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Conference abstract, 2012

Best before date mass experiment - food storage temperatures registered by Swedish school pupils

Eriksson, Mattias; Marklinder, Ingela


The fourth Friday in September is Researchers’ Night, instituted by the European Commission. In autumn 2011 a mass experiment focusing on refrigeration temperatures was organized through 72 Swedish schools. Rationale and Objectives A correct temperature might increase the best-before durability of food, which is positive in an environmental perspective. The objective was to investigate the food storage temperature in Swedish refrigerators and to use best-before-date labeling to determine whether school children considered the food items edible. The experiment was performed by 1,812 school pupils attending grades 2 through 12 and ‘folk high school,’ who registered the temperature on different shelves in their own family´s refrigerator. The teachers handed out thermometers (Moller-Therm (+0.5/- 0.1◦ C) and the school pupils registered their data online. Results and Findings The temperature on middle shelves at the back was the coldest (average 4.8 ◦C, SD 3.1). Dairy products, meatballs and sausages exceeded the recommended 8◦ C in almost one quarter of cases. In 75 percent ground beef was stored at higher temperatures than recommended (average 5.5◦ C (SD=3.72). Even though the use-by date had been passed in 30 percent of cases, the pupils did not rate them as inedible. The experiments contributed to increased discussions of food hygiene, food storage and resource management. The majority of the teachers also agreed to that pupils’ interest and understanding of food labeling, food hygiene, food storage and environmental aspects increased. Conclusions A relatively high proportion of food items were stored at higher temperatures than recommended. The mass experiment contributed to an increased interest and knowledge of food hygiene, food storage and resource management among pupils.

Published in


IAFP European Symposium on Food Safety