Food Standards Scotland (FSS) is calling on people to help gather data which will shape future food safety messaging.

The FROST Project – which stands for Fridge Recording Over Set Time – runs from August for several months. Initial results are expected by spring or early summer next year.

Temperature loggers, sent out by FSS, will be placed in a participant’s fridge and track its temperature over two weeks. Collected information will then be analyzed by the agency to help determine the average temperature of fridges in households across Scotland.

One temperature logger should be put on the top shelf and the other on the bottom shelf with people asked to record the date the trial started.

Correct fridge temperature
Participants need to fill out a questionnaire and will then be sent two temperature loggers which will automatically record the fridge’s temperature every 10 minutes. A pre-paid envelope will be provided to return the items.

It is the first time that FSS has undertaken a citizen science project. Citizen science involves the public in collecting and analyzing data for a research project.

There are an estimated 43,000 cases of foodborne illness annually in Scotland.

Dr. Emma Agnew, senior scientific adviser at FSS, said fridges can be the first line of defense in keeping food safe.

“Fridges need to be kept at a temperature between 0-5 degrees C (32-41 degrees F) but, worryingly, a quarter of people in Scotland don’t know the correct temperature it should be at. The temperature inside your fridge can vary for several different reasons, and therefore it’s important to know what temperature it’s at. Keeping food at the correct temperature will help prevent the growth of bacteria which could cause food poisoning.”

An optional step involves taking a photo of the inside of your fridge. Pictures will be anonymized for data analysis, so won’t be linked back to the taker. They will be used to get an idea of the different food products that are being stored on the different shelves of fridges across Scotland, which will help inform consumer messaging.

Current knowledge
Agnew said a pilot study of the project earlier this year found a wide range of temperatures, even from people who knew the correct range or regularly checked their fridge temperature.

“Our FSS Consumer Tracker has also highlighted that there is a high number of people using the dial within their fridge (around 30 percent) to check temperature, assuming that this is a temperature rather than a power setting, and 1 in 5 people surveyed never check their fridge temperature,” she said.

“As there are a wide variety of factors that can influence fridge temperatures, we hope that by storing the temperature loggers in two locations within the fridge and for a long period of time, that we can get an accurate reflection of fridge temperatures in households in Scotland and how this is impacted by activities such as filling the fridge after a main food shop.”

To take part, people must be over the age of 18, be currently living in Scotland and have a food fridge in the home. For more information and to register to participate, follow this link.

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