Why Shouldn’t You Put Metal in the Fridge: Food Storage Tips 
why shouldn t you put metal in the fridge

Proper food storage containers are essential if you want to keep your food fresh and contaminant free. The wrong type of container can expose your food to bacteria, cause food to dry out, and spoil and contaminate your food.

There are many different food storage solutions, such as plastic containers, metal containers, glass containers, and plastic food storage bags, that can help you store your food. However, many feel that putting metal in the fridge is bad. But why shouldn’t you put metal in the fridge?  

Why Shouldn’t You Put Metal in the Fridge?

There are quite a few reasons so many advise against using metal inside your fridge. But it is essential to realize that some metal containers can be successfully used to store food inside a fridge. In addition, some metal containers are great for preserving your food inside the fridge. So, look below at when you can or shouldn’t put metal in the fridge.

Why is Stainless Steel Used for Storing Food in the Fridge?

Stainless steel is one of the few metal types that can be used for storing your food in the fridge. Many love to use stainless steel containers because it offers numerous benefits like the following;

  • Stainless steel is a non-porous and tarnish-resistant metal that doesn’t absorb odors or become stained when it is in contact with other elements.
  • Stainless steel containers are easy to clean because they are naturally stain-resistant and non-stick.
  • Stainless steel containers are highly durable and will stay in excellent shape for many years.
  • Stainless steel does not react with acidic foods and won’t alter your food’s flavor, look, or condition. 

It is, however, essential to realize that not all stainless steel containers were created alike. Therefore, you should only use containers with the following characteristics. 

  • Containers that are made from high-quality food-grade stainless steel. Poor quality stainless steel consists of too much iron and can start to rust if exposed to acids in food.
  • Only use containers that can adequately seal and cover your food. If food is stored without a lid, it will dry out, the flavor will be altered, and your food will be exposed to bacteria that can cause it to spoil.
  • If you use a lid-free stainless steel container, your food should be covered with cling wrap to prevent contamination.  

Metals That Shouldn’t Be Used for Storing Food in the Fridge

Woman looking in fridge

Copper and aluminum are the two common household metals that should never be used for storing food inside or outside a fridge because these metals can react with food and cause metal poisoning.

Some food containers or cooking pots are made from food-grade aluminum or copper. These special materials can make storing food in these containers safer. However, there are some scenarios where storing your food in copper or aluminum could be dangerous. Here are the top reasons to avoid these types of food containers. 

Copper and Aluminium Can React Chemically

When copper or aluminum is exposed to certain food types with a high acidic level, a chemical reaction can leach chemicals like acids into food. These chemicals can discolor your food, stain your storage containers, or may impact your health. 

Certain Foods Are Too Acidic

It is essential not to store fruits or vegetables with a high acidic level (such as tomatoes) inside these types of metal containers. The higher the acidic level of the food item, the greater the chemical reaction, resulting in many more chemicals leaching into your food.

Storing Hot Foods in Metal Pots Can Cause a Reaction

It is also essential not to let food cool down before inserting them into a food-grade aluminum or copper container. This is because radical temperature changes can trigger a reaction and cause acids to leach into foods. If you want to use a copper or aluminum pot to store food in the fridge, then you should wait for the food to cool down to a minimum of 40 degrees Celsius (or 104  Fahrenheit) before adding it to the container and placing it in the fridge.

When Is It Safe to Store Food in a Copper or Aluminum Container

If you want to use a copper or aluminum food container inside the fridge, you should take the following precautions.

  • Ensure that your container is made from food-grade copper or food-grade aluminum.
  • Only store foods with a low acidic level in the container.
  • It is best to choose enamel-coated copper or aluminum containers when storing goods.
  • Your enamel-coated container should form an air-tight seal. 

Why You Shouldn’t Store an Open Can of Food in the Fridge

We all have those lazy days where you just want to eat the food straight out of the can. And it can be very tempting to simply pop the open can of leftover food into the fridge so you can consume the rest later. This is, however, a terrible idea.

Yes, the cold temperatures of the fridge will slow down the bacterial growth of all foods and items inside your fridge. The open can of food will also last longer inside the fridge than outside. But it still isn’t a good idea because of the following reasons.

  • Food cans are made from steel, but this type isn’t as rust or tarnish-resistant and can quickly start to rust. The rust can contaminate food or will cause a chemical reaction when exposed to oxygen and acids inside the food. This can cause certain acids to leach into your food. 
  • Your open can of food can still be contaminated by certain types of bacteria that are resistant to colder temperatures. 
  • The can of food doesn’t have an air-tight lid that keeps moisture from being extracted from food. This usually causes foods to dry out and become tasteless. 
  • Open foods in the fridge will absorb odors from other food items, which can also alter the taste of the canned food.
  • The smell of the food inside the open container can be absorbed by the plastic materials inside your fridge, which can alter the taste of other food items, such as vegetables. 

Do Metals Make Food Spoil Quickly?

woman holding foul food near refrigerator

Yes, metal containers can spoil food quickly, but only if the food is stored at room temperature or if the wrong type of metal container is used. 

Food usually spoils when it is exposed to bacteria and oxygen. And bacteria flourish in warm and moist conditions. For example, if you use a metal container to store food outside the fridge, food will spoil quickly because metal is an excellent heat conductor. 

Food will warm up quickly outside the fridge, and the container keeps moisture inside, allowing bacteria to spoil it quickly. Bacteria can snowball in food at temperatures of 40 to 140 degrees Fahrenheit, which is precisely why we see food spoil quickly at room temperatures. 

Metal types like aluminum and copper can also make certain foods spoil faster because the acidic content of these foods causes a chemical reaction that makes food unsafe for consumption, especially if these foods are kept in warm conditions. 

Bacterial growth will be hindered by keeping your stainless steel container below 40 degrees Fahrenheit in the fridge. And if you keep food in a stainless steel container with an air-tight seal, the moisture and flavor of your food can be preserved. 

What is the Best Container for Storing Food in the Fridge?

Glass containers are the best for storing food items inside and outside the fridge. Here is a quick look at why you should opt for glass food containers if you want a safe food storage solution.

  • Glass is non-porous and won’t absorb odors or flavors from food.
  • Glass containers are easy to clean and most are dishwasher safe.
  • Glass naturally helps keep food fresh for longer because these containers usually have an airtight seal that keeps oxygen from reacting with food. 
  • Glass containers are very functional since you can easily see what foods are stored inside the container.

Alternatively, food-grade plastic containers that form an air-tight steal can be used. These containers are not quite as functional as glass containers, but they are a good alternative if you are looking for a lighter and more portable alternative.  

Conclusion

We hope this guide helped answer your question, “Why shouldn’t you put metal in the fridge?” Unfortunately, it is safe to conclude that it is best only to use food-grade stainless steel containers that offer an air-tight seal if you want to store foods in metal. Any other metal container types should be used with great caution. 

We also welcome you to look at some of the other guides we have on Cook Room Kitchen if you are looking for tasty recipes or great cooking tools to use inside your kitchen. With our guides, you can cook and preserve your foods safely and enjoy the best health. 

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