Canadian Partnership for Consumer Food Safety Education

A FightBac!® Focus on Chill

Information regarding the prevention of foodborne illness through refrigeration

A FightBAC!® Focus on Chill

1. The Big Chill

Refrigerate or freeze perishables, prepared foods and leftovers within two hours, or less, of preparation. Marinate foods in the refrigerator.

2. The Thaw Law

Never defrost food at room temperature. Thaw food in the refrigerator, in cold water, or in the microwave if you will be cooking it immediately. If thawing in cold water, replace water every 30 minutes.

3. Divide and Conquer

Separate large amounts of leftovers into small, shallow containers for quicker cooling in the refrigerator.

4. Avoid the Pack Attack

Don't overstuff the refrigerator. Cold air needs to circulate above and beneath food to keep it safe.

Cool Tip: Cold foods should be kept at 4°C (40°F)

Serve and Preserve:

When serving cold food at a buffet, picnic or barbeque, keep these cool tips in mind:

  • Cold foods should be kept at 4°C (40°F) or colder.
  • Keep all perishable foods chilled until serving time.
  • Place containers of cold food on ice for serving to make sure they stay cold.

Refrigerate custards, cream pies and cakes with whipped cream or cream cheese frostings. Don't serve them if refrigeration is not possible.

Hit the Road:

When travelling with food, be aware that time, temperature and cold containers are key. Here are some tips to keep it cool:

  • Keep frozen foods in the refrigerator or freezer until you are ready to go.
  • Always use ice or cold packs and fill your cooler with food. A full cooler will maintain its cold temperatures longer than one that is partially filled.
  • When travelling, keep the cooler in the air-conditioned passenger compartment of your car, rather than in a hot trunk.
  • If you've asked for a 'doggie bag' to take home from a restaurant, the food contained in it should be refrigerated within two hours of serving.

Cool Tip: When running errands, do your grocery shopping last.

Fridge Quiz:

Put your knowledge of proper refrigeration to the test.

  1. Should leftovers be placed directly in the refrigerator? Yes or No
  2. Refrigeration prevents bacterial growth. True or False
  3. At what temperature should refrigerated food be kept to slow down the growth of bacteria?


  1. Yes, but divide large quantities of food into shallow containers (8cm/3 inches or less) and allow it to cool slightly before placing in the refrigerator.
  2. False. Refrigeration slows, but does not prevent the growth of harmful bacteria.
  3. Set the temperature cold enough to maintain an internal food temperature of 4°C (40°F) or colder. This will help to discourage the growth of foodborne bacteria. Be sure that your refrigerator is in good working order.