What Are the Ideal Temperatures for Commercial Refrigeration?

In 2021, Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) inspected over 7.5 million food products in nearly 7,000 establishments regulated by the USDA. For restaurants and supermarkets around the country, they must follow the USDA’s established food and beverage safety guidelines. The best way to follow the rules and provide the highest-quality food is to store food in your refrigerators and freezers at the ideal temperature.

The Ideal Temperatures

The ideal temperature for commercial units is not a set figure–it all depends on what you are storing in your unit. At PGS, we strongly recommend you keep food in units at these temperatures for proper food storage:

  • 35℉ to 38℉ for reach-in commercial refrigerators
  • 35℉ to 38℉ for walk-in commercial refrigerators
  • 5℉ to -10℉ for reach-in commercial freezers
  • 0℉ to -10℉ for walk-in commercial freezers
  • -10℉ to -20℉ for commercial ice cream freezers

While each of these units has a different temperature range, it’s essential to adjust the freezer temperature ranges based on the foods within the unit.

Risks of High and Low Temperatures

Every piece of food will rot, freeze, or remain pristine at different temperatures. Therefore, it’s best practice to freeze and store similar foods together. In commercial refrigerators and freezers, it’s best to write the date on the container to monitor how long items are in store. While frozen food won’t spoil, prolonged exposure to freezing temperatures incurs freezer burn and affects your food’s flavor, aroma, and color.

And keeping food in warmer temperatures (e.g. 40℉ to 140℉–the danger zone) lets bacteria grow and spoil food. You can reduce food waste with proper storage techniques and timing.

Tips for Food Storage

Safely storing food is essential for any convenience store, grocery store, and restaurant. Here are some tips to improve your food storage:

  • Allow an empty commercial refrigerator unit to get to the desired temperature before filling it with food.
  • Store similar foods in the same units for maximum food quality.
  • Squeeze as much air out of freezer bags as possible–air breeds bacteria.
  • Use freezer-safe containers.
  • Place newly frozen items at the back, so you use the oldest items first.
  • Ensure refrigerator and freezer doors’ gaskets are intact.

With these tips, you will prolong the life of your freezer and cooler units and keep your food at a safe-to-consume temperature.


Finding the right temperature for your food and setting your units to those temperatures takes a little effort on the front end, but it is well worth the effort. Not only will you save food, but you save money too. Unfortunately, problems arise, and mechanical issues happen. When these problems come up, use PGS for your small-part repair.