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Your Compact Fridge Could Be Making You Queasy

5:51 PM, May 7, 2013   |    comments
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(WUSA) Mini-fridges are everywhere: dorms, offices, hotels, garages and mancaves.

Unlike their bigger counterparts, there's no compressor, which makes them lighter, quieter and more energy efficient. The problem is, the warmer your room gets, the warmer the inside of the fridge gets and the more dangerous your food can get too.

The owners' manuals cautions users, "cooling is reliant on ambient room temperature". So, if your room ever gets above 70 or 89 degrees experts say you could be feeling like Judilyn, "I was heaving a lot and had an upset stomach. "

Judilyn bought a thermometer when she got sick. Her full size fridge wasn't cooling properly. Whether malfunction or design,  if the temperature isn't right you could get sick.

WUSA tested six thermoelectric refrigerators controlling the room temperature, again their cooling capacity depends on it.

The test included  fans and electric heaters. One maker specifically suggests a room temperature at 70 degrees another sets a maximum of 80. Experts say to measure ambient temperature, you sample water bottles at room temperature. And to sample refrigerator temperature by testing the water bottle inside.

The federal government says anything over 40 degrees inside a fridge puts food in the danger zone.

At a room temperature of 66.5 degrees: Koolatron's was already in the danger zone inside.

At 70.5 outside, Danby tested above 40 degrees inside.

At 75 in the room, Culinaire entered the danger zone.

And when the temperature was bumped up to 80 degrees,  Black and Decker and Haier joined in over 40 degrees.

By the time the room got to 85 degrees Avantie and all the others had exceeded the safe 40 degree standard and were somewhere in the 50's inside.

Expert  Jennifer Mcentire, an Institute Food Technologist expert says  when you eat that food, it can make you sick, "It can put you in the hospital."

She used her own equipment to verify the findings of this test. She too found the fridges were in the danger zone. Mcentire was especially concerned because many manufactures show their refrigerators with milk, eggs, and cheese.

Experts say this may have escaped scrutiny, until now, because doctors don't routinely ask food poisoning victims to put a thermometer in their refrigerator.



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