How Retail Delis Refrigerate Food
We recommend that food safety programs and retail delis
- Encourage or require kitchen managers to be certified in food safety.
- Monitor and record refrigerator temperatures.
Most delis keep food cold enough to reduce growth of Listeria monocytogenes (Lm) and other germs that cause foodborne illness and outbreaks, but 1 in 6 delis do not.
Lm causes the third highest number of foodborne illness deaths in the United States each year. Lm contamination of sliced deli meats at retail locations is a major cause of listeriosis illness and outbreaks.
To prevent this, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) Food Code recommends that delis refrigerate deli meats and certain other ready-to-eat foods at 41ºF or colder. This reduces growth of Lm and other germs that cause foodborne illness outbreaks.
Knowing more about how retail delis refrigerate food can help delis and food safety programs reduce risk of foodborne illness.
Some delis keep refrigerators too warm, which can increase risk of foodborne illness.
- 1 in 6 delis had a refrigerator that was too warm.
- Delis were more likely to have a refrigerator that was too warm if
- The deli had more than one refrigerator.
- Deli staff did not record refrigerator temperatures.
- The deli manager was not certified in food safety.
Delis were more likely to refrigerate food at FDA-recommended temperatures if they
- Had a kitchen manager certified in food safety.
- Recorded refrigerator temperatures.
- Listeria monocytogenes (Lm): germ that causes the foodborne illness listeriosis, a serious infection.
- Retail delis: delis that prepare or serve ready-to-eat foods to customers where there is usually a delay between purchasing the food and eating the food. Grocery stores often have retail delis.
This study was conducted by the Environmental Health Specialists Network (EHS-Net). EHS-Net is a federally funded collaboration of federal, state, and local environmental health specialists and epidemiologists working to better understand the environmental causes of foodborne illness.
- Food Safety Practices Linked with Proper Refrigerator Temperatures in Retail Delisexternal icon (scientific article this plain language summary is based on)
- How Retail Delis Refrigerate Food pdf icon[PDF – 326 KB] (fact sheet version of this page)
- Retail Deli Food Safety Practices Study (study information)
- More EHS-Net publications by Study Topic
- More Food Safety Study Findings in Plain Language