Can Bacteria Grow in Refrigerators?

Despite how foods from the refrigerator look clean and appetizing to eat, it could still be a lurking ground of some bacteria.

Can bacteria grow in the refrigerator?

Not many people are aware that bacteria can still grow inside the refrigerator. Although refrigerators are commonly set at 40°F to inhibit growth of bacteria, there are still some types of bacteria that grow in low temperatures. If given the right circumstances in the refrigerator such as temperature, air, moisture, and nutrients – the growth of bacteria can apparently be very quick.

What are Psychrophilic bacteria?

Bacteria are classified as prokaryotic microorganisms and may actually grow in a variety of temperature conditions.

While most bacteria grow best in hot temperatures, there are some types of it that thrives in cold conditions. These bacteria are called psychrophiles and they commonly grow at temperatures that range from 14°F to 68°F. The reason why psychrophiles can grow in cold temperatures is because they have an enzyme that enables them to grow in such conditions. They can usually be acquired from improper packaged foods like meats, milk, and eggs or can also be due to lack of proper sanitation of the refrigerator.

Furthermore, Psychophilic bacteria are identified as Pseudomonas, Listeria, Vibrio, and Coliform, which are all harmful bacteria and can cause serious illnesses.

How do these bacteria work?

Psychrophilic bacteria divide and multiply quickly in cold temperatures. When these bacteria is consumed through foods containing it, it will either grow inside the body or discharge harmful toxins that will trigger the body’s immune system to react, thus causing nausea, diarrhea, fatigue, and some other relevant symptoms.

Why are they harmful?

These cold-loving bacteria cause quite a lot of harmful consequences which includes dysentery, diarrhea, meningitis, sepsis, food poisoning, urinary tract infections, and gastrointestinal infections. According to studies, people who have greater risks of getting exposed to these harmful bacteria are those who are pregnant, newborns, immune-compromised, and have pre-existing health conditions.

How to prevent it

To prevent psychrophilic bacteria from growing in your refrigerator, you should primarily make sure that all the foods you store in your refrigerator are properly packaged. Ensure that you disinfect or clean your refrigerator with bleach regularly. Clean spills inside the refrigerator immediately and throw foods that already have molds. Make sure that you keep your refrigerator at 40°F to slow down or prevent the growth and spread of these bacteria. Let your frozen foods unfreeze in the refrigerator instead of the kitchen counter.