice on storing the product correctly. This table explains exactly what the different instructions mean.
Keep frozen
Store in the freezer at -18 °C or colder
Keep refrigerated
Store in the fridge at +2 to +5 °C
Store in a cool place
Store at up to +15 °C, but not in the fridge
Store at room temperature
Store at +18 to +22 °C
Keep in a dry place
Store in a dry place where the maximum humidity is 70%
Protect from light
Protect from direct light sources
Explanations of the storage advice on packaging

Storing refrigerated food correctly

When you're shopping make sure any refrigerated or frozen products are the last things you put into your trolley. Take your refrigerated or frozen products straight home after your shop – ideally in a cool bag. When you get home, put your refrigerated or frozen food into the fridge or freezer straight away.
Diagram of which areas of the fridge different foods should be stored in
Many types of food need to be stored in specific areas of the fridge as some products need to be kept very cold and others less cold. Air circulates around the fridge, resulting in different temperature zones. The way it works is simple: cold air goes down and warm air goes up. The glass shelf above the vegetable compartment stops the cold air from going all the way down to the bottom, which stops the fruit and vegetables from getting too cold.
This means the coldest part of the fridge is directly above the vegetable compartment. The temperature there is usually between +2 and +5 °C. At these low temperatures most bacteria reproduce very slowly, so you should primarily use this area to store food that spoils easily, like meat and fish.
Tip: Check the temperature of your fridge regularly using a separate thermometer. You should also clean your fridge thoroughly once a month. This stops any germs or mould spreading inside.

How to store fruit and vegetables

With fruit and vegetables in particular it's not always clear what needs to be stored in the fridge and what can be left out. As a rule of thumb: native varieties tend to prefer it cool and exotic varieties from warmer countries prefer room temperature. But there are exceptions.
  • Fruit and vegetables that can go in the fridge:
Apples, apricots, asparagus, beetroot, berries, broccoli, carrots, cauliflower, celery, cherries, damsons, figs, grapes, green beans, kiwis, mushrooms, nectarines, peaches, pears, plums, radishes, salad leaves, sprouts, white cabbage
  • What to keep out:
Aubergines, bananas, citrus fruits, courgettes, cucumber, mangos, melon, onions, papaya, peppers, pineapple, potatoes, squashes, tomatoes
Some types of fruit and vegetables give off ethylene when they are stored, which can cause other varieties to ripen more quickly. So you should always store varieties that are sensitive to ethylene away from those which give off lots of the gas.
  • Varieties which give off ethylene:
Apples, apricots, avocados, bananas, nectarines, peaches, pears, plums, tomatoes
  • Varieties that are sensitive to ethylene:
broccoli, carrots, cauliflower, cucumber, honeydew melon, kiwis, leeks, mangos, peppers, potatoes, spinach, sprouts, white cabbage
Now that you've read up on food storage are you also interested in finding out about sustainability and eating a balanced diet? If so take a look at our articles on "Planning healthy meals" and "Climate-friendly food".
Would you like to know how to store food such as bread, meat, vegetables etc. in the best way possible? Then check out our "Fresh – How to make food keep longer" brochure!