Temperature Gauge
Set refrigerator temperatures somewhere between 34-40º F since cold slows bacteria growth. Any warmer than 40 degrees and bacteria numbers ratchet up fast, doubling in as little as 20 minutes. Check the temp periodically with an inexpensive refrigerator or outdoor thermometer because built-in thermostats can be off. Tip: Stash hot leftovers in small, shallow containers and cool off in cold water or an ice bath for a short period before refrigerating because putting hot leftovers in the fridge can raise the temperature.
| Credit: Lee Harrelson; Styling: Mindi Shapiro, Laura Martin

Most refrigerators have a built in thermometer that will tell you: as long as the temperature is still 40 degrees, the food is safe. According to the USDA, food held at temperatures above 40 degrees for more than 2 hours should not be consumed.

For more food safety information, see Can Your Refrigerator Kill You?