Commercial Display Fridge & Freezer: Display Fridges – For “Drinks Only” or “Food Safe”?

In commercial display refrigeration you need to remember to leave your domestic refrigerator logic at home. Domestic and Commercial fridges are NOT the same - in commercial glass door fridges there are generally two types of units:

  • Drinks or Beverages rated fridges
    Are generally rated between 0-12°C but is generally any refrigerator that operates above 5°C in its normal operating mode (usually up to 8-10°C). Above 5°C is classed as the danger zone for cold dependent product. Drinks and/or Beverage fridges are mainly only for drinks and/or beverages that can also be stored at room temperature - such as bottled water, soft drinks, alcoholic beverages, electrolyte drinks, and similar. The Australian & New Zealand MEPS legislation classification for this unit is “M2” and the operating temperature stated as operating -1°C to 7°C.

  • Food Safe or Food Rated fridges
    These high-performance fridges generally rated 0-5°C but can be rated between -1°C to 5°C and are any fridges that keep product between these temperatures in their normal operating mode. These fridges are for food that are cold dependent to stay fresh and food classified as ‘high-risk foods’ which includes – fresh juices, dairy (milk, yoghurt, cheese, etc), meat, poultry, seafood, eggs, small goods (ham) as well as most cooked, processed or pre-packaged foods (especially if they contain high risk foods). Examples are – stews, casseroles, pasta salad, pies, pizza, sandwiches and most cakes. Refer to the Australian and New Zealand governments MEPS legislation and ensure the unit is classified “M1” which must operate between -1°C to 5°C.

Important Points:
  • The technology required to make a high performing food safe fridge in Australian conditions is much more than a “mass produced”, “off the shelf”, drinks fridge to suit distant overseas markets or standards. These are usually cheap looking with lots of plastic and often power inefficient. These units also do not often meet Australian electrical requirements.

  • Don’t get fooled by tricky marketing or data sheets, suppliers of quality product will make it evident their product meets MEPS requirements for Australia and New Zealand.

  • Any unit that is not rated between 0 to 5°C is not suitable for ‘high-risk” or “cold dependent” foods (dairy, milk, cheese, meat, etc).

  • If your fridge temperature operates above 7°C during a normal cycle (not when “pulling down” warm or hot product, or if the door has been opened), it really doesn’t even meet the most basic government refrigerator requirements for Australia or New Zealand (refer MEPS) ¹.

  • 0°C and -1°C is “freezing point” but don’t forget these are the lowest of the temperature range cycle, so a commercial glass door fridge doesn’t consistently operate at this temperature.

  • It might also surprise you to know but there are a lot of companies distributing their cold dependent product (which should be stored between 0 to 5°C) through retailers in fridges that are only drinks rated (2-10°C) to save money, putting customer health at risk.

¹A “normal cycle” means the refrigerator is working at optimum performance and allowed to cycle (reach the upper temperature threshold limit and then pull-down to minimum temperature) without any person or power interruption or interference. “Pulling-Down” generally means the fridge working harder until the fridge has lowered the temperature of all product inside to within operating parameters – then it will “cycle” less often.

Our mission here at Huxford Refrigeration is to educate our customers so they can make the right decisions. It is our opinion that the commercial display merchandising refrigerator and freezer is one of the most critically important assets when it comes to cold food storage and merchandising. Not only for the safety and well-being of your customers but for the continued success of your business.

Huxford Refrigeration recommends regular maintenance from qualified refrigeration mechanics. Commercial display refrigerators and freezers (similar to cars) have moving parts and fail more dramatically and expensively if they have never been serviced. Consult your operation or instruction manual for more information on preventative maintenance, cleaning and cost saving procedures you can perform. For safety always turn off and unplug a refrigerator or freezer if you are cleaning or working on it. Never perform electrical or refrigeration work unless you are qualified to do so.